on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Steve Gosling, Ernst Schwitter & Olaf Otto Becker

Book reviews

Tim Parkin

Tim Parkin

Amateur Photographer who plays with big cameras and film when in between digital photographs.

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Steve Gosling Pinhole Photography

Our first book reviewed here is one I should have done alongside the interview that we did a few issues ago. Steve Gosling's video interview was very popular and you can see his book on pinhole photography below. The self-published book is a limited edition of 1000 with each numbered and signed by Steve and available directly from his website at stevegoslingphotography.co.uk. People may ask why print quality matters to a pinhole photography book but in many ways, it is more important as the smooth nature of the photographs can be easily ruined by a poor print screen (the dots you see in magazines which are finer in better printed books). Steve's duo-toned pictures are well presented here and the subject matter, although primarily typical food for the pinhole, is often pleasantly obtuse (for instance, Steve's excellent 'Exit' picture of Weymouth, Dorset). Although not a cheap book at £30 plus p&p, if you have an interest in the pinhole genre, this is highly recommended.

Ernst Schwitters - Colors of Norway 1943-1963

The second book I am reviewing today is from one of Europe's first colour landscape photographers. Ernst Schwitters was born in Hanover in 1918 and was exhibiting his landscape photographs in 1933 having moved to Norway. His work is intriguing historically and he was associated with Man Ray and László Moholy-Nagy because of his Photogram work. This book chronicles his life but concentrates on his colour landscape work, remarkably starting with photographs of the Lake District, a landscape he saw as Norway in miniature. The book is intriguing historically and the photography is often beautiful and creative but away from its excellent documentary historical abstract, the number of pictures that really make me want to linger is not enough to make me want to buy this just for a visual feast. However, if you have an interest in the history of European landscape photography, you might well justify its purchase. You can buy this book from Beyond Words at this page.

Olaf Otto - Above Zero

Our final book review this issue is a stunning production by Olaf Otto Becker documenting the melting ice sheets of Greenland. "Above Zero" saw Olaf crossing frozen plains with his large format camera searching out the sources of the many rivers carrying meltwater to the see. Black dust absorbs the suns rays and starts the melting process and Olaf found these origins and fastidiously traced the pools, streams and then rivers of ice until they eventually disappeared under the ice sheet. The photographs are not easy to consume en-masse, many people will probably get to the 20th image of a turquoise stream over an ice plain and get tired. However, I've returned to these images multiple times and as you browse through them, the compositional elements come out and the subtleties of subject choice and positioning become clearer. Some of the 'revealing' that must have taken place in Olaf's conscious as he worked in such a barren landscape seems to occur. The back of the book contains a section documenting the team that works on the ice that were his companions and after such a large treatise of images devoid of anything but dirt, ice and water, the colours come as quite a shock. This book and Ernst Schwitters were supplied by Beyond Words who loan me books in order to review them and I can decide to pay for them or to send them back. I think I'll be keeping the Olaf book, it's worked it's way into my head and seems to reward repeat visits to consume the series rather than the return trips I make to other books where I pick out individual images. You can buy Olaf's book at this page.



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