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on 27 January 1998
_Camera Clues_ is an excellent reference for gleening clues from photographs and for serving as a basis for continued library-research into the multitude of topics covered. This book is an excellent launch pad from which to delve into the history of 19th century photography in general; some history of photographic equipment; some history of photographic technique; the interactions between general history/context and photography; as well as the more modern topics of trick photography, faked photographs, photographs used as legal evidence, and special effects. Even more important than the excellent summarization of information in this book is the extensive bibilography, as this book is written with full college-level expository-writing endnotes.
I have been restoring and copying my family's 19th-century photographs. Starting out from a basic exposure to 19th-century photographs on paper, glass plates, and metal plates, I learned much about the history of 19th-century photography from this book which is otherwise lost knowledge to the common person in this (almost-)21st-century world. I am actively using the bibliography for further investigations into focused topics.
If there were ever another edition, I would suggest more, more, more of the same, pulling in more history, more explanation of various discarded photographic technologies (e.g., carbrotypes, Lambertypes and the restrictive licensing of their patents), more context, more techniques of tracking down negatives from photography studios of old, etc. I find that there are 2 separate audiences for this book: 1) historical photograph detectives for geneological/etc work after the death of subjects in the photographs and 2) modern trick photography for establishing truthfulness, such as for a legal case. I think that both audiences hunger for greater treatment. I would request splitting this book into 2 volumes, where each volume is double or triple its current size, focusing in depth on the specific needs of those 2 disparate audiences.
The views contained in this feedback are the personal opinions of Dan'l Miller and are in no way connected with his employer or any other organization.
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on 27 July 2014
This is a review of the 1994 hardback edition. Joe Nickell is a leading skeptic, but this is not a book for skeptics, or at least not only for only for skeptics. The history of photography is discussed going back before the daguerreotypes. How do you date old photographs? Clues can be found herein, and fakes, these abound. There is a chapter on trick photography as distinct from fake photography, and the lengthy chapter on photographing the paranormal goes back to American con-man William Mumler; ectoplasm rears its ethereal head, as do flying saucers and the Loch Ness monster. Apart from honest mistakes, paranormal photography is by definition fakery, with the notable exception of Kirlian photography which can be abused by New Age cranks but does not involve fakery per se.

This is all good stuff, but the age of digital photography has been with us for some time, so don't expect to be able to spot the fakes so easily in future, if at all.
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