Title Reviewed:
Architectural Photography: Techniques for Architects, Preservationists, Historians, Photographers, and Urban Planners

Author Reviewed:
Jeff Dean

Author:
Timothy E. Peterson

Date:
1982

Source:
Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 78, Issue 4, pp 370-371

Article Type:
Book Review

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Architectural Photography: Techniques for Architects, Preservationists, Historians, Photographers, and Urban Planners. By Jeff Dean. (Nashville: American Association for State and Local History, 1981. Pp. x, 132. Illustrations, figures, tables, appendixes, bibliography, index. $19.95.)

With the growing interest in the preservation and restoration of our architectural heritage, it would be hard to find a more timely publication than Jeff Dean's Architectural Photography: Techniques for Architects, Preservationists, Historians, Photographers, and Urban Planners. Dean's book is a primer intended specifically for the non-professional photographer who may frequently need to take architectural photographs skillfully in conjunction with his work or hobby. The book gives a concise review of the many problems encountered by the architectural photographer and the techniques and equipment required to overcome them. Dean pays particular attention to solving the problem of converging parallel lines in architectural photographs, which is caused by the lack of perspective control on the lenses of most 35-millimeter cameras, the standard equipment of most amateurs.

Additionally, the author gives many useful hints on selecting the right film, lenses, screens, filters, and other equipment; some basics of good photographic composition; and when the best times of the day are for taking pictures. He also provides information on how to submit photographs to the National Register of Historic Places and the Historic American Building Survey.

Indeed, there is so much information in this brief volume that, unless the reader has some previous knowledge, he may be overcome by all the new information. Anyone in this category might pay careful attention to the frequent charts, tables, and diagrams. They are easy to comprehend and impart a good understanding of the topics discussed.

One area where the book is lacking is in its description of the schools of architectural photography. The predominant school, called the "antiseptic" school, portrays buildings in their most photogenic light. The other school regards these flawless photographs as "misleading distortions of reality, masking truths by artificial purity" (p. 1). Dean draws the line between these two schools but does not tell the reader how to take anything but "antiseptic" photographs. A longer discussion in the chapter on composition, dealing with the problem of how to capture the broader environment of which a building is a part, would have been useful to those photo-historians who are attempting to show something about the society that interacts with its architectural surroundings.

Overall, however, the book is highly informative and easy to read. It can be recommended highly to every amateur photographer.

Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis Timothy E. Peterson



Published by theĀ Indiana University Department of History.