E-books by Roger Hicks is an annex to the series on every-thing you wanted to know about photography by renowned writer duo, Roger Hicks and Frances Schultz.
In fact, the first two titles in the e-book series, ‘Black and White Step by Step’, and ‘The Accessory Book’ are approximate-ly of the same length as that of the traditional printed books; bundled with over 80,000 words and more than 300 pictures. However, the third book ‘Choosing and Using Tripods’, is more of a condensed version at 25,000 words, containing over 100 pictures.
The idea of putting together the e-books in PDF format, came about primarily for two reasons, one to complement the magazines (perhaps the fact one wouldn’t want to read more than 80,000 printed words about ‘Black and White Step by Step’, and that too in one article). Secondly, to deal with subjects that book publishers no longer want to put on paper, such as the traditional silver halide black and white photography or accessories. PDFs may seem a little eccentric but nonetheless, currently they seem to have two big advantages. Moreover, it can be read on virtually anything, from pre-Fire Kindles to iPads to computers, and more importantly, it keep pictures and text within hailing distance from one another.
The first e-book, Black and White Step by Step is divided into two sections. While the first section is more or less a guide to choosing and using film cameras, in all formats, with step by step illustrations as to how to load and unload 35mm, roll film and large format. In addition, it all discusses about how to precisely get the focus and exposure correct. The second section deals with all the right constituents of creating a darkroom. It also tells you how to process and wet-print black and white film all by yourself, with plenty of step-by-step shots. Importantly, the book is largely written for digital camera users who want to learn and understand what the film and film cameras were like in the past. The e-book is available on www.rogerandfrances.com for US $9.99.
The Accessory Book is the second in a series of e-books from the same authors on photography, and it comprehensively covers all accessories, old and new. The e-book is a must for every keen photographer, collector, photo-historian and photographer’s assistant, because it is a gold mine of tools and (to a lesser extent) on techniques. It goes without saying that techniques are pertinent, but with the right tools, you may be easily able to adopt new techniques. However, accessories aren’t as important as they used to be in the past. The reason, generally most people are perfectly happy with point-and-shoots, often bundled into their mobile ‘phones.
In comparison, the 1950s and 1960s were probably the zenith of accessories: cameras often had very little built in, and people needed (or at least bought) exposure meters, close-up adapters, auxiliary lenses, flashguns, synch leads, shoe-mounted viewfinders and a whole lot more, including even auxiliary rangefinders. For that matter even a camera bag was often referred to as a ‘gadget bag’. Nonetheless, throughout the book the emphasis is on four things. Firstly, its all about capturing the best pictures possible. Secondly, the emphasis is about keeping the equipment as simple as possible. Thirdly, spending as little money as possible. And finally, about finding the right kind of accessories you want.
For US $9.99, Roger Hicks supplies endless solutions to photographic problems old and new. In fact, he suggests that some of the problems may never have actually happened in the past. To re-live the past, he identifies obscure and ancient accessories; and encourages one and all to browse and find out, how creative photography has changed over the years, especially from being more complex to much more simpler and easier.
In Choosing And Using Tripods, the authors advocate two really strong arguments for using a tripod. One is increased sharpness, and the other is when you want to set up the camera in one place, for whatever the reason. But it is extremely difficult to find a tripod that is solid, light and cheap. Of course, solidity, lightness, cheapness and compactness (when folded) are not the only characteristics to look out for in a tripod.
That is precisely the reason why the authors argue that tripods are overwhelmingly the most convenient camera supports for most people. But that may be only for particular applications, and there may always be better alternatives. The simple point is that there is not one, single, perfect, universal camera support. There are only the best solutions (or sometimes, the least worst solutions) to the given problems. However, to get the best benefit of a tripod, especially with long exposures, the best solution would be to use a cable release. The e-book cost is considerably cheap. At US $2.99, the book tells you pretty much a lot about tripods, tripod heads and other camera supports.
Reviewed by Mathew Thottungal