Tom Mackie's Landscape Photography Secrets
"Tom Mackie\'s Landscape Photography Secrets" by Tom Mackie with Daniel Lezano
There are no secrets in “Tom Mackie’s Landscape Photography Secrets” except those encoded in Mackie’s brilliant photographs. But for the photographer willing to take the time to decode them, Mackie’s book will speak volumes.
The book is organized into different environments for landscape photography, including urban, rural, coastal, mountain, forest, desert, water and garden landscapes. The reader will find this approach convenient for review before entering one of these environments with his or her camera.
The pictures are spectacular. As I write, I’ve randomly opened the book to a winter picture of a crystal encrusted tree, set off against an intense blue sky, and framed by the ruins of a church. In front of the ruin and to the right is a lone crystal encrusted weed and set further back from the subject and to the left is a smaller encrusted tree. The ruins, the weed and the smaller tree and several other objects continually lead the eye back to the central subject.
Mackie loves the panoramic view that imitates the way we naturally see. There is a photograph of a snow-covered ridge moving from near left to far right, enclosing a green valley. And there in the left foreground is a highland sheep, like an exclamation point.
Mackie regularly uses filters to improve his pictures. Almost every photograph uses a polarizing filter to intensify colors. Mackie is not above using a coral filter to capture his vision.
This book was a twice eaten meal. The first time I read it I rushed from picture to text and back again. I must confess to being a little disappointed by the text. Then I went back over the pictures slowly, analyzing and comparing them. Each one was a mini-lesson in landscape photography.
Mackie’s ghost writer did a competent job of writing but did not provide any illumination for the student landscape photographer. Rather than secrets, the prose contains a number of tips that are common in the literature but still bear repeating. It’s no secret that returning to a photographic scene under different time and weather conditions will yield new material that will probably be enhanced by the light of experience or that wet rocks provide more dramatic subjects than dry ones.
I wish that Mackie had given us his own words, taking the time to shape and polish them the same way that he does with his photographs. It’s hard work to apply writing techniques to explain your vision, but it’s not something that someone else can do well for you.
As an instructional manual, this book is aimed at advanced photographers who are capable of analyzing the photographs and extracting lessons from them. Others readers may just have to sit back and enjoy the glorious landscape photographs.