Assignment 2 Final Book Cover of Fahrenheit 451


Final choice of book cover.

Final choice of book cover.

General  Reflections

Fahrenheit 451 was an incredible book to read.  It was inspiring.

I found it extremely interesting learning about the author, Ray Bradbury.  He passed away in his ninety’s  in 2012.  He was still engaged in promoting public libraries.  I found him inspirational and a role model for anyone who thinks growing old means growing stale.

I started this assignment in October.  I read the book and started to formulate possible scenarios for the book cover.  I took shots of a printing press in Hong Kong.  It was equipped with big old machines, was situated outdoors and it printed local newspapers.  I found it fascinating.  In the final draft these photos did not make it into the cover but they remain some of my favourites.  I experienced a gap in my work but even when I wasn’t shooting  I continued to have the book cover in the back of my mind.

In January I researched book cover templates and proceeded to use Adobe Illustrator to design my own formate.

I like my design.  I’m not sure that I would really choose it as the best book cover but I think the photographs are fitting.

Technical aspects of project

All photographs for this project were shot in raw with a Nikon 800 set to manual.  The photograph of the person reading a book with flame as a background was a self portrait done using a tripod and time exposure.  All others photos were taken hand held.  Adjustments to the majority of the photographs were minimal mainly correcting exposure, doing some cropping and fine-tuning the contrast.  The photo of the no parking sign was manipulated using Photoshop.  I left this photograph somewhat ragged because I liked the effect.

Initially I researched templates for a book cover but quickly realized that I wanted more freedom than was accessible employing this method. Subsequently just calculated dimensions of a dust cover including front and back flaps and a spine (appropriate for a 100-150pg book) based on measuring various book covers I found in my own library.  I was able to do a layout on Adobe Illustrator with which I have had some experience.  In Illustrator I used the setting for a print layout/ custom size / 300 resolution.  Book cover will be for a book 5.5” x 8”

Why I decided on this set of photographs 

 I wanted to use photographs that reflect the theme of the novel.

At one point in the book Montag discusses with Professor Faber  the idea of reprinting some of the old books, most notably The Bible.  As I mentioned above I became fascinated by an old printing press still in operation in an exposed shop house in Sheung Wan Hong Kong.    The fact that the press was so open to the public inspired me to reflect on the many freedoms that I enjoy and in this case of course the freedom of expression.  Initially  planned to include one of these photographs but eventually realized that printing was not a crucial theme to the book and that in fact these images did not really enhance the cover. Consequently I forced myself to abandon it the idea.  Instead I chose to use photographs that included flame and books and reading,  those being the essential themes.

I used the No Parking sign because it is a universal symbol, which I think conveys prohibition.

Colour and design

The colours that I chose to emphasize in the book cover are black and yellow. Black because the theme of the book is foreboding and yellow because that is the colour of fire.

With respect to design I kept in mind that this is a photography project and not a graphic design assignment.

I feel that the most significant design decision I made was to spread the one photograph across the front and back covers.

I prefer simplicity – thus the front flap is designed with just a single flame.

The back flap consists of just one photograph.  I could have included more text but once again I thought about this being a photography assignment and I really liked the photo of the book burning.  I believe that text can be strong but sometimes not necessarily powerful.  I chose to use a photograph instead of text.


 I chose text font that I thought was clear and stood out.  The text is in yellow to represent fire and is on black backgrounds which speaks of foreboding.

The text itself was definitely more significant.  The quote that I included under the title was, for me, the most significant text of the whole book.  I listened to the book (read by the author) when I was walking and read it when I was sitting still. I heard this quote while I was walking in Hong Kong and I stopped and rewound the book a number of times so I could hear it over and over again. I was struck by it profundity.  I thought that it summed up the whole book.

Posing the questions about the worth of freedom to read was written to provoke thoughts about freedom.  I am not American but I am very aware of the talk about gun control versus the second amendment “the right of the people to keep and bear arms”.  Thus my question of “ would you commit murder to defend it (the freedom to read)?” I included the fact that some people chose to be burned with their books to emphasize the significance of these questions.

Assignment 2 book cover in progress


These are 3 versions of the book cover.  I chose version 3 as the one I would cover

version 2 of book cover

version 2 of book cover

Three different versions of the book cover for Fahrenheit 451.
All covers were created using photographs taken precisely for this project.

