Over the last few years I have spent a fortune on photography books. Most of them have been helpful and some have been particularly expensive and in hindsight perhaps not the best investment I have ever made.
The next generation of book publishing is well and truly here in the form of eBook, I have to admit I was a little sceptical at how easy digital books are to read but having dabbled I am hooked.
It is hard to believe you can get a 58 page ebook packed with top photography advice for $5 and this isn’t even a special offer ! The Magic of Black and White is the first of a two book series on monochrome photography. The ebook is written by Andrew S Gibson a photography writer for EOS magazine, Smashing Magazine and Photo Tuts+ (Andrew’s website is available here).
So what is the book about ?
I love monotone photography but can never quite grasp why some photos look good converted to monotone while others look, well frankly horrible. The Magic of Black and White deals with the fact that monochome photographs are a different medium than colour and require an ability to see in monotone.
“Becoming aware of the differences between black and white and colour images, in both how they are seen and what makes a great black and white image, is the first step to capturing images that will work powerfully in monochrome.”
We have all seen black and white photos that stand out as different almost stunning due to the very absence of colour. I have tried to recreate the same stark, confident style in my own work and I am learning slowly that the key skill isn’t in post production but actually spotting the types of scene that work in monotone.
Andrew has a real passion for black and white photography and attempts to break down the various aspects of the black and white photo and make sense of the what works in monotone. From texture, contrast and shape the book takes a fresh look at communicating through the still image.
Monotone photography is an art, it is photographer’s interpretation of a subject and if are even slightly interested in black and white photography then this could be the best $5 you will spend this year.
The eBook is easy to read and is particularly well designed. This isn’t a rough PDF created from a long blog article, it is a well thought out and designed product as if the book was in print format (see the screenshot above).
What I like most about this particular eBook is that it isn’t so much about photography but about art. The Magic of Black and White doesn’t teach you how to use your camera but challenges you on how to “see in monotone.”
Andrew offers a fresh approach to monochrome photography, the ebook looks at the elements of black and white photography in a way that will benefit the pro just as much as the complete novice. At 58 pages the book offers a quick easy boost to your creative eye and I will definitely be approaching black and white photography with a whole new mindset as a result.
Having read the eBook I look at my black and white flickr set and see photos that really are not suited for monochrome, lets hope you see a few improvements in the future.
eBook Reading Advice
I read the ebook on my Mac and would definitely recommend reading the book as a 2 page spread. In Preview click “View” and then PDF display to activate two page spread. In Acrobat go to: View > Page Display > Two Up. Tick “Show Cover Page During Two Up”.
Part two of the series isn’t available yet but will examine the means of creating stunning black and white images in the digital darkroom and I for one can’t wait !
If you purchase the eBook I would love to hear what you think and if you share the same excitement for monotone photography as a result… post your opinions in the comments.