Book Review: The Photograph – Composition and Color Design 2nd Edition by Harald Mante

Book Review: The Photograph - Composition and Color Design 2nd Edition by Harald ManteThe Photograph – Composition and Color Design 2nd Edition is a beautiful new book by Harald Mante, German photographer, artist and designer who has had great influence on German color photography. The new book is not just a rework of the first edition but a complete new work with new photographs and new textual contents in addition to his classic thoughts on color and design.

This is a must-read book for the photographer who wants to elevate his craft to high art. It deals with composition and design. It begins with the point and the line, and goes on to explore the principles of shape, color, composition and design and explains the essential elements to achieving nothing less than the highest level of visual design in photographs. This book has breadth and depth.

For example, in the section Figure and Ground: Positive and Negative Forms under the chapter on Universal Contrasts, the author explains how shapes and objects are recognized, how the visual weight of a shape impacts on the image surface, and goes on to explain figure-ground contrast, and figure-ground flip, that is, change of the positive-negative priority.

On the subject of color, the book has a whole chapter on Color Contrasts explaining the primary and secondary colors, contrast of hue, third order colors and quality contrast, complementary contrast and quantity contrast, cold-warm contrast, actual color and apparent color, and simultaneous contrast. All these are beautifully illustrated with high quality photos and colorful diagrams that drive home the point.

This second edition has whole new chapters on Serial and Sequential Photography, Analyzing Shape and Color, and a new section on The Square Image Format.

This hardbound book is printed in paper like those you see in glossy magazines, only thicker. The pages are filled with over 750 of Mante’s own photographs and some 160 diagrams to beautifully illustrate the in-depth lessons in the book.

The Photograph – Composition and Color Design is a book for serious students of photography. You might be disappointed if you’re expecting a “˜hey-buddy” approach to the lessons. The language in the book is serious and very academic – but not boring, a reflection perhaps of Mante’s long years of teaching photography. The original text is in German; the English translation is by Thomas C. Campbell III.

In summary, this can be a good resource book for people who have anything to do with photography at all – whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional and aiming for high art in photography; highly recommended also for those practicing, studying, critiquing, or administering in the visual arts.

Harald Mante is one of the most distinguished teachers of photography internationally. He is based in Schwerte, Germany but has traveled all over the world to lecture and to work on photographic projects in Tuscany and Umbria, Florence, East Germany, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy, East Africa, England, USA, Canada, and New Zealand.

The Photograph- Composition and Color Design, 2nd Edition by Harald Mante was released November 2012 by publisher Rocky Nook and is now available from O’Reilly.

[Site: O’Reilly]

Published by Chris Malinao

Chris teaches Lightroom as workflow software to photography students at the FPPF, Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation. He also teaches smartphone photography.