John Hedgecoe’s Complete Guide to Photography

John Hedgecoe Complete Guide to photography.
This is a review of the revised edition of John Hedgecoe’s Complete Guide to Photography, first published in 2004. I’m not sure when I bought the book, but I believe that it was sometime in October of 2004. This is actually the first book on photography that I had read. I believe that I saw the book on the shelf at Barnes & Noble, and then went home and looked up some other reviews before purchasing it.

While the book is not in-depth on any one subject, it does provide a very wide coverage of photography. I had learned a great deal about the physics behind capturing images on film from the www.photo.net tutorials of Philip Greenspun. Hedgecoe helped me find the images to capture. The book starts with two sections (65 pages) of information that I already knew, but read through anyway – things like camera type, shutter speed, aperture, types of film. After the first two sections, Hedgecoe covers 69 different projects that I consider to be very useful.

The projects are geared toward finding interesting subjects for photography and explaining how to capture them. Each is filled with images that clearly illustrate the concept being discussed. I found that most of the projects could be accomplished using almost any camera, as the projects focus more on the subject than the technique.

I still pick up the book occasionally to use as a reference, finding myself re-reading the first, fundamental projects. To condense what I’ve learned into a list – things that I look for when taking a picture are:

  • Shape
  • Form
  • Texture
  • Pattern
  • Color
  • Tone
  • Composition
  • Viewpoint

– but not necessarily in that order. Usually, it is only one or two items from the list that will grab my attention, and then I will try to work in as many others as possible.

While I would like to see the book go more in-depth on the technical technique needed to get the most out of each project, for $19.95 I feel that I got more than my money’s worth. I would recommend this book to anyone getting started in photography that hasn’t taken a class somewhere that may have already covered the material.

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