The Essence of Photography, Book by Bruce Barnbaum

The Essence of Photography, Book by Bruce Barnbaum

In Bruce Barnbaum’s book, The Essence of Photography: Seeing and Creativity. he takes the reader through many personal experiences of not only why he made specific images but the personal reasons for doing so. From his work in architecture, landscapes, and abstracts, Bruce describes his work as an ongoing journey of how he sees the world and the visual elements that inspire him. This combined with advice from years of teaching workshops along with a lifetime of making art.

I found his writings, advice, and images chosen, to be of great interest in allowing one to begin to understand the inner workings of a great photographer. Nothing extraordinary or even surprising and that seems to be where the impact prevails. Most of the images chosen were due to personal reasons. Be they of visual interest, intrigue, or to make a personal statement.

A very enjoyable and enlightening book that seems to deviate from many if not most photography books in that it is not a book about “Greatest Hits”, which personally I find almost completely lacking in helpful thoughts or ideas. Not so with the images and shared experiences Bruce presents in The Essence of Photography.

Even though I have not spent much time with black and white photography I found myself enjoying each image for how it is presented regardless of if it was black and white or color. I think that says much for the power of the images as personal creations of art rather than simply photographs of any specific subject.

A beautiful high quality book by Rocky Nook. It can be purchased directly from Bruce’s website or from the Rocky Nook site. I’m thinking “The Art of Photography” may be my next Bruce Barnbaum book.

The Essence of Photography: Seeing and Creativity 

The Essence of Photography, Seeing and Creativity - by Bruce Barnbaum


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The Need To Grow

The Need To Grow

In The Gap | ©Brad Mangas

In The Gap | ©Brad Mangas

Regardless of age I am a firm believer in the need to grow. Grow in any way necessary to improve what ever it is that needs improvement in ones life. This can and should happen on an on going basis, but the beginning of a new year is traditionally the time we think about changes. Or as many may say, resolutions. I intentionally made sure there were no resolutions set for this coming year. I have sworn off of resolutions. I guess you might say I made a resolution some years back to not have resolutions.

The changing of the calendar year seems to have very little effect on what I do, how I do it, the attitudes I chose to have about everything I do. I very much prefer it that way. It seems like a cop-out to me to use the changing of a year as the reason to make needed adjustments in ones attitude or way of living. Any day of the year should have just as much importance as any other day.

The new calendar year does not go unnoticed. It is very useful as a form of timer, or maybe more appropriate, a reminder. Reminder to take inventory, go through ones check list and make needed changes. Of course this could be done any day of the year, but it does seem suited for this time of year. I try to do this without delay or notification of the calendar date. There are a few things that I have neglected over the previous months. A few things that I will be changing in the coming months. Hopefully with the growth needed to reach goals or at a minimum make improvements to daily life.

On the personal side of making improvements is and has been for the last month or so,  a desire to increase my reading. The simple and enjoyable act of reading books. Over the last six months I have accumulated a small stack of books. I get in the mindset that I need to read something and end up buying it. Many times there is no immediate effort to read it, but for some reason I feel an immediate need to buy it. Weird I know. I come across books that I know there is a good chance I will enjoy so I purchase them before I forget about them. Then over some months they accumulate and I end up with a stack of unread books.

I thought I would share my reading adventures here as they progress. As time allows I will share thoughts and opinions on my reading endeavors over the coming months. I will start with a book I finished a few weeks ago.

The main reason for purchasing this book was due to the author, Joe Cornish. I discovered Joe’s work about 5 years ago and immediately was taken by it. I found it exquisitely beautiful in an almost simplistic natural way. I then came across a few videos on you tube with Joe at work and knew right away this guy is an artist in the true sense. I have love his work ever since.

My current reading is a book by Bruce Barnbaum, The Essence of Photography: Seeing and Creativity. I am enjoying it very much. If the past is any indicator of my reading endeavors I may approach this in spurts. But the plan is to take time everyday to do some reading and make it part of my daily life and routine. I don’t necessarily like much of a routine since they seem to create a type of rut over time. But some routines, such as reading enjoyable material on a consistent basis is one that is welcomed and over due.


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March 4

My how the time flies by! What’s even harder to understand is we all have the same amount of time in each day but some days just seem to fly by like dust in the wind. One of those things that if I am not careful my mind becomes filled with questions that need answers. Here is the only answer I can come up with. Try to live each day with equal importance. Yep my simple mind at work again!

Good golly it has been cold the last few days in these parts. Morning temps at -6 and wind chills I hear around -25! What! Do I dare say Polar Vortex? Yeah whatever mister weather guru. We seem to have the need to name everything anymore. I guess by giving things names they become more personal or something. I don’t think I need a name to explain cold other than hey it’s frickin’ cold outside due to the fact that it is…. cold outside so put on your long-johns.

I just found out yesterday that this Sunday March 9th is daylight savings. Wow that sure seemed to get here fast this year. I’m not sure how it effects me other than I will be out later in the evenings when exploring and waiting for sunset to happen. For some reason I think it will mean a little less sleep but maybe a little more outdoors time. I will consider this good.

