Window Seat: The Art of Digital Photography & Creative Thinking
Book Review

Window Seat: The Art of Digital Photography & Creative Thinking
by Julieanne Kost

O’Reilly Media
ISBN 0-596-10083-2, 147 pages square large format
$39.99 US, $55.99 CN

When the impossible becomes possible, what’s next? Have you ever attempted to take a halfway decent photo of earth or sky from inside a commercial airliner? No, probably not. Or use Photoshop to turn any such airplane image into world class digital art? Not that either. Or even stranger, alleviate fear of flying by creating an inspirational book of images from the sky, plus some well-considered text, from the results of those Photoshop endeavors? If you’re beginning to reach for the air sickness bag on account of all this high flying prose, gaze inside Window Seat instead, and calm creativity will prevail.

Julieanne Kost is Adobe’s traveling evangelist, conducting classes and seminars throughout the world on Photoshop and its Creative Suite siblings. Digital art is her domain at work and at home, for serious fun on and off the job. Window Seat is primarily a portfolio of her expansive color images taken while flying from place to place, bookended by an itemized itinerary of her approach to personal creativity at the front and a 25 page explanation of her working methods at the rear of the book, in an Appendix.

This unusual Appendix takes you inside her coordinated first-person approach to image making and editing. In a concise, direct way that gets across concepts for use on readers’ images and personal projects, Julieanne discusses: capturing, filing, and enhancing photos using Adobe Camera Raw, including descriptions and screenshots for basic Photoshop techniques such as cropping, retouching, improving the lighting or color, making selections and masks, and then saving and printing completed photos.

The author tells Book Bytes: “My goal was to give an overview of the workflow so that people could understand, conceptually, what I did. It’s not a step by step – and, hopefully, not too technical! Purchasers should not expect jargon or secret Photoshop tips, but a tour through the digital workflow that was used to create the images in the book.”

Also, I urge you to digest her eighteen-step “The Art of Creative Thinking” introduction for guidance how to make the most of every situation for its potential to help you be the best creative self possible. Examples include:

• Play! Play! Play! Give yourself assignments … and then send them to a friend.

• Integrate work and art; both will benefit.

• Master your tools … not only the camera, but also computers, software, printers, scanners — a whole host of various technologies.

Her photos are very good, but the printing is not as high-quality as I would like to see in a book that is mostly pictures. If Window Seat becomes a big seller, perhaps the publisher can improve either the paper stock or the print imaging or both, for maximum photographic drama. Many of Julieanne’s pictures are dramatic, or subtle, or both, and viewers should be able to study them in depth, which is not possible in the present edition.

This is an integrated volume that grabs you slowly, and then takes firm hold. We are neither voyeurs not meteorologists of the landscapes and skyscapes within its pages, because even representational forms become impressionistic with help of Julieanne’s lens and software manipulation. Place Window Seat on your coffee table, within easy reach of unsuspecting visitors, and observe them taking it all in, wishing life’s rat race would allow them even more than the fifteen minutes the author urges all of us to devote daily to our creative pursuits.

An unusual title for Book Bytes to review, and for O’Reilly to publish, it is with pleasure we recommend it for all photographers and artists hoping to expand their vision, as if freely floating in the sky with camera or artistic materials in hand.

Book Bytes rating: 4 out of 5


Leave a Reply