Light on the Landscape by William Neill a hardbound coffee table book

Review of 'Light on the Landscape' by William Neill

It’s not often that I come across a book that fills me with inspiration. William Neill’s new coffee table book “Light on the Landscape” is filled with golden nuggets of inspiration. I expected this to be the typical coffee table book that is primarily photographs with a description of the place, some musing about the journey, or filled with pithy quotes. This book is different, it is a book to inspire photographers.

William (Bill) Neill has been photographing for over 40 years. Bill has worked with and been deeply inspired by Ansel Adams. The breadth of his knowledge and experience with photography cannot be understated. Bill has managed to take the impossible task of distilling 40 years of experience into one beautiful book.

Each ‘chapter’ starts with a stunning image. By stunning, I don’t mean in the modern sense of some epic landscape that dominates social media these days. Bill’s images are quiet yet powerful, filled with mystery and mood, depth, and emotion.

Light on the Landscape by William Neill a hardbound coffee table book

The images are enough on their own to make this a successful book, but it’s more than that. Following the image in each chapter is an essay. Each essay is short and pithy, he gets to the point quickly without unnecessary fluff and leaves you inspired to learn and do more.

In my own photographic journey, I have learned most of these lessons already, yet I still found this inspirational. Even if you are far along in your photographic journey, you will surely find nuggets of inspiration along the way. It’s a reminder of all the things I have learned and why I fell in love with this art form in the first place.

This book should be required reading for those starting out their journey into photography. If you’re thinking about getting this book, be prepared to spend hours pouring over the incredible amount of information. Take notes, give yourself projects and goals to implement the ideas, and you will grow quickly. Put off your next gear purchase and get this book instead, it will have a more meaningful impact on your vision.

I should also mention that the book itself is of the utmost quality. The print quality is superb, the paper is thick and luscious as you would expect from a high-end coffee table book.

Below are some excerpts from the book I found inspirational:

My question remains: How much do we need to know? Hunger for more knowledge and better technique is a good thing. Sure, spend hours in front of your computer editing your images. But when you feel inspiration, whether in front of a grand landscape or a flower in your backyard, let go of the rules and regulations, and embrace the beauty. Be in the moment. Connect with your senses. Art will come through your emotions when they are most intense. On that glorious October day, all we “needed to know” was that we were there to see it.

William Neill

The art of photography is about interpretation. What is right and what is wrong? You, the artist, get to decide. Listening to Ansel Adams lectures in my formative years, and seeing the creative renditions he made from his negatives to the final prints, I learned that I don’t need to adhere to a literal expression of my subjects.

William Neill

Finally, here is a small sampling of the topics I found most interesting:

  • Building a portfolio
  • Writing about your photography to tell stories
  • Fundamentals of light, composition
  • The importance of patience and persistence
  • Creating images with depth
  • Aspect ratios
  • Seasons
  • Being in the moment
  • Noticing the world around you
  • Separation of tones in post-processing
  • Intimate landscapes
  • Giving a sense of scale
  • Immersing yourself in a location
  • Seeing beyond the icons
  • Ideas for experimenting with different techniques

In the short time I have known Bill he has been kind and generous, someone I look forward to spending more time with in the future. I hope you will support his work and pick up this book today.

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