Capture the Magic
Train Your Eye,
Improve Your Photographic Composition
By Jack Dykinga
Rocky Nook Inc. www.rockynook.com
ISBN: 978-1-937538-35-4 US $39.95
In his latest book, Jack Dykinga helps the reader accomplish several goals. The large colorful book provides a beautiful coffee table browsing experience with images spanning Dykinga’s nearly 50 years behind the camera. In that regard it serves as a fitting retrospective for one of the 40 most influential nature photographers named by Outdoor Photography magazine. If the reader merely wants a visual delight from a great North American landscape photographer, this book is a winner.
If the reader is seeking more insight into the images, then Jack Dykinga the teacher steps in and provides both inspirational stories and technical information about each image. With easy-to-understand chapter headings such as Design, Lines, Framing, Light, Juxtaposition and Direction, Dykinga carefully sets up images to explain the concepts to the reader both visually and in his insightful text. He interweaves behind-the-scenes stories to illustrate the patience and perseverance necessary to produce great images.
As an example this image required Jack Dykinga nearly two weeks to first find the appealing cactus with the sweeping arm and the upright saguaro it framed. Then he had to return each day before dawn with a stepladder and his Arca-Swiss 4 X 5 F-Field camera with Nikkor 75mm lens to finally capture a group of flowers in bloom on Fuji Velvia film in the warm light of early morning in 1991.
Only once in the book does Dykinga really set out a list of rules. After a series of images on the topic, Design, he concludes the chapter with a list of seven “Tips for Creating Strong Compositions.” The last of these tips bears repeating here “Recheck focus, recheck composition, and shoot again. If you’re the slightest bit unsure of focus or exposure, then bracket. In other words, after making the correct exposures with the correct focus point, take additional exposures setting the focus forward and behind the original point of focus. Expose properly and then make exposures over and under the metered reading. This will ensure the widest range of exposures to choose from.” Then Jack Dykinga really turns on the magic. “Of course you’re not done at this point; now you improvise by completely changing the composition from centered to off-center. Tilt: who says every scene calls for a leveled camera? The camera can be moved to accommodate the strongest composition, like playing the lines into the corners. In short, try anything that you feel helps make a strong statement. You have the power.”
Jack Dykinga illustrates his statement with a series of images captured in 2013 with his Nikon D800E and 70-200 f4 lens in the chapter called Working the Situation. He guides the reader through the steps he took to go from the image of the yucca in its environment with mountains in the distance to the isolated composition displayed above.
Indeed as every Luminous Landscape reader knows you have the power with each press of the shutter to create the image and as Jack Dykinga encourages each reader, Capture the Magic.