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11-01-2009, 10:05 AM   #1
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Book Question

I have just moved to W. Africa and seem to be getting time in the evening to read a lot. The problem is I don't have a good book- being a new photographer I want to pick up a book that is almost a photography course in a book. Anyone got any ideas on a great book that I should pick up?

Thanks in Advance

11-01-2009, 12:12 PM   #2
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Most people will recommend 'Understanding Exposure' by Brian Peterson which is a very good book. There is also the 'Digital Photography Book Vol I, II and III' by Scott Kelby which is popular. I've just come across 'Light and Lens - Photography in the Digital Age' by Robert Hirsch, it's one of the course books for my photography class. It's probably the most expensive of these suggestions but it's pretty comprehensive as it covers all aspects of photography from the basics to post processing to colour management to critiquing. It also has exercises for you to do in most chapters so may be the one that fits your needs the most.
Of course it's usually best to get a variety.
11-01-2009, 01:09 PM   #3
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You'll find the evening the best time to go out and take photos!

Most of the basics are covered by sites mentioned in this article:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/photography-articles/23232-learning-basic...echniques.html

Gary's suggested excellent books to read - I can vouch for Brian Peterson's books (Understanding Exposure and Understanding Shutter Speed).

I also made a few other references in my post on your sunset thread in case you were interested.

All the best in your journey learning about the art of photography!
11-01-2009, 03:17 PM   #4
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For really learning the basics of photography, I always suggest "Basic Photography" by Michael Langford. You can add "Advanced Photography" later... The current edition accomodates more info on digital, as my older ones. But basically many old fashioned photography books will serve you well.

A favourite are also the books by Andreas Feininger, who goes very much beyond pure technology (though he gives you the necessary foundation).

Ben

11-03-2009, 04:39 AM   #5
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THANKYOU for the suggestions, as anyone every used Kelby's book? Good? Bad?
11-03-2009, 09:06 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by liberiabound Quote
THANKYOU for the suggestions, as anyone every used Kelby's book? Good? Bad?
No, haven't read any, because I prefer photography books written by real photographers, not by editors (however be their merrits). If I need a book on Photoshop, I certainly will look into the SK titles, though.

Ben

Last edited by Ben_Edict; 11-04-2009 at 02:55 AM.
11-03-2009, 04:33 PM   #7
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I have read Scott Kelby's first two digital photography books and a couple of his photoshop elements books. He is targeted at upper beginner to lower intermediate level photographers. He has a quirky sense of humor that comes through pretty quickly. Some of his material is just filler stuff, but some of it is really useful. The thing about Scott Kelby is he tends to take a scenario and break it down how he would shoot it and what settings he would use, rather than explaining the theory behind it -- how aperture, iso and shutter speed interact.

I guess I would get a Scott Kelby book as a second or third book, but not my initial book on understanding photography.
11-03-2009, 07:36 PM   #8
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I haven't read Kelby, but I also highly recommend 'Understanding Exposure' by Brian Peterson. It is a true course on getting exposure right (and a relatively short one at that). I enjoy it a great deal.

11-03-2009, 07:51 PM   #9
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I like John Shaw's "The Nature Photographer's Complete Guide to Field Techniques". It has a lot of good information about... field techniques. But the advice is very straightforward, and helps me with other types of photography as well.
11-03-2009, 08:14 PM   #10
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A book I like a lot and use for teaching classes that has a nice mix of creative ideas and technical insights without all the heavy math is "Total Digital Photography" by Chris George. Very well illustrated with good example images. Over 300 pages, about 200 on photography and about 50 on Photoshop basics and 50 on output to printer & web, etc. For beginner to intermediate, with good stuff for Advanced also. He lists tables of numbers for things like shutter speeds to use for motion and another for avoiding hand-held blur. Also, there's sections on camera techniques to use for several different types of subjects.
11-05-2009, 05:24 AM   #11
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"Understanding Exposure" has an updated edition, which I assume deals directly with digital photography.
I mention this in case someone is considering buying a used book or borrowing from a public library.
11-05-2009, 07:13 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by liberiabound Quote
THANKYOU for the suggestions, as anyone every used Kelby's book? Good? Bad?
I have all 3 of them. I like them and have picked up some decent pointers. They are basic books and lately I seem to be getting back to basics.
11-05-2009, 09:13 AM   #13
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I am primarily a nature photographer with a little portraiture thrown in. Here are the books that I have on my "keeper" shelf.

