Book Review

Cover: First Light. First Light:
A Landscape Photographer's Art


Author: Joe Cornish

Publisher: Argentum

ISBN 1-902538-24-2

Joe Cornish is one of Britain's most accomplished landscape photographers and gets straight to the point in his introduction to this book. "First, light. Everything else follows." This is his guiding principle and when he plans his photography he plans for the light. A quick look through this book will show any reader interested in landscape photography that this is a system that works very well indeed.

Cornish has given the seven main chapters of this book somewhat enigmatic titles - TLC, Foreground Background, Out Of The Blue, The Point Of Return, On The Rocks, Days Of Wonder, and Friends And Heroes. However, reading beyond the titles the reader is taken on a wonderful journey. I was fascinated how Cornish led me through the basic building blocks of landscape photography in such a subtle way that I didn't really notice.

Each chapter consisted of a number of stimulating essays accompanied by a couple of his superb photographs. The text describes how the main photograph came to be taken - Cornish's thought processes behind it, the considerations he kept in mind, and the choices he made, both technical and compositional. Personal anecdotes are packed full of useful advice and kept me involved in the text.

By using two photographs with each essay, usually of the same subject but taken on different occasions, the classic tutors of contrast and compare come to the fore and give an outstanding landscape photography lesson. Realising that there is a lot to learn from mistakes Cornish is more than happy to point out where he feels he could have done better.

A nice thing about this book is that each essay can comfortably be read in isolation. Which means that there is as much pleasure to be obtained by dipping into this book at random as there is from a systematic reading through.

With almost 130 photographs within the 159 pages of this book there is plenty to look at. Keeping the technical details to summary chapters at the end has allowed the photographs to be displayed without clutter. Which is a must for a book such as this.

Although Cornish is a large format practitioner most of what he says is applicable to landscape photographers who use any format. As such, I would think that this book is suitable for anyone with an interest in landscape photography and enjoys looking at he work of an expert.

First Light by Joe Cornish. Sample Pages.