From time to time, I sing the praises of David duChemin (even if I do think he pronounces his last name incorrectly - he makes it sound like douche-man, as opposed to the more Frenchified version my hoity-toity ears would prefer - but I love ya, David, I really do, no harm meant). And so the time to sing praises has come again. But actually, this time it's not David but one of his colleagues/friends/fellow photographers who has earned the accolades.
I've been following the work of Mitchell Kanashkevich for a while, maybe about a year or slightly longer. He has published two ebooks, one on using available light and one on post-processing in Lightroom which have been very well received, although I can't completely speak for them as I didn't purchase them myself. I have seen the samples, however, and I think they would be well worth the investment for anyone not completely familiar with Lightroom or seeing the light.
But the new Craft and Vision ebook by Mitchell is worth reading for any photography enthusiast. It's called Journey Through Java, and it's part of their The Print and the Process series. The basic format is to take a selection of images all captured over a fairly short time period in one rather exotic location, and then tell the story of the making of the images, and the thoughts and techniques behind them.
The images come first without any explanation. I really love that about this series. First we are given the opportunity to make our own judgments about the images before we are told what to think about them. I've never been to Java, but I found myself frequently flashing back to our time in Thailand while looking at them. There's something about the Southeast Asian light that is instantly recognizable for me now.
Mitchell has a good eye. His images use color contrast, simple composition, diagonals and leading lines to draw you in. And once you're in, he tells you the stories. Of sitting round the fire at night, or spending your days hauling backbreaking amounts of sulfur from a volcano, or porting baskets from the ocean writhing with fish. He creates a balance between the beautiful or desolate countryside and the very human people within it. And he knows how to photograph in challenging but beautiful low light situations.
And then once you've formed your own judgments he gives you his side of the story. And he talks about the light. I love the way he talks about the light. It could be me speaking there, but he tells it all much more articulately than I ever could. Most of his images use natural light, but from time to time he uses an appropriately gelled flash to make the capture possible.
He also covers equipment, his preparation for the trip (he learned some Bahasa Indonesia - hats off to him), getting around once on location (he rented a motorbike) and other practicalities. At the end of the book he goes through each image in detail, the thought process behind it, the time of day it was taken, getting permission from the subjects, anything you could want to know about it all.
If you've got five bucks, half an hour to read it, a few more days to let the information sink in, and you have any kind of hunger for photographic knowledge at all, plus if you like gorgeous images, you should buy it. I'm just saying. You'd be doing yourself a favor. Click here to visit Craft And Vision, if you feel so inclined. If you purchase before midnight today and use the code JAVA4 you can get the book for $4 instead of $5. And if you buy more than 5 books you can use the code JAVA20 and get them all for $4 each.
Edit: Thanks to my eagle eyed readers. Unsurprisingly, boot does not translate directly into German. My mistake! Apparently, the title of this post should read 'Der Stiefel.' But that just doesn't seem as fun to me.