I just received my copy of the Lenswork Monograph Series 2 in the mail yesterday. I have mentioned Lenswork before and write about it in my initial Folio “Veris”. Lenswork is an online and print resource devoted to photography and the creative pursuit. Editor Brooks Jensen has done a wonderful job creating a very unique resource unlike most any other photography resource that I know of. It seems different in many ways than your normal photography website/blog. It takes some time to navigate around all the different things that are there but, I find that fun to do and seems give it a much more informative rather than aesthetic quality. I highly recommend spending time on the website and to get the full experience becoming a paid member. I don’t really want to push the need to spend money but if you do you will have access to much much more great information. Personally I have found it the best membership /subscription offering I have ever purchased in the area of photography and creativity.  These Monograph Series books are a separate offering and not part of a membership but, they are beautifully done along the line of collectibles, which I believe is the idea with them. If you have never checked out Lenswork give it a look and see what you think.

It is supposed to start warming up over the next few days. I don’t really get to wrapped up in forecasts unless I am planning a specific outing at a specific time. I just take what is given and push on. My forecasting consists mostly of walking outside and determining the weather at that moment. Seems to be as accurate most media outlets. Yep there will be weather today so if you find it cold put a hat on.

Here is a shot down what I believe use to be the driveway to this farmhouse. In Pottawatomie County very close to were the pictures included in my last journal entry were taken (sorry for the delay in my journal entries). I have driven by this many times and have even photographed it before. It seemed to need more of my attention this time.

Kansas, farm, rural, _BMP4423

© Brad Mangas

Art & Fear

Art & Fear

nature photography_BMP0460

© Brad Mangas

Over the last month or so I have taken time to do some soul searching. Good soul searching isn’t necessarily a fun thing and when you come right down to it it can be extremely difficult, uncomfortable even heart wrenching. To quote a passage from the book “Art & Fear” in which I talk about in the preceding paragraphs, “it can be as uncomfortable as a slow drizzle of dead cats.”

Nobody has ever said that to improve would be easy and it is not. Life is not a thing that can be taken for granted. When is the last time you have faced your fears confronted your demons or even questioned your day to day life? Done with courage and humility it is the one thing that has the ability to improve not only yourself but the things you hold close and allows you to see the world as it should be.

landscape photos_BMP0454

© Brad Mangas

In the words of C.S. Lewis; “Nature never taught me that there exists a God of glory and of infinite majesty. I had to learn that in other ways. But nature gave the word glory a meaning for me.”

Last week I purchased the book, Art & Fear  by  David Bayles and Ted Orland. I have just finished the second reading and I am sure there will be more time spent attempting to ingest this insightful account of this mysterious thing called Art and the emotion that goes hand in hand with it, Fear.

This inceptious account of forces surrounding art, observations on the perils and rewards of artmaking is comforting at minimum and transforming during it’s insightful journey for the reader. I would like to share one of the accounts described that is at present close to mind. More I’m sure will follow.

One such account describes the following; An art teacher during the beginning of a pottery course devised this plan to observe the outcome. They split the class into two equal halves. The first half were told they would be graded on the quantity of pieces produced the second half told they would be graded on the quality of pieces they made. The first half would receive and A for 50 pieces of pottery, B for 40, C for 30 and so on. The second half need only create one piece, be it a perfect to receive an A.

An interesting outcome arose. The half that concentrated on quantity produced far better pieces than that of the half that needed only produce one. The first half while churning out piece after piece noticeably learned from mistakes made corrections tried multiple ideas and in the end had very acceptable art to show for it. While on the other hand the half that concentrated on quality had little to show except for grandiose ideas and a pile of dead clay.

Kansas pictures_BMP0444

© Brad Mangas

What do we learn from this? As mentioned in the book, art is about making art, lots of art. It is only through the process of making art that skills can be refined ideas put to test mistakes corrected and results closer to the artists intention be realized.

During the last month I have still been out in wilderness places camera in hand and my attempt to capture my world continued to be worked upon. Results in my opinion have been dismal at best. There was never a time that I felt the need to quit but there have been moments when I felt the need to stop. Quitting and stopping are fundamentally different. Artists stop all the time even many times and for various reasons. There is no set time frame in which stopping need be adhered to it could be for a day, week, month or years. It simply means you have stopped, for now. Qiting on the other hand happens once. It means, you will never start again.

For some viewing from the outside it may appear I have never stopped. The stopping did not take place in actions of producing photographs it took place in my thoughts about producing photographs, a realization of what had been my “comfort level.” A difference to me as clear as apples and waltzes (a quote also from the book.)

sunset photos, wilderness pictures_BMP0461

© Brad Mangas

There is no intentional ending point this post is meant to stop at. No insightful or grandiose idea, like art it is a process. In this instance one of laying out thoughts, ideas and experiences in a more physical form.

I have a somewhat more calming attitude compared to only a few weeks ago. Will change occur? One can not know and very likely should not know. Results will take place only when actions are taken. Those actions are the seeds of the not yet realized outcome.

Free Ebook

© Brad Mangas

I seem to be a sucker for ebooks, not that buying them makes anyone a sucker I just have a hard time passing them up. Finally a cheap instant way to get a book. My computer and iphone are filling up with some of the latest offers. I don’t have much time to read them at present but I did make time to enjoy one of my latest additions, and the best thing is It’s FREE! If you are a nature lover and especially a lover of trees this “lil ebook of Trees” is for you. Beautiful pictures and a short read Samantha Chrysanthou offers her insights to the strange and wonderful nature of our barked friends. Be sure to check out her blog as well.

©Samantha Chrysanthou

Just click on the image above and download for Free! Be sure and check out all the offers from Visual Wilderness.