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on 1 August 2012
I love this book. Every page breathes a passion for photography. The technical knowledge demonstrated is immense and shows he has been there. But in addition to the pure technical expertise, the author shows a deep reflective approach to creating an image that communicates what the photographer really intended. For intance, he pointed out one of my common faults in always achieving high contrast in an image, which then negates the peaceful mood I really wanted.

I get the impression this book was originally written just for black and white photography, then later updated with sections on colour photography. It still feels like 95% of thje book is based on black and white. Until I read this book I considered colour as the only way to go because the real world is in colour. But it opened my eyes to why black and white is still important and motivated me to try converting my colour images properly to black and white. I think even a dedicated colour photographer can gain from this book because of the quality of the material presented.

The front cover image gives an idea of who will enjoy this book. If you enjoy the black and white image presented and wish you could create such a compelling image yourself, then you will enjoy the book. But if the image does not move you then you may not.

The book includes a section with very detailed coverage of dark room development for specific films to get the most from a negative. As a digital photographer, this was wasted on me. But the book is so large and has so much other useful content that a few pages to be skipped did not bother me.

I probably have 70 or 80 photography books. I would consider this right near the top in terms of the help it has given me, and with something that none of my other books have. Several books are a light read and I may not come back to them because the points made are 'obvious'. This book requires more concentration and I will still get more from it when I re-read it. Excellent.
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on 15 July 2013
I bought this book on a recommendation from Ken Rockwell, and I will be forever grateful that I did. This book is comprehensive, highly readable, and inclusive with something for everyone:
- from those of us still shooting B&W film to those who are fully digital
- from beginners to experienced photographers
- from those interested in landscapes to architectural, portrait etc.

The book covers the full photography "lifecycle" from visualising/shooting the photo to developing the negative/digital image to printing. It covers:
- visualising the end product
- composition
- lighting
- colour
- use of filters
- Ansel Adams' Zone system for film and digital (in language that I could understand, for a change)
- negative development
- printing your works of art
- preserving them for posterity
- understanding/developing your own style

So far, this sounds a bit like dozens of other photography books out there. What makes this one different is:
- the vast coverage of topics and details
- his sharing of a large number of techniques which, if followed, will make you a better photographer/artist
- the excellent use of photos to demonstrate the principles Bruce writes about
- the ability to illustrate the integration of the photography process from the moment something catches your eye up to the moment you have the finished print
- its great readability. He is able to take otherwise complex ideas and turn them into perfectly understandable ones

This book does not talk about gear, so if you're looking for information on cameras, lenses and other tools you won't find it here.

I learned a lot from this book, even though I considered myself a reasonably experienced photographer. I've had so many "ooohhh, now I see" moments. I am happy to say that this is the best photography book I have ever owned. I am about to embark on my second reading, having just finished my first reading of it.
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on 17 April 2012
Like many, its the technology of photography that initially attracted me to the hobby but this book provides a great read if, like me, you're trying to better understand the art of photography. The author describes the thinking process behind many images in detail and this helps to illustrate the approach that you need to take to create photographic art. In addition to helping re-program your photographic brain, the author also provides many practical tips that can be used to enhance your photographs so that you can clearly express yourself.
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on 2 September 2011
I bought this because it was recommended reading and I am very glad I did. It is full of great advice on all aspects of photograghy and it matters very little that it contains a lot on B & W as it is all applicable knowledge and anyway there is a whole chapter on colour and digital. Do not skip the classical Darkroom chapters or you will miss out badly on understanding the origins and techniques used digitally now in Lightroom such as unsharp mask and more. As said in other reviews it has all you need to read on the zone system and the way to use a light meter.
It is not a light read for beginners (no pun intended)
I found this book extremely informative and will continue to use it as a reference work in future. I have the book but will also get the kindle version.
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on 20 September 2013
I didnt like his pictures and I didn't enjoy the writing style. There were places where the author's opinions just grated. If you write your own book, you can say what you want, but if it gets in the way of the message, it defeats the purpose of writing a book in the first place. I decided to take a quick look online about the author, (after reading a passage where he was berating someone for conventional photographic wisdom on the zone system I think), and found that in the photo forums he draws heavy criticism for his style of teaching.

I could not believe how unprofessional it was to see on the inside cover of this book a quote of a review from a member of the general public to the effect that BB's book is better than Way Beyond Monochrome, or Elements. The point being that such self agrandissement is distasteful.

If you want to look at technically beautiful photos, pick up a copy of the out of print Elements, and if you want a book on technique, get an Anchell book, or better still, a book by Henry called Controls in Black and White Photography. I also like Les Mclean or Blakemore for inspiration and technique.
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on 26 June 2012
I am a professional photographer and I've read a good number of books on photography and photographic techniques, including Perfect Exposure: The Professional Guide to Capturing Perfect Digital Photographs and The Photographer's Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos by Michael Freeman. This book is in a similar vein but goes into a lot more detail and provides numerous examples and in-depth descriptions. It's a slightly heavier read than a lot of other photography books and can get quite scientific but well worth the extra time. Most of the examples in the book are black and white and the author - Bruce Barnbaum - is a true master of the field, taking a creative eye and a very methodical approach and producing awe-inspiring photographs. Unfortunately, even after reading The Art of Photography, I'm still not as good a photographer as Bruce!
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on 5 April 2011
In my view, it's an excellent book about composition. Having read Freeman's "Photographer's Eye" (and Mind) books just before, I think this one is better. I am a colour photographer but I found it very useful (even if all his examples are black and white) as the same composition rules apply to both colour and b&w photography. It is not a book for beginners as a reviewer said before, although deals with exposure matters, it won't teach any camera settings. His "break the rules" statement should be taken with a pinch of salt. IMHO,it's better to stick to the rules, know them, apply them for a while and break them once you "feel" them. Unbalanced compositions or images with lack of contrast/colour are impressive when done well, but tricky to master. Not an easy reading, but a masterpiece!
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on 16 March 2014
I loved this book so much that it deserves my time to write this review. This is truly a book that can teach how to be more conscious about your photography which leads to becoming a better photographer. I loved how the author delves into the very essence of taking a photo- really thinking about what interests you in what you see and what's the best way to compose it. That and the fact that the author is very open and personal throughout the book makes it exceptional in a photography book world. thanks for such a great book.
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on 14 September 2015
Out of all the Photography books that I have I'd be happy to say that in the few days I've had this particular book by Barnbaum it offers an insight and style of reading that is perfect. His use of English and clear and authoritative delivers an engaging read with clear advice. Maybe if you only ever buy one other book then this is the one you should have on your shelf to read cover to cover.
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on 29 March 2013
Well I almost gave this 5 stars.
It is quite profound and well thought out.
The author covers in depth discussions about the true nature of photography
The text is very well written, and points well argued.
I would have liked more street photos and portraits.
That said, I really appreciate the work that went into this

Review update: I have read quite a lot of it now, and find the thought process and concepts very solid.
This is a serious work on the subject, and I might easily have rated it 5 stars, not 4.
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