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20 August 2019

Our full book reviews gathered under this column's tag are reserved for titles we found particularly inspiring. But there are a number of releases that we read for review that are worthy of recognition if not a full review. Our short reviews of recent releases attempts to retrieve them from oblivion. Because, you know, we think you might enjoy them.

Woodstock 1969: The Lasting Impact of the Counterculture
by Jason Lauré with text by Ettagale Blauer

Lauré, a photojournalist, was in the right place at the right time 50 years ago, thanks to Jenny, his San Francisco girlfriend. His luggage was a camera bag with two Nikon bodies, one for black-and-white and the other for color, and two lenses, an 80-200mm zoom and a 35-50mm zoom. And 20 rolls of film.

Blauer, in her accompanying text, puts those images into context. "The reverberations of that revolution continue to the present day, greatly transformed and channeled into the creation of mind-altering machines: the personal computer, the cell phone, the laptop, the smart phone, computer tablets and all their miniaturized offshoots."

Handsomely produced, the color and black-and-white images intimately capture both the performances and the audience.

Anja Niemi: In Character
by Anja Niemi with Max Houghton

Houghton wrote in the introduction and interviews the Norwegian artist who explores gender identity in a series of fictional female leads she portrays in a variety of lavish sets like that seen in our 2017 PhotoFairs story. The book is organized in six chapters represented different series, among them Starlets, The Woman Who Never Existed, and She Could Have Been a Cowboy. Houghton compares her work to a drag artist, quoting RuPaul, "You're born naked and the rest is drag."

Or, as Niemi tells him in the interview, "I have always liked to buy things that belonged to other people, and then to imagine how their lives might have been." Those discarded things have become, she says, worthless. Until she brings them back to life.

The book includes 176 images that will not make you think even once of Cindy Sherman.

Life in 50mm: The Photographer's Lens
by Tanya Nagar

You could concoct a book like this for every prime lens, we shuddered to think. There would be Life in 35mm, Life in 85mm, Life in 200mm at least. Except that 50mm is the focal length that most closely approximates what we take in when we survey a scene.

In this 160-page book, Nagar introduces the nifty 50 and its particular advantages before guiding us through an exhibit of seven chapters, all shot with 50mm lenses or their equivalents by eight photographers. Along with the image, each page includes a bit a metadata (camera, lens, f-stop, film or ISO) and a brief but illuminating discussion.

There was a time when a 50mm lens was the lens that came with your camera. And it's often the first prime dSLR owners add to their collection these days. In this collection of impression images, you'll see why.

Photo Hacks: Simple Solutions for Better Photos
by Imogen Dyer and Mark Wilkinson

Dyer and Wilkinson launched their partnership with a YouTube channel that now counts over 150,000 subscribers. Dyer's Weekly Imogen YouTube channel itself averages 50,000 viewers a day.

Which may make you wonder why we haven't mentioned the book. In five chapters taking 144 pages, it offers tips about gear, shooting, cameras, studio setups and dealing with models. Throughout the book, the pair stick to their low-budget formula for conjuring up special effects. Each two-page tip includes a side bar listing Cost, Difficult and Materials.

And it is comprehensive. If you've been around the block, there's nothing new here. But if you're new to the game, you'll find this an inspiring collection of affordable ideas.

NB: Titles are affiliate links which provide you with a discount and us with a small referral fee. None of the titles come from the affiliates, however, but are either proposed by publicists or sought out by staff for review.

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