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Photography Book Reviews

You can call it the digital disease of photography or perhaps the death of photography. The reality is that digital has caused a decline in the quality of photography. There are several reasons, one of them being the speed of digital and the resulting lack of thought before the shutter is released. Quick on the draw and not enough careful consideration.

This has been a hobby horse of mine for a few years and some have said get off and stop flogging a dead horse. They may be right and maybe a little wrong. But, there is a solution or rather a number of solutions. The one I want to consider is getting back to basics. In most vocations when skills diminish it’s time to get back to basics. This is where the problem lies in digital photography. The bottom line is that in order to learn digital photography you need to learn the basics of photography.

There are two things that need to be done then. Get back to the basics or if you haven’t learnt the basics, begin with them. Here is where the big question lies. How do we get back or begin with the basics. The operative word is learning. Learn photography or learn digital photography. Picking up a camera and shooting doesn’t make you a photographer. So what do we do? Acquire the skills. This is much easier said than done.

Our current generation is the most fortunate generation as we have the internet and the ability to read, read and read. Again easier said than done. What I would like to suggest is that acquire specific literature i.e. books on photography. The internet is full of them especially electronic downloadable editions. But lets go beyond this and back to the paper books. There are a number I’d consider to be fundamental to any aspiring photographer’s library. So here are a few suggestions:

1. The Digital Photography Book by Scott Kelby

Scott Kelby gives you the simple insider tips pros use. There are three volumes in the series with each building on the next and providing great tips from the pros. It’s easy to understand and very simple to apply resulting in great photographs. I love his fresh style of writing although is a prolific author and has produced many best sellers. He will keep you interested with his humour and expertise while making photography simple to understand. I always feel highly motivated to take photos after reading his books.

2. Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with a Film or Digital Camera (Updated Edition) by Bryan Peterson

Exposure and how to use aperture and shutter speed always confused me until I read Bryan Peterson’s book on exposure. A must have book in your library. He makes the whole concept of exposure simple to understand and easy to implement in your personal photography journey. If you have any doubts to your knowledge and application of exposure principles then this is the book for you.

3. The Photographer’s Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos by Michael Freeman

Michael has been around for donkey’s years and handles a subject that every digital photographer needs. Composition. By understanding composition your photographs will improve a hundredfold. Michael has a way of getting the point across in a simple way and will help to make you into a photographer who is able to compose with a true photographer’s eye.

4. Learning to See Creatively: Design, Color & Composition in Photography (Updated Edition) by Bryan Peterson

For some of us seeing creatively is a natural ability while with others it’s something we need to learn or acquire. This is one of the best books I have read on creativity in photography. This is the ultimate book on creative photography. He takes a simple concept and gets you taking images you would never have dreamed of taking before reading the book. Complemented by his Youtube videos this book is a must.

5. Digital Photography Masterclass by Tom Ang

Tom Ang has been around a long time and with this book takes you further along you photographic journey. Great assignments throughout this book. He will take you to a new level. I love a book that has assignments as it is the practical that will always get you moving along your photography journey. A little more for the advanced amateur but nonetheless a great book.

6. Understanding Shutter Speed: Creative Action and Low-Light Photography Beyond 1/125 Second by Bryan Peterson

This book is linked with his other one on exposure and helps cement your understanding of how to use your shutter speed. It complements his other book, Understanding Exposure and with these two books in your library you will never look back. His style is easy to understand and gets you thinking while at the same time motivates you to take photos and experiment.

7. Understanding Digital Photography: Techniques for Getting Great Pictures by Bryan Peterson

Getting the shot is what it is all about. Bryan gets you thinking before your press the shutter button too quickly and succumb to the disease of digital. If there was a one man solution to this problem it’s Bryan Peterson. This book should be the textbook of all photography learning experiences. A must for the beginner written by a top photographer who knows what he is talking about.

These are just some of my favourite authors and photographers who have enhanced my photography dramatically. By going back to the principles of good photographic composition and learning photography and not just digital photography you’ll become a better a more rounded photographer. Don’t allow digital to take you backwards. Take the principles of great photography and apply them to digital. Remember, great photographers take great photos using any medium, digital or film. Keep learning and don’t stop making great images.


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