Book Review – Photographing the 4th Dimension Time

Jim Goldstein provided me with an advanced copy of his newly released ebook book; Photographing the 4th Dimension – Time so that I would have an opportunity to provide a review.  I was more then happy to do so as I can’t remember ever seeing a photography book dedicated specifically to the concept of time.

I should start by saying I have known Jim for many years from the online photo community and telephone communications.  He is an excellent photographer and writer with a real eye for color and design elements – everything I have seen him produce is top notch.

Jim is a former Alaskan who now lives in the bay area.  On my trip to San Francisco a little over a year ago I finally had the pleasure of meeting Jim in person.  During that visit, it was Jim who gave me my first look at an Ipad, so I guess it was fitting that the first book I read on an IPad was his!

First, I gotta say a book like this on a device such as an IPad is really cool thanks to the extra multi media elements like embedded videos and live links to websites.   This makes reading a book an entirely new experience!

Now to the book.  It has a wonderful design with a perfect balance of real life examples including photos, videos and charts, along with accompanying text.  The book begins with a chapter on exposure which includes the best illustrations I have seen on the subject.  Next is an interesting discussion on human perception.  Then comes the main course with chapters on:

  • Long Exposures including light painting and star trails
  • Sequences – including images from different times of day and year, along with a section on time-lapse video.
  • Mixing Motion with Still Photography – including flash strobe effects and cinemagraphs (more on cinemagraphs later)
  • Gear – informative chapter on the tools of the trade.
  • Field Checklist –  A final section of helpful lists and charts they can be printed for easy reference.

The best chapter for me was the one on long exposure – this one is worth the cost of the book alone.  I have done very little with light painting or star trails, so to have suggested starting points for things like exposure will save a lot of time experimenting in the field.  I have never done a star trail image where I stacked multiple exposures, and I know this the best way to minimize noise with today’s digital cameras.  Jim doesn’t just brush over the technique, but goes into great detail with capture and post production processing even recommending helpful software programs.

For me personally, because of my personal experience the chapter on sequences was the least helpful.  But, if you are just starting out doing sequences – time-lapses in particular, this chapter will have you off and running in no time and will save you a lot of wasted time spent learning the hard way!

Now the other chapter worth the price of the book alone was the one on mixing motion with still photography.  The possibilities and the examples Jim provides of the use of flash strobe will keep the creative juices flowing for days.

But, what I found fascinating was the second section of the chapter covering the creation of cinemagraphs.  I have seen some really cool uses of this technique and never really knew how it was done.  If you don’t know what a cinemagraph is, here are a couple of Jim’s examples of cinemagraphs.  If you have a slow internet connection you might need to wait a bit for the motion to kick in.  The possibilities with this technique are endless!

So, all and all, I gotta say this is an excellent book covering a unique topic.  The concepts are laid out in a concise, easy to follow manner with lots of examples.  I definitively recommend this book, I think it could provide photographers of all ability levels with lots of creative ideas and techniques that should lead to hours of fun!

 

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