He has taught workshops since After working for several years as a mathematical analyst and computer programmer for missile guidance systems, he abruptly left the field and turned to photography in late His photography expands upon the dynamics he finds in both nature and the works of man, relating forces to the sweeping forms that dominate his vivid imagery. Visually he emphasizes the best of humanity and nature, sometimes with bold realism, often with degrees of abstraction to heighten the mystery. He understands light to an extent rarely found, and combines this understanding with a mastery of composition, applying them to an extraordinarily wide range of subject matter. Bruce is also recognized as one of the finest black and white traditional darkroom printers on this planet.
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Overall, I learned much and found this book wonderful! For the former aspect, I will recommend it to all Ph. In eighteen chapters, the book covers much ground. It first discusses photography as communication Chapter 1 ; followed by the elements of composition increasingly technical, from the general discussion about composition in Chapter 2, to the presentation of light and color in Chapters 5 and 6, respectively. Then, the book explains the core of photographic technique, with filters and the zone system exposure explained carefully in Chapters 7 through 9; Chapter 9, on the extended zone system, explains how to work in a high dynamic range with visible results and dispels the myth of only 10 zones being available to the film photographer.
Chapter 11 introduces digital photography as a complement to its film counterpart. Chapter 12 closes the circle of technical aspects of photographyafter visualization, exposure, development, and printing, with presentation dry mounting and correcting mistakes in the mounted picture. After a summary of the most common faults of thinking about photography Chapter 13 , Chapters 14 through 18 present a debate about artistic integrity, meaning and limitations of photography as an art, and creativity and personal philosophy.
I enjoyed very much the analysis of many things creative and technical regarding film photography. Having started from digital, I can finally understand some of the things that differentiate the two approaches, and also some of the unifying themes like the zone system vs channel histograms. The discussion about art was, for me, exquisite.
The formulation of a vision for each photograph is a concept that is novel for me, but following various fields of artistic interest and merging visualization with perfect execution are ideas that resonate with me. The explanations and discussions about these matters were cogent and delightful, even when I did not agree with the tone or even the argument. I was very impressed with the discussion about the professional limit imposed on creativity by obtuse editors, curators, and reviewers.
Simply, these categories of professionals may severely limit the art and published expression of artists to "what sells" or to what each artist has come to be known for. I found the part on creativity refreshing, if a bit trivial. There are very few things I did not like in this book. Perhaps, at least in the beginning, the toneBruce talks disparagingly of beginners, people adhering to rules of composition, technically adept people, pretty much everyone who does not take what Bruce considers to be a pure approach; yet, in Chapter 17, Bruce becomes human and admits than lack of control over the visualization of the image can be useful.
Another slightly negative aspect was the treatment of digital photography, rather limited and in general considered less good; again, the view expressed in this book varies, depending on the subject to photograph, so perhaps digital is not so bad.
Last, but not least, the conviction of the author that great photography is always the result of respectful, caring, and in general feelings about the subject of the photograph was unsubstantiated; simplistically, I believe a good, artsy photography could be produced not only by luck by an amateur, especially with the great advances of technology. Some aspects of the book are hard to grasp, but worth re-reading.
Help me understand technically why I like some photos and not others. Read it. Mar 19, Nicholas Doyle rated it liked it A painfully dry and boring textbook on photography. I read as much as I could and had to give up.
About Bruce Barnbaum
After working for several years as a mathematical analyst and computer programmer for missile guidance systems, he abruptly left the field and turned to photography. Bruce is recognized as one of the finest darkroom printers on this planet for his exceptional black-and-white work. He understands light to an extent rarely found and combines this understanding with mastery of composition, applying his knowledge to an extraordinarily wide range of subject matter. Bruce has authored several books that have become classics. After having sold over , copies, it is now in its revised second edition. This book became an instant bestseller and is sure to remain a classic for years to come. The Essence of Photography, released in , is now in its second printing.
The Art of Photography : A Personal Approach to Artistic Expression
The Art of Photography: An Approach to Personal Expression