Covers created using 4 different photographs.

version 3 of   book cover

version 3 of book cover

Gallery consists of samples of photographs that were considered for book cover


Photographs that were selected

no parking street sign ontario ca

no parking street sign ontario ca

book cover goodie

book cover goodie2



burning book ontario ca

burning book ontario ca

Related photographs/images that I like

List of sites I consulted:

Assignment 1 Self Appraisal

This assignment was started without a camera in hand.  Before I began shooting it was important for me to develop a list of attributes I wanted to embody in my collection of images.  For days in October I thought hard about what Central, Hong Kong Island said to me.    Diversity was definitely on the top of the list, then there was motion, and excess. Any additional  characteristics were subtitles to these major concepts.

Once I came up with the list of essential concepts I needed to decide on my approach.  I knew i wanted to get mainly outdoor shots of the crowds crossing at the intersection of Peddar street and Queen’s Road,  day and night shots of the skyscrapers, shots at the markets and of the constant construction. During much of October, November and early December I carried my camera with me whenever I could. Sometimes I brought equipment with me, namely a bag of lenses (including 12-24mm, 24-70mm, 70-200) and a portable tripod but quite often I brought just my camera loaded with either a 50mm 1.4 lens or a 12-24mm wide angle.  The minimal equipment was primarily for ease of handling so that I would feel comfortable taking it with me to wherever I went .  Sometimes I had specific images in mind, sometimes they just happened.

The shots of the crowd crossing the streets were very deliberate – I planned the time, the location, the equipment and the settings.  I had an idea of the what I wanted and I think I achieved it to about 85-90%.  The city scapes were done from our apartment rooftop.  I couldn’t plan the blue sky – I just reacted to it.  I used a heavy a tripod, wide angle lens and smallest aperture available.

Whenever I had my camera with me my sense of observation seemed much more acute.     All of my photo shoots took place while I was walking and with the exception of the shot of the Harvey Nichol’s window, all were taken outdoors.   Weather was a significant factor.  More often than not Hong Kong is overcast and polluted.  On the odd day that we are blessed with a clear beautiful blue sky one has to respond and take advantage of the opportunity.

All of my  images were shot in raw,  downloaded to Aperture and reviewed as soon as possible.   Each image was initially analyzed with respect to composition, exposure, white balance, sharpness, and contrast and during this process a short list of favourites was developed.   The culling process continued until I had just  very few shots left.  At this point  I took the selected few and played a little with Photoshop and with Nik Efex4. I actually felt that I had a quite a large pool of images to choose from but i was very conscious of wanting the the group of images to flow, to say something, to describe Central so I needed to be very selective.

I chose to present my collection on a blog.  I am quite new to this medium but I am enjoying developing my skills.  I find it quite versatile and I think it allows for a somewhat creative flow of images in a structured format.

So was I successful in achieving my goals? Does this collection portray my neighbourhood, namely Central, Hong Kong Island, accurately or does it at least reflect my personal perception of it?    I would say Yes to a certain extent but not completely.  I don’t think it is a finished project.    Just as Hong Kong is continually regenerating itself so my collection could continue to grow and evolve on a ongoing basis.      I think one element of this neighbourhood  that I missed out on was the multicultural aspect of the population.  Asians, Westerners, white, black, brown, all live and work together in this neighbourhood and I don’t think any of my images really reflected that. I know that I am somewhat intimidated to take candid photos of strangers.  This is definitely something I need to work on.  Also I would like to repeat the shot of the crowd crossing the intersection at lunch.  Even though I like many of  the images I got, next time I would try using a taller tripod; I would stand on a ladder and go out on a more overcast day.  I would also like to take more still life shots at the markets and in doing so be more creative with them.

I enjoyed doing this assignment especially because I love living in Hong Kong.  I hope my collection of images reflects that.

Assignment 1 My neighbourhood Central Hong Kong

Central Hong Kong – Urban Jungle -one in the same.  Its personality bleeds  diversity -in people, culture, wealth, food. It epitomizes sophistication, unrefined tradition, abundance, movement, vibrance,  culture.