ESSENTIAL READING:
I'd definitely recommend Understand Exposure by Brian Peterson as your first stop in your photography library. The information is well-organized, approachable, and provides a good starting point for your own projects. The key with this book is go through the chapters by taking sample photos, lots of them, and truly learn the concept that is being covered by seeing the results on screen or even printed.

The Photographer's Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos is a superb book if you're looking for guidance on making stronger compositions. It's chock-full of examples and diagrams explaining the concepts. This is one I continue to read. His other books get mixed reviews so I've not explored past this single volume.

Digital Nature Photography: The Art and the Science by John and Barbara Gerlach. An extremely comprehensive book on digital photography and photographing nature. You can use the techniques described to approach portraiture and other topics as well. I find this book to be the best overview of methodology in the digital age, especially as it applies to nature photography. Highly recommended as a beginner to mid-level book.

OPTIONAL:
The Art of Photographing Nature by Martha Hill and Art Wolfe. Absolutely packed with great photos and written in a Q&A approach addressing a wide range of topics. This one is essential for the nature photographer, especially those looking to take a more technical and informed approach to their work. The book focuses both on technical detail as well as composition and decision-making as well.

I own almost every book John Shaw has written and continue to review them. They are, unfortunately, mostly film-based and don't cover a lot of digital photography oriented topics. For example, in his Landscape Photography book, he has recommendations on long exposures for different types of film and their compensation values. This was relevant 15 years ago, but not anymore. These are still great books for browsing, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend them to a new digital SLR owner.

NOT RECOMMENDED:
I've read two Scott Kelby books and try as I might, I just couldn't get past his absolutely juvenile sense of humor. I can't emphasize this enough if you're irritated by people who think they are comedians (and fail miserably). The information is in there but it's available in far more comprehensive and far less annoying forms in other books. My recommendation is to skip these.

Last edited by Rich_A; 11-05-2009 at 09:26 AM.
11-05-2009, 07:24 PM   #14
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Recommended

QuoteOriginally posted by Rich_A Quote
ESSENTIAL READING:
I'd definitely recommend Understand Exposure by Brian Peterson as your first stop in your photography library. The information is well-organized, approachable, and provides a good starting point for your own projects. The key with this book is go through the chapters by taking sample photos, lots of them, and truly learn the concept that is being covered by seeing the results on screen or even printed.

The Photographer's Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos is a superb book if you're looking for guidance on making stronger compositions. It's chock-full of examples and diagrams explaining the concepts. This is one I continue to read. His other books get mixed reviews so I've not explored past this single volume.
I definitely recommend the two above. They are very good. Three others that I use a lot are:

SHOOT: Everything You Wanted to Know About 35mm Photography by Liz Harvey

and

The Kodak Professional Photoguide (mine is the 6th edition.)

and

Light and Lens by Robert Hirsch

I know that two of the ones I've mentioned are from the 35mm era but they have a huge amount of information about photography, whether it is 35mm or digital. I actually have several photography books but my measuring stick for a really good book, worth taking to another country with you, is how often I return to it for more guidance after I read it the first time. All the books I have listed here meet that yardstick, in fact, a couple are getting worn enough that the covers have been duct taped back together. There is so much useful information in these books, and they are written so well, that they can easily become the core of a good library of photography books.
11-06-2009, 11:35 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rich_A Quote

NOT RECOMMENDED:
I've read two Scott Kelby books and try as I might, I just couldn't get past his absolutely juvenile sense of humor. I can't emphasize this enough if you're irritated by people who think they are comedians (and fail miserably). The information is in there but it's available in far more comprehensive and far less annoying forms in other books. My recommendation is to skip these.
I can take or leave Kelby's humor. The books by him I've found useful are the "Photoshop xx books for Digital Photographers". Very practical and to the point. It's an alternative to structured textbooks.

I've skimmed through Kelby's Digital Photo books 1 & 2 at the bookstore and I just didn't like the way they're organized. I guess it depends on the type of book you like (as I mentioned with the Photoshop books). Seemed more like a series of photography tips listed from page to page. I like a more structured, organized book where there's more depth to each subject category than hopping and skipping through lots of ideas.
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