Full Frame by David Noton, book review

Full Frame by David Noton, Cover

In Full Frame, David Noton sets out the story of ten journeys in pursuit of photographic excellence. This large format paperback contains the fruits of that effort and fully justifies it.

Full Frame provides an insight into how David Noton works by providing a background to a range of photographic expeditions he made at home and abroad. The author sets out to provide some sense of what he is expecting from each trip and then goes on to explain each image in more detail. By doing so David Noton shows some of the planning and thinking that he puts into each image, it is not simply a case of photographing what is presented. He makes a point of having a clear purpose but being open to opportunities that will allow him to evolve his objectives in the light of what he finds.

Each picture is printed large but the real lesson is in the supporting text. He explains his approach to each picture through his thinking and practice, Before, During and After. The notes in Before explain how he got there, the conditions he is expecting and his broad intentions for the photographic session, the image he is hoping to produce and the actual result.

The During section covers the image making itself; what he actually found, how he set out to take the picture and the decisions he took both technical and artistically—all with the final image in mind, and the work that would be needed in post-production.

After paragraphs cover post-production where there is something specific to explain and a  focus on the practical aspects of moving on to the next location, for the next day or even a future year. There are useful little throwaway tips buried throughout the text.

It is an easy read and for those with an open and questioning mind a lot of useful insights into the working practice of a successful travel and landscape photographer. As with his other book Waiting for the Light (our review) it is clear that patience is a major part of David Noton's approach. As he explains, sometimes there is a need to simply accept the inevitable and move on when the conditions are not going to be conducive to good pictures. At the end of the day the landscape photographer is in the hands of Mother Nature, and she can be a very fickle mistress.

I must confess I quickly get bored with scenic images, however dramatic or pretty they are. However, I can appreciate David Noton's technical skills and his eye (and patience) for a great composition. But he is more than just a landscape photographer. His travel photographs with people I found much more to my taste and he shows his mastery with people as well, especially to give a sense of place.

So Full Frame is a good and inspiring read with many valuable lessons for those who are prepared to work as hard as David Noton at their photography. For those who want a quieter life then Full Frame is simply a book of great pictures with interetsing background stories.

Full Frame by David Noton, ISBN: 978-0-7153-3615-1. Published by David & Charles, 2010,2012

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