Fundamentals of Photography By Tom Ang
Fundamentals of Photography, by Tom Ang, in its 351 pages, covers nearly every photography-related topic. It does so with only two or four pages per topic, enough to make readers aware of the fundamentals of each topic but obviously not enough to fully explain any topic. As a handbook, it serves as a quick reference for rules and examples of various aspects of photography.
This semi-hard-cover book is written as a reference, easy to understand in almost any order, making it easy to jump between topics of interest. Each topic is well illustrated with plenty of sample images and diagrams as needed.
This photography handbook is divided into eleven sections of related topics, starting with What Is Photography and to sections like Capturing Light and Using The Lens. Each section consists of from eight to twenty-five topics. Topics themselves range from the very general like Workflow to the quite specialized like Long Zooms. With such wide coverage one cannot expect to learn photography but to gain awareness of its parts and how they relate. At this, Tom Ang's Fundamentals of Photography excels.
The big question with modern photography books is their approach to digital photography compared to film-based art. A great deal of photographic knowledge applies to both mediums and some books easily apply to both, although they may have been written before digital photography. In contrast to this, Tom Ang mixes digital and film throughout his book with very few exceptions. Besides these rare exceptions, the book applies fully to digital photography.
This book can be read from one cover to the other without boredom because every topic in it is new and repetition is rare indeed. To keep things clear, there is a good number of cross-references. Once can tell that this book is written by a photographer - or at least someone very visual - since every page has illustrative images or diagrams. These are both examples and references on how some things work. The four-page Lighting Setups topic for example shows eleven images and ten diagrams to show results and the setups which produces them.
Another great thing is the variety of subjects found in this book. Some directly apply to taking pictures like Aperture, while some cover the things that make photography work: Camera Construction, Eye and Camera Compared and The Spectrum.
The writing in Fundamentals of Photography is clear and concise with a factual and slightly formal style. Sometimes it can seem a little strict, leaving little room for subjectivity, but overall it fits well with the quick-reference style of this book. Images are well-chosen to accompany the text. The presentation is equally good with frequent use of headings and captions. The sections themselves have color-coded corners for easy navigation. Advanced topics have cream-color backgrounds and image analysis pages have black backgrounds. These analysis pages are great for putting several topics together as they explore single images one item at the time, describing the principles shown there.
In the end, this photography book shows that it possible to cover a variety of topics in a useful way without being too general. Being informative and non-sequential, Tom Ang's book is well-deserving of its handbook subtitle. This book is incredible useful as a launch pad towards more in-depth learning. After all, one can only begin to learn something after hearing about it. Fundamentals of Photography does exactly that, it tells readers about most photography topics, so that readers can know where to go next.
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