From Oz 2 Kansas by Vincent Versace - Book Review

September 21, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

I ordered "From Oz to Kansas" by Vincent Versace and received it this week. After reading the Acknowledgements, Forward and Preface I was extremely excited about what is written on the cover:

"Almost Every Black and White conversion Technique Known to Man"

If you are anything like me you can't help but peruse the Table of Contents and jump from one fascinating subject to the other to see what the author is teaching and recommending on the conversion of digital images to black and white. The book comes with directions to a web site to download the images that Versace wants you to use for the exercises in each chapter and along with images to work on there is a set of PhotoShop "Actions" that can be loaded, but he recommends doing each of the exercises manually before beginning to use the "Actions". This makes perfect sense given the need to grasp what is really going on. Versace also quotes Einstein and states that is usually best to do what is the simplest and then goes on to show that the simplest isn't always the best way to handle an image.

One of the first tasks in the book is to de-saturate clouds using the Hue / Saturation adjustment and creating an adjustment layer. As he states in the text we see clouds with the human eye as white and gray. But if we look at the saturated images provided we realize that the clouds also take on color from the blue sky and in the instance of the one image there is a color of tans / browns on the bottom of the clouds that is reflected back into the clouds from the dry and parched grasslands below. By moving the Saturation slider to -100 and the Lightness slider to -1 we see the image before us transformed into black and white (gray scale). Later on using an image of a beautiful lady (that is my observation and not in the book) Versace walks you through de-saturating the RGB Channels and you are given the opportunity to compare them one by one with a black and white image taken on Ilford HP5 Plus film 400 ASA pull processed to 200 ASA. What is lost here is the color relationships between red, blue and green translated to the grayscale. He then asks if you would ever use such a conversion and states that the answer may surprise you.

I have just begun to work through the First Chapter, but based on scanning through future chapters I see how much I have to learn, but I'm more excited about the benefit it will have on my digital black and white conversions. Below is the review that I posted on Amazon. I hope that it will encourage you and others to buy the book and take the time to learn what the author has to teach. It can only result in far better conversions of digital images into black and white and take your skills  to a much higher level.  My short review:

"From Oz to Kansas" is a long overdue book on being able to replicate and create the black and image that was available to the serious photographer or professional in the "film age". Vincent Versace has accomplished something that I could only dream of in creating this masterpiece that eloquently flows through the steps of reaching "Digital Bliss" in black and white. It is written in a manner that is easy to comprehend and follow and ultimately leads the reader / photographer on a journey of discovery that will allow you to express your artistic goals from the inception of an image until it is ready to print. How to replicate the nuisances of black and white film digitally with complete and thorough examples, steps and vision applied to our world of "Digital Photography". This is the beginning point to an endless journey of discovery allowing you to express your artistic vision with grace and accuracy. It is far more than a technical "How to" create the image you envisioned. There are far too many books, on-line courses and incidental instructions in the technical aspects of PhotoShop that lack vision and an understanding of the artists' goal. This is not one of them. "From Oz to Kansas" will not leave you wanting!

Please take the time to sign my Guest Book!  We are all on this journey and I hope to meet you along the way.

Fred Thomas


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