Customer Review

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been clearer, 24 Jun 2006
This review is from: The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes (Paperback)
This book is quite exhaustive in its coverage of the subject matter, including even quirky material on the use of fruit to create photographic images.

However, it is a book which suffers from a lack of effective editing. The overall structure is unclear: why include a chapter on plastic cameras in a book on processes? why cover paper-sizing in the middle not the start? why deal with the processes in the particular order chosen? Furthermore, the structure of each chapter is quite inconsistent. These defects make the processes difficult to follow.

I came to this expecting clearly staged explanations of how to use negatives and how to assemble a basic set of equipment. Instead, negatives are poorly described, and the use of a contact frame is not really fully explained anywhere. It's possible to work out what's required by cross-referencing, but given that acquiring, making, and using this equipment is essential to most of the processes, more clarity would have been helpful in this area.

The author's style is chatty and expansive. I can see how this might appeal to some readers. Personally, I feel this adds to the overall lack of focus of the book. Similarly, many of the illustrations are strictly unnecessary, and line-drawings illustrating the processes themselves would have been more useful.

A minor point is that this very long book is printed on relatively low quality paper.

To conclude, the author clearly knows his area, and there's much here that is good. It's not the sort of book someone would buy unless they have some idea of what they're letting themselves in for. Nevertheless, had more overall structure been applied and the chatty tone curtailed, a more systematic book would have been the result. Given that this is a specialist antiquarian area of photography to which newcomers like me will be increasingly scarce, it's a shame that such a volume does not welcome us in with a more user-friendly style.
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