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The Camera (Book Review)

The Camera by Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams may be the best known American large format landscape photographer of the Twentieth Century so it would be disingenuous to regurgitate his life story. However, beyond the man and the brand that has evolved in his wake there were several key points worth putting into this book review. Adams was co-creator of the Zone System for film exposure and development and he was a co-founder of the f/64 Group, each a significant contribution to the history of photography beyond his life-long career making photographs.

The Camera (Ansel Adams Photography: Book 1) is the first in a series of three books that follow through with The Negative and finishes with The Print. This series is the culmination of a life behind the camera and working in the darkroom and offers the aspiring film photographer invaluable information about the craft as passed on by an established master photographer.

The Camera begins as a straight forward description of different types of film cameras available to the market and explains the basic functionality behind the operation of taking a photograph. It then delves into some more complicated areas the photographer needs to have a broad understanding of to gain best results – aperture, depth of field, parallax effect, circle of confusion, and the basic understanding of lenses and shutters. I found these to be strong consolidating chapters that were worth re-reading after a few days because they could be a little abstract. However, the effort to understand the mechanical device in your hands can only pay dividends when you go out to make photographs.

This book is basically the primer for how to make a photograph in a camera and the equipment used to achieve that result. And it is without doubt a primer before The Negative to ensure the reader / student understands the vernacular topography before embarking deeper into the lessons of craft in this series. So, at times, I felt it was a book that offered me little… then suddenly, out of almost nowhere, Adams threw me a gem of profound understanding that made it worth the read.

I would recommend this book as a staple primer for anybody wanting to make better photographs. If you don’t understand the simple science behind the machine you are placing hope and experience at the mercy of a black box. So, the more you understand how different aspects of the camera work, the more you can control the outcomes.

And I can only tip my hat to one of the men who mastered this medium.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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