By Doug Goldring on Wed, 02/02/2011
Nuclear weapons hold a somewhat unique attraction in our society. They are at the same time the most destructive force imaginable, and yet many of us are drawn to it, not unlike moths to a light bulb. I have always been simultaneously drawn to and repulsed by nuclear weapons, and so I was intrigued by the iPad ebook, How To Photograph An Atomic Bomb, which takes you up close and personal with atomic weapons, and even takes you behind the scenes in some of the efforts to record and film nuclear explosions.
In addition to the subject matter of this book, I found this ebook to be the perfect vehicle for displaying the iPad’s unique qualities. Like any good coffee table book, How To Photograph An Atomic Bomb is chock full of vivid and spectacular photos, which work together to tell the story. Interspersed among the photos is plenty of explanatory text and captions, all of which works together to show you the difficulties and technicalities that goes into the work of photographing atomic bombs.
Up until now, we have essentially found a very nice coffee table book for the iPad. What makes this one unique, however, are the spectacular videos, which allow you to view the explosions in high definition, even showing on a frame-by-frame (both backwards and forwards) basis exactly what happens when a nuclear bomb explodes. One nice thing here is that you can tap the screen at anytime to pause the playback, and even move the slider by hand in order to watch the video one frame at a time if you choose, allowing you to study each frame in excruciating detail if you choose.
This just takes the storytelling to a whole new level, utilizing all of the tools of the iPad to the fullest extent possible. The only thing missing from the book were the inclusion of contemporaneously recorded audio recordings. This would allow the people depicted in the photos to help explain exactly what was going on at the time the photo was taken. Even without such recordings, however, the book is really a multimedia extravaganza, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Moving back to the subject of the book, I thought the authors did an extremely nice job writing and presenting this one. It tells the story of the atomic bomb by focusing on the brave (and maybe a little crazy) men and women who attempted to photograph and film the weapons and explosions. While there are a few images of the bombs which were dropped on Japan during World War II, this is hardly the focus of the book, which is a real shift from most books about nuclear weapons. Instead, the author uses the War as a jumping off point, showing the development of the bomb following these early efforts. The result is a variety of unique and vivid photographs, capturing nuclear explosions (as well as the efforts to capture them) in ways you have likely never imagined.
If you are like me, and find yourself strangely drawn to nuclear explosions (while remaining at a more than safe distance) then you will certainly enjoy this book. More than that, though, I thought the developers did a fantastic job of using the book as a jumping point to delve into the full capabilities of the iPad as a multimedia platform. The addition of video was absolutely splendid (as well as effective) even if it was a bit underutilized. How To Photograph An Atomic Bomb is the perfect multimedia experience for any World War II buffs, history buffs, or even those of you who justhave an interest in learning more about this most deadly of weapons.
How To Photograph an Atomic Bomb is available in the iTunes App Store for $9.99 from AtomCentral. It is based on the book of the same name by Peter Kuran.