Book Review – The Art of Black and White Photography

Mar 30, 2012   //   by Richard   //   Photography  //  Comments Off on Book Review – The Art of Black and White Photography
The Art of Black and White Photography, 2nd edition, reviewed by Richard Hamilton

When I first started shooting in the 1970s, I used black and white film and did most of the developing myself. I have always loved black and white photography and was really looking forward to reading The Art of Black and White Photography. However, it appears that the book is primarily meant to “facilitate both amateurs and professionals as they transition from analog to digital…[while helping] you become familiar with digital photography and focus again on the image in the digital age”. I stopped using analog (film) over 10 years ago. I don’t know anyone that has used film in the past five years, so I found it puzzling that the author put so much emphasis on analog photography. In fact, I found it very frustrating at times. For example, he does a wonderful job of explaining color filters and then concludes by saying “color filters just described lose their effect, lead to flat images, and are therefore useless in digital photography”. To his credit, he does then explain what you need to do with digital photography in lieu of the color filters.

The author states that “this book will stimulate you to analyze images in-depth and will motivate you to find your own photographic style”. Unfortunately, for me this didn’t happen. I will admit that this is a very personal opinion, but there wasn’t anything in the book that made me go “wow”. Furthermore, while the photos were okay, I didn’t find them great or inspiring.

Having said this, I think the book would be a wonderful resource for someone who is still shooting film and is looking at transitioning into digital. In Section 3 of the book the author does a good job in discussing and demonstrating the Rules of Composition, including pictorial composition, the golden ration and elementary construction, triangular composition and so forth. I found that Section 4 of the book does a good job providing an overall introduction to the Digital Darkroom (Photoshop CS5) including the steps to convert your digital photos from color to black and white, simulating analog filter effects, brightening dark areas while increasing midtone contrast, adding grain, dodging, burning and retouching the photo. He also spends a chapter explaining how to partially manipulate a photo using the Lasso Tool in Photoshop.

In summary, I think the book would be useful for those individuals that are transitioning from film to digital and have little too no knowledge about digital photography and Photoshop.

Disclosure: A copy of this book was provided to me as part of the O’Reilly’s Blogger Review Program on the understanding that I would read it and provide an honest review. If you are looking to join a review program, I highly recommend that you consider O’Reilly’s. Full details of the program can be found by clicking on the following:

I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program

The New Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II

Aug 29, 2010   //   by Richard   //   Photography  //  Comments Off on The New Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II

I am excited…I have just ordered Canon’s new 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens.  I imagine those that know me are saying…WHAT…a zoom??  You see, for years all I would shoot was primes (also known as fixed focal length lens).  Don’t get me wrong, I love the convenience of the zooms, but until now, they just didn’t have the same sharpness that the primes gave.  And to say I am a stickler for sharp photos is, well… a rather large understatement.  Primes also have the benefit of being light and because they can be really fast (i.e. where the lens “wide open” is at f/2.8 or larger), they are excellent for low light shooting:

Cayman National Orchestra

Photo was taken on 9 May 2009 at a concert by the Cayman National Orchestra and the Cayman National Choir in low light with a Canon 5D Mark II and 200mm f/2.8L prime lens with no flash

I admit that the main trade-off with using primes is that you have to carry a number of lenses to compared to just one zoom lens.  By way of example, to cover approximately the same range, you can carry a 70-200mm zoom lens while I would have to carry my 85mm f/1.2L II, 135mm f/2.0L and 200mm f/2.8L II. A really great article on primes verses zooms can be found here:  So, when Canon announced the new 70-200mm I started researching the lens, reading all the reviews I could get my hands on (for all those that provide reviews…Thank you, I find them extremely helpful).

What can I say, I love equipment (an no, there is no such thing as too much equipment).  However, I will not buy equipment for the sake of having it.  For me to acquire it, it must bring something to the table that I don’t have and allow me to focus on my photography.   So when I found the 70-200mm MTF chart and considered what the reviewers were stating about the new 70-200mm giving the 135mm and 200mm (two of Canon’s sharpest lens) a run for their money, I started seriously thinking about the lens.   This past week I broke down and placed the order for the 70-200mm.  Time will tell, but I don’t see the zoom replacing my primes, but supplementing them.  Much in the same way that I noticed Jasmine Star shot a wedding this past Friday (27 August 2010) on creativeLive’s online Wedding Photography Course ( ).  Essentially, she used primes for the majority of the shots and pulled out the 70-200mm for the actual wedding service.  I saw that and said, yeah, that’s what I had in mind 🙂

I am looking forward to adding the lens to my equipment bag and will post some photos once it arrives.

What are your thoughts on primes vs zooms?  Have you tried Canon’s new 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II?  Let me know what you think.

Thanks for stopping by.

Viewed 1000 times

Dec 30, 2009   //   by Richard   //   Photography  //  Comments Off on Viewed 1000 times

In early June of 2009 I set a goal for myself to produce a photo that would be viewed at least 1000 times on my Flickr account. As with any good goal I also included a deadline…the end of 2009. I then proceeded to break my collarbone and stopped shooting. Fortunately, in mid-June I participated in the first assignment of the Book Camp II with a head shot of Suzy and myself floating in a swimming pool. I am very excited to write that the photo, which I have enclosed below, was viewed today for the 1000th time on Flickr!

Headshots of Suzy and Richard for the Strobist Boot Camp II

I would like to thank everyone who viewed the photo, and pay special thanks to those who left their comments.


Caymana Bay Observation Tower – Photo Blog’s topic of the week

Nov 24, 2009   //   by Richard   //   Photography  //  Comments Off on Caymana Bay Observation Tower – Photo Blog’s topic of the week

Last week I spent the week in New York city on business. I cannot remember ever seeing so many yellow taxis in my life (never mind in one place). I unfortunately did not take my camera with me as I knew that I would not have time to take photos. So this past Sunday, Brigitte and I took a drive and the camera came for the ride :-). One of the places we visited was the Caymana Bay Observation Tower. The Tower is absolutely beautiful and includes a undersea glass mosaic consisting of in excess of 3,000,000 titles. Accordingly, the photo’s in this week’s Photo Blog are of the Observation Tower. To see the photos and learn more about the Observation Tower, please stop by my Photo Blog.

Have a great week.

A Beach Wedding – Photo Blog’s topic for the week of November 2, 2009

Nov 3, 2009   //   by Richard   //   Photography  //  Comments Off on A Beach Wedding – Photo Blog’s topic for the week of November 2, 2009

After four months of not using my camera for more than a few minutes at a time (due to my broken collarbone) I have recuperated to a point where I am ready to start using my camera. It was therefore fortuitous timing that I was asked to photograph a beach wedding this past weekend. So I thought, what better topic for this week’s photo blog than the photos that I took of Simone and Pierre’s beach wedding on Seven Mile Beach in the Cayman Islands which can be viewed here.

Have a great week!