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Photographer’s Eye iPad app

The Photographer’s Eye book has sold over 200,000 copies and been translated into more than 20 languages. Publisher Ilex Press has just released a digital version, featuring a video introduction, interactive elements including diagrams, and numerous recordings of the author, the internationally recognised Michael Freeman. We asked Roger Tooth, Head of Photography for The Guardian to test out the app for The Literary Platform:

“The app gets off to a bit of a bad start when we’re greeted by the author, Michael Freeman, on video. It’s not really what he says, which is a little patronising – all about not needing expensive lenses like his and photography coming from “up here” as he points to a greying temple – but who is saying it. He looks like a middle-aged lecturer and that’s the main problem with the app. It doesn’t really use the iPad’s photographic possiblities to excite.

This is a brave attempt at translating a photographic manual to the iPad format and there are some great features, like the way you can move the horizon in a photograph up and down in the frame. This is a really practical use of the electronic format, but these are few and far between. There is too much old fashioned lecturing on the philosophy of composition using diagrams, some of which are animated with overlays on pictures that make them slightly more bearable. There is even an absurd panel about the golden section complete with equations.

I think all this is an over-complication that mitigates against the immediacy of the iPad experience. Much less text and some larger images with simple captions would exploit the beauty of photography on the Apple screen. The reader tends to scan through the app, looking for the next bit of interactivity, rather than settling down and taking in the pictures and learning from the photographers’ experience and techniques. The images need to be more arresting, probably through being scaled-up to fit the whole screen. The section of images is very narrow for a book on general photography, Freeman is a travel photographer, but this app is aimed at gaining an understanding of shooting all sorts of subjects and that should have been addressed with a greater variety of subjects.”

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