The Physics and Art of Photography is a new series of 3 books by John Beaver, forthcoming from Morgan and Claypool publishers, as part of the IOP Concise Physics series (expected publication, January 2019).

Volume 1: Geometry and the Nature of Light

Volume 2: Energy and Color

Volume 3: Detectors and the Meaning of Digital

This is not yet-another comprehensive how-to survey of photographic technique.  Instead I explore some of the underlying physical principles that help build a firm foundation of basic understanding, useful for whatever techniques one chooses to master.  But more than just practical, I portray physics as part of the study of nature.  And so as a born nature-boy, I believe (and try to make the case to the reader) that photons (for example) are fascinating, in and of themselves.

My approach to photography as an art is partly personal.  I have my own take on things, that is not so much controversial as sideways to what most others stress.  As such, I use my own photography for most of the examples.  My goal is not to provide a broad and balanced survey of art photography, but rather to point to some artistic concerns that I believe are interesting and helpful for thinking in a fundamental way about where photography fits in as an art in this modern digital age.

For these three separate tracks -- the underlying physics, the overlaying art, and the actual practice of being a photographer -- I treat each as valuable and interesting in and of itself and as needing no further justification.  But I also hope that I show how each can serve as a point of departure for a deeper and more practical understanding of the others.

And so The Physics and Art of Photography has five basic goals:

  1. To ask basic questions about how photography fits in as an art, and about the nature of art itself.

  2. To ask basic questions about the nature of physics as part of the study of the natural world, and about the nature of science itself.

  3. To gain some practical knowledge that will allow the reader to more easily learn technical aspects of photography, as they are needed.

  4. To gain some practical knowledge that will help the reader more easily learn to be a better photographer.

  5. To expose the reader to a set of interesting photographic processes and tools that are not usually covered in a beginning photography course.

I assume no specific prior knowledge apart from the basic skills required to graduate from high school.  If you have little experience with photography, it is my goal that The Physics and Art of Photography will help form a useful foundation from which to learn about photography in whatever way that works best for you.  If you are a seasoned pro, but looking to set off in a new direction, then I still hope that you will find much in The Physics and Art of Photography that is fresh and inspiring, and it is my goal that these books will help to open new possibilities.