Collins Complete Photography Manual by Various Authors
|Collins Complete Photography Manual by Various Authors|
|Reviewer: Paul Harrop|
|Summary: An admirably broad and detailed survey of the art and science of photography. Ideal for the complete beginner and for the more serious amateur snapper.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: October 2007|
Taking pictures, it might seem, has never been easier. Digital cameras are within the reach of nearly everyone. Buy a mobile phone, and it's difficult not to acquire a camera at the same time. Yet taking great photographs is as tricky as ever. As more of us have the opportunity to take pictures, so some will want to take that interest a step further. Hence the value of books like this.
Assuming no knowledge, The Collins Complete Photography Manual skilfully steers the beginner through a bewildering mix of art and science. Although the authors state that it's as much a reference work as an instructional course, the newcomer could do worse than read from cover to cover.
It starts with the technology, attempting the inadvisable by reviewing the current state of play and trying to predict the future. This is, of course, the one chapter which will seem laughably outdated in a couple of years. But it offers a good overview without getting too obscure.
The same can be said for the whole book. As with any volume trying to tempt newcomers into a field of arcane knowledge, it faces a dilemma. How do you introduce every aspect of a subject, yet not deter the beginner with scary technicalities? On the whole it bridges that gap admirably. It's general enough to give the wariest tyro a thorough grounding, yet still offers enough detail to engage, and even occasionally surprise, those with a little knowledge.
For example, the discussions of different types of lenses is kept practical, rather than venturing into daunting theoretical optics and maths. A good balance of minimal, but crisply-written text, diagrams and, as you'd expect, photographs, makes a complex subject pretty clear. Although the book accepts that many readers will be using compact or even phone devices, its bias is towards the flexibility and creative scope offered by SLR cameras.
This is where the more creative aspects of photography - using shutter speed, depth-of-field, composition and lighting - come in, making up the core of the book. It covers most of the basics in short two-page sections, with frequent use of double-page spreads containing one large photo. There's even a section on photographing winter sports. This, I could only assume, was a particular interest of one of the contributors, as it can rarely be on the agenda of many amateur snappers.
Given the massive ease and creative potential of software for enhancing photographs, the authors wisely provide a good slice of practical advice on digitally processing your pictures. For the ambitious or deluded, there's even a section on selling your work.
However most will, like me, use this book as an adjunct to an aesthetically-rewarding hobby. As someone who has read a few photography manuals, I was familiar with much of the subject matter. But there were still several genuinely useful tips - such as using the camera's built-in self-timer rather than a cable-release to avoid camera shake, or the fact that 'high-speed' memory cards aren't worth the extra money.
I might make minor quibbles about the inclusion of a section on 'using a scanner' at the start of the book. Such a marginal subject would surely have been better in a technical chapter at the back. And the coverage of darkroom processing, little more than a curiosity for most in this digital age, was so minimal as to be gratuitous.
However the book generally manages a perfect mix of breadth and depth. It will provide enough knowledge to get you into photography, inspire many to read further and, more importantly, make you want to get out there and take pictures.
You can read more book reviews or buy Collins Complete Photography Manual by Various Authors at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Collins Complete Photography Manual by Various Authors at Amazon.com.
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