Understanding Exposure by Brian Peterson (5/5) — This is a book aimed mainly at the beginner-intermediate photographer. I picked it up after a user reviewed it at Digital Photography School. I simply loved the book and learnt a ton from it. Why? The book is focussed on explaining the 3 elements of the photographic triangle: aperture, shutter speed and light (ISO) and how they’re related. This was perfect for me because I’m now at a stage where I can kind of compose photos, but have no idea what combination of aperture/shutter-speed will give the most creative exposure.
The book is just 160 pages and is composed of short chapters (each of just a couple of paragraphs) each dealing with specific details about the above. Every page is full of Peterson’s photos which illustrate what he’s trying to explain in that page. Also interesting is how Peterson gives the settings for that photo and even the backstory of how he did it. I loved everything — the writing style of Peterson, his examples and explanations. I highly recommend this book. I know I’ll be rereading this book soon.
Angels And Demons (4/5) — I have to give credit to Dan Brown. Though he’ll never win any awards for his writing, he somehow digs up the dirt on some really cool historical events and people. His second novel mimics his later The Da Vinci Code. Instead of Christianity, it’s the Vatican City and the Catholic Church under fire here. There’s even an Hassassin who is the mirror image of Silas. And Langdon runs around Rome finding clues from historical works of art, mostly that of Bernini.
So, what happens in the novel? CERN has discovered how to create antimatter. A capsule of this is stolen by the Illuminati and stashed it somewhere below the Vatican City as a time bomb. The Illuminati is a real underground group that rose from the rank of scientists like Galileo when they couldn’t stand the atrocities of the Church against science. After hundreds of years, they’re now back for revenge. The Pope has just died and the cardinals are gathered in the Vatican to elect the next one. The Illuminati has captured their 4 popular candidates and will be murdering them one an hour at some of Rome’s historical locations. It’s up to symbologist Langdon and his CERN researcher Vittoria to stop the murders and defuse the bomb in time.
The ambigrams are a cool addition to the book. Just like in The Da Vinci Code, Langdon will suddenly stop at critical junctures and start spouting historical trivia. He claims all the places, incidents he presents from history are true. Dan Brown gathered some great elements for his story, but squanders it with amateurish writing. Not to regret too much, the book is still an unputdownable all-nighter. A movie of the book is in the works with Tom Hanks as Langdon. My margin notes are here.
The Bourne Ultimatum (3/5) — I honestly can’t understand how reviewers are rating this movie so high. Jason Bourne is hot on the trail of finding out about himself and he finally does in this finale to the Bourne trilogy. Matt Damon is older, tired and darker. The characters are strong, especially David Strathairn who has the tension of a coiled spring. Julia Stiles is cute. All of them are let down by the plot which blindly goes all over Europe, North Africa and finally returns home to the US. The fast paced action is still there, though missing the spark. Disappointing.