Summary and Info
When I bought this book I was fully aware that the latest edition (8th) was available to ship immediately while this previous 7th edition will still be ordered. Yet, I stuck to this older 7th edition as I wanted a book that was written solely by Michael Langford before he died. The 8th edition is a collaborative work based on his previous editions and written by several authors.
What I like most about this book is the more dogmatic approach to the basics of photography. That's the way I wanted it. No funny anecdotes, no jumping and bypassing guidelines. Just straighforward discussion of the fundamentals with awareness of what is possible when you intentionally disregard the rules.
For example, Langford explicitly states that the best place to learn lighting is in a studio. I can imagine some people would argue with it, but I take it at face value. This is what I mean with "dogmatic" teaching. I shall let experience teach me otherwise when I have shot thousands of pictures already. For the moment, I want to learn the rules and internalize them. This is not to say the author advocates strict complaince alone. Not at all. He emphasizes the basics. Creative licence is up to you.
Again, veterans may say, there are no "rules" in photography; only good pictures. It's easy to say that IF you knew those "rules" by heart to begin with and can make contrary decisions for your own creative purposes. But as an amateur or a novice, my belief is following guidelines is still best. Following, even copying what the teacher does is still valid. Individual creative decision will come on its own time.
This book is about basic photography yet it is generously illustrated and very revealing. The principles (equipment, techniques, lighting, etc...) were illustrated using mainly film, understandably. But the author also discussed digital cameras and digital manipulation which are outdated now owing to the technology available when the book was written. But his teaching is right on the money, including the ones on digital ethics. The author shows you the basics, shows you where you stand in relation to the big picture out there, and gives his opinion on where photography is going and where you might be depending on your options.
No doubt as you gain more experience you will drift towards more specialized photography books. But if you are totally clueless about photography and want to learn, if you want to know its very basic principles, then I highly recommend Michael Langford's 7th Edition Basic Photography as a very useful reference. All the accolades he got for this book were well deserved! I have several other photography references like John Shaw's Nature Photography and Lee Frost's A-Z of Creative Photography, for example. But I put them all aside for the time being and concentrate instead on Langford's Basic Photography.
This is a very decent, well-written book for those willing to spend the time to educate themselves on the basics of photography- whether you shoot film or digital.
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