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DPChallenge Forums >> Tips, Tricks, and Q&A >> good books on digital photography??
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08/18/2003 09:53:16 AM · #1
Hello everyone,

I'm almost a complete newb when it comes to all this, I owned a simple compact 35mm camera as a kid, and due to the long turn around time between taking photos and seeing the result, plus the cost of film.. processing etc. never really got into taking photos much..

Anyway I just got myself a digital camera (Olympus C350-Z) and after stumbling on this site I'm also beginning to see photography as something more than just away of recording moments in my life, and I want to learn how to take better shots, so can anyone recommend a good book..

I dont want anything too simple.. I know what most of the jargon means, I just don't know best how to apply the knowledge.. In particular I know how to use a computer, so I don't want a book that wastes alot of pages explaining what a pixel is, what a jpeg is and so on.. or anything that holds my hand explaining how to connect my camera to my USB port.

I would like tips on composition, lighting, setting up good shots, ideas for photos, ways to use image manipulation software and so on...

I'm also wishing already that I had a camera with full manual controls rather than just my 5 (or is it 6?) exposure programs, but I think that may be me getting ahead of myself, so I guess I just need to know how to get the most from it..

So, what books would people recommend, I'm considering "Digital Photographers Handbook" by Tom Ang, but are there any others that people would recommend??? I guess I need the book to be more a guide to the photography part rather than the digital part, but I still want to know how best to use programs like photoshop and so on.

Thanks in advance for any help,

Message edited by author 2003-08-18 09:57:33.
08/18/2003 10:28:04 AM · #2

Welcome to DPC and the wild and wooly world of digital photography. You've asked a question that will have as many answers as there are people but here's my two cents. Bryan Peterson's "Learning to See Creatively" can get you to look at things differently. There's an out of print book by Andreas Feineger(sp?) called "The Complete Photographer" that has some interesting insights into photography. A lot of the "regular" film books are quite helpful in the digital world since it's just two different ways to record light. Each will have their nuances. Probably the most often suggested technique to get better is to shoot, shoot and shoot some more. Again, welcome and we look forward to seeing what you come up with.
08/18/2003 11:24:44 AM · #3
Thats what I love about digital and why I never stuck with film cameras, you can shoot as many frames as you think you need to get it right and it doesnt cost you a penny! (ok maybe a bit in electric to recharge your batteries :))

My shots I'm most pleased with so far have generally been when I've taken as many as 20 or 40 exposures from different angles slightly different light and so on.. that way you're bound to get something half decent. Thanks for the heads up on the books, I'm heading down to the bookshop now to do some browsing.

As a side question (I guess I should put this in a seperate thread) any recommendations on the best places to build up an online portfolio... I'm aware I can join here, and that there are some other ones... I don't particularly mind paying either as long as the service is good. My only annoyance is that I'm stuck on dialup so uploading a hires pic takes forever, but theres nothing I can do about that untill I get myself into a situation where I can get broadband.
08/18/2003 12:05:50 PM · #4
Tomc - Just be wary of the digital photography books. Many of them are 75% about processing images. Personally I looked for books more weighted toward actually taking the pictures and not so much for the processing. I was going to recommend the "Learning to see Creatively" book, but Seeker already has. I did purchase Kodaks "Learning to take good pictures" or whatever they call it. Its very comprehensive. I think for me, composing a good photograph was where it all had to start. Playing with the software to see what it could do taught me more than anything else. I'm sure I'm still not using it to the fullest, but I'm getting what I want out of it. But first things first, you have to start with a good photograph before you need to worry about anything else. I've picked up some decent used books from the Amphoto series (late 70's) that have given me some pretty good tips on stuff like informal portraits and wedding photography.

Good luck in your quest. - Bob
08/18/2003 12:24:41 PM · #5
There are many books out about digital photography and the vast majority of them cover the same basic material which is targeted at the normal individual taking snapshots with a digital camera.

