With more than 2 million books published worldwide each year, sometimes it feels that half of them are about photography. Despite the slight exaggeration, photography books, technical and aesthetic, bombard us. Selecting which ones are worth the time and trouble to read can be a challenge.
Recently, Focal Press released two books worth considering. Camera and Craft (1st edition) by Andy Batt, Candace Dobro, and Jodie Steen as well as the sixth printing of Exploring Color Photography: From Film to Pixels by Robert Hirsch with Gref Erf excel in depth of content.
One of the difficulties of selecting technical photography books is that they tend to go out of date within a few years. This does not seemthe case here, both books are well organized, carefully edited and offer thoughtful perspectives on the ever-emerging field of digital photography. Most importantly, the authors provide a context for innovations and techniques. In Camera and Craft, featured photographers discuss specifics such as the decision-making process in the fields of art and commercial photography as well as photojournalism. Technical issues covered in the text include such topics as processing Raw color, lens evaluation, and chromatic aberrations. The question and answer format in this book, however, is not has engaging it could be, but does lend a sense of authenticity to the work. It should also be mentioned that Camera and Craft is part of Focal Press’s popular series The Digital Imagining Masters, which is based on the progressive curriculum at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
While Camera and Craft seeks to provide a broad overview of many issues in digital photography, Focal Press’ new edition of Hirch’s Exploring Color Photography: From Film to Pixels targets the fundamentals of technical and aesthetic considerations for imagemakers. Without question, this is a book dominated by a concise understanding of the field. Hirsch’s expertise as a photographer and author of several technical books on photography as well as his contributions to such journals as Afterimages, Contact Sheet and the Photo Review provide a solid background for the subject. Exploring Color Photography, known as “The Bible of Color Photography” offers a lot of background including perspectives on the physiology of the human eye, history and innovations, as well as a thorough comparison between the differences between film and digital color.
As far as technical books on photography go, Hirsch's "Exploring Color Photography" is a classic. Published by Focal Press, Hirsch's painstaking commitment to explanation, description and illustration is impressive. For the past few weeks, while teaching beginning and advance digital photography classes, I have repeatedly turned to the text for inspiration. From exploring color contrast and harmony to special effects filter and printing paper, the author demonstrates a vast almost encyclopedic knowledge of color theory and application. This is a no-nonsense book that goes beyond the technical reference manual that appears the mainstay of many "how-to"s today. The book, with contributing writer Gref Erf, goes deep into the history and impact color has had on photography over the past century.