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May 7, 2008 > Book Review: Photography, History & Science

Book Review: Photography, History & Science

By Robert A. Garfinkle

Photography, History and Science, by Gerald H. Robinson (Carl Mautz Publishing), 2006. Pp. 176, index. Price $21.95, (hardback ISBN: 1-887694-27-7).

You do not have to be a photographer or student of history to enjoy the history of photography as presented by Oregon photographer, historian and retired lawyer Gerald Robinson. His style is friendly and non-technical. Robinson focuses his reader's attention on a few important events of the 20th century and discusses how photographers covered them. Most chapters are devoted to the influence of an individual photographer.

The book also explores the interplay between science and photography. When astronomers attached photographic cameras to telescopes, many great discoveries of the universe were made. Photographs revealed celestial events and objects too faint for the human eye to capture at the eyepiece. They also allowed scientists to study celestial changes that take many years to notice, or the variability of certain stars.

One chapter is devoted to the art of photographing the nude human form. The author states that "The unclothed human form is the most persistent and controversial subject in art; it appears in all media including photography." He breaks down the types of nude photographic areas as: the ideal form, the nude as design, the erotic nude, the nude in an environment, the surreal nude, and the nude portrait. Robinson concludes that "The photographic nude is thus a challenge for the photographer, the subject, and the viewer."

I found this to be brief though interesting work on the study of the history of photography as it relates to historic events. I came away with a new understanding of the work that goes on in the photographer's head as her or she works to perfect this craft and bring the events to everyone, and not just the participants. I recommend a good look at this book; then get out there and perfect your own photographic skills.

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