Langford’s Basic Photography: Chapters 1 and 8

This week I purchased Langford’s Basic Photography book [Michael Langford, 2010. Langford’s Basic Photography: The Guide for Serious Photographers. 9th Edition. Focal Press.]

This is one of the books which is recommended reading as part of the Photography 1 – Expressing Your Vision course for the Open College of the Arts (‘OCA’) BA (Hons) Photography degree.

I thought the reading I would get with this degree would be heavy going but actually this book is very information indeed.  When you start a degree course you are given guidance as to how to read research materials, which sounds strange but it’s the only way you can quickly get through the parts you need, you are then able to go back to the other parts when needed.

OCA suggest the following basic reading techniques:

Skim to quickly gain a general impression of the text – focus on headings and key words.
Scan for the information you require – read only what’s necessary.
Read thoroughly for deeper knowledge – analyse and assess the text.

So I thought I would test this out, so initially I looked through the contents of the book to see if there was any relevant sections to the work I was currently studying.  Or whether there were any section that I thought would be fun to read just as a person interested in photography.  I landed on two sections:

  • What is photography? – Chapter 1
  • Organising the picture – Chapter 8

It was from these two chapters that I found some very useful and relevant texts;

  • names of photography practitioners who I hadn’t heard of before for further researching in particular Elliot Erwitt (b: 26 July 1928), a French advertising and documentary photographer, who I have now referenced in my Assignment one ‘Square Mile’ (still to be assessed and posted online),
  • information on image composition and subject qualities which I think will have relevance to Part one ‘From that moment onwards…’,
  • a reference to Martin Parr’s work, who I will be going to see at the Guildhall Art Museum and the Barbican in the not so distant future,
  • the impact of using portrait or landscape orientation,
  • the rights or wrongs of cropping,
  • the influence of line and patterns in an image,
  • the impact of perspective and contrast,
  • references to ‘decisive moments’ which I think will be useful for Assignment three ‘The decisive moment’,
  • it also includes a photography timeline matrix from circa 400BC to 2006 (a little out of date) showing; date, image technologies and processes, photography and art, culture and current affairs plotted alongside each other.  Did you know the photocopier was invented in 1937?
  • lastly there is a glossary of photographic terms, which for a beginner like me is invaluable.

I am really looking forward to reading the rest of the book as required, this is very much a dip in and dip out kind of book, but has loads of really useful information in it.

Happy reading!


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