I have found two books, by Tom Ang, that are very useful for the more serious photographer, " The Art of Digital Photography" and "digital photographer's handbook".
08/18/2003 12:33:09 PM · #6
I bought the "Digital photographer's handbook" by Tom Ang. The book is o.k. over all, and tries to cover everything, all from how monitors work to available gear when the book was written. Much of it is useful for a beginning photographer like my self, but some of it is irrelevant. And again, about 75% of it is about post processing. I missed more about composition and such matters, and maybe I'd be better off with a general book about any photography, not just digital (most of the basics cover both)
08/18/2003 01:12:48 PM · #7
The only photography book that I have looked at is Digital Photography: 99 easy tips to make you look like a pro! by Ken Milburn, because I found it at the school library. It was pretty good regarding the basic content, which included things like Aperture Priority, Manual, Macro, Burst, blurring backgrounds &c.

However, instead of going to an internet store to buying a book, there is nothing like going to a library or a bookstore to see what they have and make sure that the contents are right for you. =)

Watch out as thickness does not equal better. Some books are written because the authors are paid by the page.
08/18/2003 04:17:58 PM · #8
Hmm, thanks for the comments. I wandered down to my local waterstones this afternoon and had a look at some of their books, wasn't overly impressed with the selection. I did however see one of Tom Angs books "Advanced digital photography" I think.. which I liked the style of, good quality, glossy pages, nice photos, and good descriptions, shame the content wasn't really what I was after.

I agree thought that digital manipulation is largely useless without a good pic to start with, but I would like to learn about this area.

So.. I think I'll probably buy a copy of "learning to see creatively" and also one of "Digital photographers handbook" to tell me more about the post processing side of things..

I noticed a revised edition of "learning to see creatively" is due to be released in a month or so's time. Anyone know what the revisions are and whether they are worth waiting for? theres no info at amazon.. //www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0817441816/qid=1061235554/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2_2/026-1274213-7830055

I'm also interested in learning about exposure technique, but I guess that can wait till I get a camera with manual exposure controls.
08/18/2003 04:28:48 PM · #9
I absolutely love Photography. It has some sections you won't care about (developing film for example) but it's a great book overall. I've been told it's the required text for many photography classes.
08/19/2003 09:13:10 AM · #10

I'm surprised this one hasn't been mentioned, it's also by Brian Peterson "Understanding Exposure". He goes through the technical details of using exposure, aperature and film rating to get a properly exposed picture. Even though film is a part of the book, 99% of what he says applies to digital. The best thing about his work is that in every picture example he provides (there are many), there is a blurb about what exposure he used and why. Absolutely clear and easy to understand. I picked it up at my local library. I've been meaning to check out his other books as well, highly recommended.

08/19/2003 09:47:24 AM · #11
Photography by London and Upton is a standard photographic text - good intro to the basics.

Understanding Exposure by Peterson is good for the basics.
Tom Ang's Digital Photography Handbook is also good.

Moving on to the details of optics/ cameras and film, Basic Photographic Materials and Processes, Second Edition edited by Stroebel, was an enjoyable read (but I'm an engineer so be warned) (and the title doesn't mean Basic as in simple, more like fundamentals)

Learning to See Creatively by Peterson is a good source for the basics of composition and design.

Photographing the world around you and
Photography and the Art of Seeing both by Freeman Paterson are my two favourite photography technique books and neither one really mention anything about camera technical settings.

The Kodak guide to great pictures is a good, all round cheap beginners book.

The National Geographic Field Guide is also a good introduction to the art.

The library is a great place to get access to tons of photography books - well worth checking out some of the older titles by Ansel Adam's or getting access to actual photography books (rather than technique books) by Weston and many others.

Message edited by author 2003-08-19 09:48:12.
08/21/2003 01:34:42 AM · #12
Today I picked up Bill Smith's Designing a Photograph and have found it excelent IBSN 0-8174-3778-9
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