(all images are followed by their raw versions)

Nikon D700, Nikkor 14-24; iso 200, 15mm, f/9 1/16

Cityscape on a clear day – a rarity in Hong Kong.

taken from our apartment rooftop

nikon D700 nikkor 14-24; iso125, 24mm, f/16, 1/125


raw image

At night Central is illuminated and is truly spectacular!

night shot from apartment

Nikon D700; Nikkor 24-70; iso 150, 62mm, f/22  45.6sec

At any time of the day the streets of Central are in motion.

crossing the road, lunch on a Thursday

Nikon D700,  Nikkor 50mm 1.4G, iso100, 50mm, f/16  1/5

raw image

The physical structure of Central is in constant flux.   Construction is everywhere, every day and on any street.

construction right in the middle of the busiest street - Lang Kai Fong

nikon D700, nikkor 14-24, iso 160,14mm, f/10, 1/50

raw image

Sophistication, art appreciation, wealth – it all abounds in Central.  Below is an image of an upscale art gallery, highlighting beautiful Asian women, with reflections of a typical hong kong taxi, a bus and a pedestrian in the front window.

art gallery on Wyndam Street.

Nikon D700, nikkor 24-120, iso 640, 24mm, f/8 1/30

One can delight his palette in an atmosphere of sophistication, at an hawker stall,  or a typical traditional Chinese restaurant. Every ethnicity is represented and all is delicious.

Nikon D700, Nikkor 24-120, iso 2000, 120mm, f/5.6 1/30

Nikon D700, nikkor 24-120, iso2000, 24 mm,  f/5 1/50

raw image

barbecued duck

Nikon D700, nikkor 50 1.4G, iso160, f/2, 1/100

seeds and beans

Nikon D700, nikkor 50mm 1.4G, iso 160, 50mm, f/5 1/60

raw image


Nikon D700, Nikkor 50mm 1.4G, iso160, 50mm, f/3.2 1/40

raw image

Central is a shopper’s mecca.  Haute Couture is easily accessible but the street vendors are hard to resist.

Find any high end designer in Harvey Nicks

window of Harvey Nichols

Nikon D700, Nikkor 50mm 1.4g, iso 800, 50mm, f/3.5  1/60

raw image

pashmina in the lanes

Nikon D700, nikkor 14-24,  iso 1000,  24mm,  f/6.3  1/60

raw image

There’s more to see and buy than just fashion.

chinese medicine shop

Nikon D700, nikkor 50 mm 1.4G, iso1000, 50mm, f/3.5 1/60

raw image

soho wine shop - part of the community

Nikon D700, nikkor 14-24, iso 400,  14mm,  f/6.3  1/125

raw image

Central (as it is known in Hong Kong) is definitely a fun place to be!

people of all sorts are found in Central

Nikon D700, Nikkor 12-24, iso160, 20mm, f/8 1/40

raw image

hands revisited

Today I went with my friend Amelia and with Terry and we tried to put our plan (using a back light to get a silhouette) into action.  The models were a bit nervous but so so cooperative and gracious.

We took images mostly of men today which was different than the last time.

one of the men had a cast

another was in a wheelchair

we had a mother and child come for a photo

many of the people who were having their photos taken were unsure of the situation and so were very grateful for the black silk covering their face

a little fashion

This past week I helped a friend of my daughter take some fashion shots of a few dresses she has designed.  She is applying to first year university and these will be part of her portfolio.

Having looked at some fashion websites, it appeared that pure white backgrounds are pretty popular.  This has never been easy for me – in the past my white background have turned yellow and I get unwanted shadows.  i would definitely say the main reasons behind my problems have been improper use of  background lighting.

I ended up setting up a small background light and had 2 lights behind soft boxes in the front.  One was high and at a 45% tilt and the other was straight on.

I set up my camera and this young 17 year old did a great job!


Have been taking my camera out most days.  Already I am feeling more comfortable.  I am looking at day to day activities in a different light. Photo below taken at Pedder street and Queens road in Central

Photos taken from our roof top.  Very unusual to have such a beautiful blue sky.

I am involved in a charity project, the goal of which is to help interested asylum seekers develop a skill in photography.  Yesterday we took some shots of just hands.  For various reasons most of the asylum seekers are unwilling to have their faces photographed so we tried to portray them by photographing just their hands.  The following images are from our first attempt.  I have some ideas for subsequent shoots.  We will seat the subjects behind a black curtain and shine a light on their backs.  Hands will again be in front of curtain but hopefully we will get just a soft outline of the person’s figure in the background.