Light and Film

Book Review

3 min read by Dmitri.

Light and Film is one of those well-produced large-print hardcover lookbooks. At least that’s how it appeared to me in its colour sections. Most of its pages are black and white, gleaming with lead paint. But what I think really makes it valuable is the learnable material it is filled with. Much of which has informed some of the educational articles on this website.

Light and Film book, page 11.

It’s hard to believe that I managed to get this piece of print for less than a dollar. In 1970, the year it was published, it must’ve cost around $50 in today’s USD.

This book is written by a team of Time writers and carefully arranged to compete with the multitude of educational materials for film photographers.

The book covers history and science of all the basics you’ll find in the Beginner’s Guide to Film Photography but in greater detail with fantastic full-page colour and black and white illustrations. The material is sectioned into six chapters: Light and the Photographer, The Evolution of Film, Photographing the World, Modern Film, Exposure: Key to Image Quality, and Taking Pictures by Artificial Light.

The material the authors chose to present on its 200+ 26cm ╳ 26cm (10⅝” ╳ 10⅝”) pages seems well-condensed yet efficiently informed. It’s enough to give someone new a good theoretical understanding of a film camera before picking one up. And, despite its target audience being novices, a pleasant read with at least a few nuggets of knowledge not found in other books or the Internet for those who’ve been shooting film for years.

However, this book is pretty old, and thus it completely misses the modern aspects of film photography. There’s nothing on scanners, digital editing, new chems & tools, etc. Though this book may make for a fantastic bedrock of knowledge, I can’t say it’s enough to read as a beginning photographer aiming to learn all the basics in 2021. It is always good to stay on top of things these days.

Despite its few shortcomings, I loved reading it, including the sections that had material I was already familiar with. It looks great on my bookshelf, and I’m looking forward to the day I can lend it to someone starting out with film. 🤓