Review: Unravelling the Mysteries of the Little Black Box

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Unravelling the Mysteries of the Little Black Box book review images (1 of 5)ISO 4001-100 sec at f - 3.2

It’s not very often that an innovative book for photographers makes a splash, but Unravelling the Mysteries of the Little Black Box is an eBook that will turn heads and make you excited about learning all of the intricacies of the art form. Even as a veteran photographer for many years, I found the content in this book from Shaun Hines to be absolutely wonderful.

So what makes the book so innovative? Unlike many other eBooks on the market, Mysteries of the Little Black Box has multiple interactive elements. You aren’t simply just flicking from left to right to read scenes. The book requires active involvement from the reader to get the most from it.

And if you’re going to recommend any book to a person still learning, hands down this is the one.

Ease of Use

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The book starts out with two different tutorials: one for tablet users and one for desktop users. To get to read the section, you’ll need to click on the page in the bottom left. This is part of what makes the book so innovative: the whole section that you’re looking at in the image above is a chapter.

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As you progress though the book, you’ll see more chapters with their pages down below. Once you’re in the pages though, you can swipe from left to right to interact with the book just like, well, an actual book! But what makes this feature so great is that you can navigate chapters so much easier. Just by swiping right on this screen you can immediately go to the next chapter and jump right into a section that you can learn about. That means that you can skip the rest if you feel like you don’t need it: like the chapter on composition. However, the interactiveness of each chapter combined with the exemplary artwork will make you want to spend hours and hours deep into it.

We read the book on the iPad mini. Our only major complaint is that we wish that there were an option to make the text larger just like other eBooks.

In our original email to us, Mr. Hines said the following:

“The publication has a very distinctive and individual design, this is a direct result of noting a recurring and negative attitude from my students towards their camera manuals. They found them basic, visually uninteresting with a tendency to promote auto shooting modes and, naturally, very few cover the topic of composition.

With a strong desire to bring engagement and enjoyment in to the teaching of photographic principles, ‘Unravelling the Mysteries of the Little Black Box’ is my way of addressing the issues mentioned.”

So to cater to the new generation and even to those that are sick of reading their manuals, the artwork and information presented inside will be a fresh new approach to teaching.

Content

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The content inside of the book is really, really informative. Mr. Shaun Hines uses lots of cool artwork to teach the reader many aspects of the art form and it also teaches you little tidbits of random knowledge that you may not know about. Indeed, this is a book for the truly unpretentious and unbiased photographer that really just loves to geek out about all of the details.

Mr. Hines goes into detail to teach various things both technical and artistic. He starts out by talking about the history of photography, then moves onto how a camera works, then metering (a very, very important chapter), composition, focal lengths, and about practicing the craft. The chapter on composition focuses on the rule of thirds, but it also talks about more than that. For example, Mr. Hines brings up the subject of leading lines and how they will work with the human eye’s ability to make sense of a scene’s geometry.

Conclusions

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We’ve never, ever had so much fun reading a book. In fact, paging through Unravelling the Secrets of the Little Black Box doesn’t even feel like you’re reading a book. Consider it a picture book for adults and teenagers who have evolved into much more visual learners as time has progressed.

Shaun Hines has put lots of care, time, and creativity into creating the book, and you’ll even want to pick it up over and over again not only for the information inside, but also just to see the beautiful illustrations.

We give Unravelling the Secrets of the Little Black Box our Editor’s Choice award. If you’re an iDevice user, check the iBook store. Otherwise, it’s available for download on desktop.