Photography more than any other art seems destined for causal analysis. Pick up any book on photography and it’s a guarantee that its title is “How to take Better Pictures” and within its pages lie a superficial discussion on “composition” and a variation on the Zone System. Such books are almost always unhelpful, insufferably boring, and upwards of thirty dollars.
Subtitled An Open Source Primer to Working with Light, The Bastards Book of Photography takes what Mr. Nguyen calls a “low-maintenance” approach. He doesn’t recommend cameras or lenses–in fact, he has a whole chapter on whether or not you should buy a camera at all. No discussions of the Zone System here. Instead, he concentrates on keeping it simple and using visual aids. The book is meant to be “practical, not intimidating” advice for people who are just beginning to take photography a little more seriously than posting iPhone pictures made with an Instagram filter–but not much more seriously.
In the spirit of open-source software, the book is in a constant beta version, waiting to be expanded by whomever feels the desire to make a fork and expand it, or, alternately, waiting for Mr. Nguyen’s own next version. It may be awhile before this happens, but even as it stands now, it’s a pretty good start.