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View Full Version : HELP! Good book reccomendations?


RobEW
3rd March 2017, 07:56 AM
Hello all. I hope it's appropriate to post this question here.

I'm relatively new to photography as a hobby (as distinct from casual point and click), and am enjoying it a lot so far, appreciating the way it makes me see the visual word differently and wanting increasingly to work at composing and creating (and possibly sharing) images which capture aspects of it. Learning can of course be a lifelong journey, and formal learning from experts can be quicker than learning purely from one's own mistakes. I attended a 1 day course on the basics (Jessops "Level 2") which is good but a rather expensive way to learn. I've been reading quite a bit online, as well as learning from my own mistakes of course. And learning about my equipment. But I also like learning from books.

So - what books might you recommend to teach a variety of topics at a basic or not quite basic level? I know almost nothing about post processing, so a book which included that would be good, but I'm also interested in composition, natural and artificial lighting, perhaps more than the basics on exposure, focus, DoF etc.

Anyone like to recommend their top book choices? :-)

RobEW
3rd March 2017, 08:09 AM
From browsing online lists of recommendations and browsing in Waterstones, I'm attracted to:

Complete Guide to Digital Photography - Ian Farrell
as a general book, and more specialised areas:

Understanding exposure - Bryan Peterson
The photographer's eye - Michael Freeman

Tom Ang seems to be prolific and popular too ...

timboo
3rd March 2017, 08:15 AM
Hi I generally buy magazines from Whsmith. In particular Photomasterclass and the Photographers guide to Photoshop and Lightroom.
The two versions I bought, cover subjects such as RAW in photoshop and mainly post processing with real life examples from start to finish of processing.
From landscapes to animals and portraits, also special effects, it covers all. I find them very informative as they are laid out showing step by step images and are an easy reference tool cost between 9.99 and 15. I dont buy lots of editions but wait until the right one crops up on the shelf. It has improved my processing no end.
There are of course post processing courses too however for my needs I feel the magazines are the better approach for me as I dont process every day and it is sometimes easy to forget things in light of this.

Tim

Harold Gough
3rd March 2017, 08:29 AM
You will get only so far unless you can set your camera as you want it to be in its various modes. At the very least, you need a copy of the manual. For Olympus models, available as a download from the Olympus website.

David Bush has written some excellent books on how to use am particular camera. There are other authors.

Harold

Harold Gough
3rd March 2017, 08:43 AM
I recommend always to shoot RAW files, RAW + JPEG if you prefer. Then process in RAW and resize and convert to JPEG for use. Do not save the changes to your RAW files.

The Rule of Thirds is a good default for composition.

The biggest threat to framing and sharp images is the pressure of your finger on the shutter release button, especially if you stab at it.

Be wary of White Balance changing e.g if you are shooting in sunlight with clouds occasionally blocking the sun.

Harold

Walti
3rd March 2017, 08:52 AM
The Cambridge in Colour website is a very good learning resource too, along with some tools to calculate odd and ends...

http://www.cambridgeincolour.com

RobEW
3rd March 2017, 09:20 AM
You will get only so far unless you can set your camera as you want it to be in its various modes. At the very least, you need a copy of the manual. For Olympus models, available as a download from the Olympus website.

David Bush has written some excellent books on how to use am particular camera. There are other authors.

Harold

Good point. I've obtained and read https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/cka/Mastering-Olympus-Om-d-E-M5-Mark-Darrell-Young/1937538737 (though my eyes did glaze over in one or two places of seemingly unnecessary complexity in the menus). I found the Olympus manual almost unreadable.

pdk42
3rd March 2017, 10:12 AM
There's a free on line magazine called f11 that I like:

http://www.f11magazine.com

Outdoor Photography and Black and White Photography classic magazines are also very good (both published by GMC Magazines).

Ricoh
3rd March 2017, 01:07 PM
Photography is more about personal vision than it is about technology and cameras. Of course you need an imaging system, but set it to P mode and let it look after itself whilst you set about looking for interesting scenery that does something for you. Basically if you have no emotional connection with the scene, the resulting photograph will show this and it will be boring for the viewer. Photography is about light, and flat light (the stuff we get 99% of the time in the UK) tends to be boring. The eye is drawn to contrast and light and shade can make a boring photograph look interesting. When it comes to rules, eg rule of thirds etc, forget them, there is only one rule with regard to composition which is: there are no rules. The frame is your canvass, do with it as you please. Shoot to please yourself and not for anyone else. Don't get caught up in social media composing and posting images to get the maximum followers and likes.
In time you can then start playing with the other settings on that dreadful SPAM (PASM) dial, but A mode is probably your friend 90% of the time, and S mode maybe 8%, and forget M unless you're feeling desperate.
I should have mentioned this first, but a good start to photography is to carry a card with you with a cut out in the right proportions, eg 4:3 or 3:2, and hold it in front of you to frame and develop your way of seeing. But the scene must stimulate you in some way, otherwise it will be boring when you use a camera.
Finally, do not fall into the trap of purchasing more kit it the belief it will make you a better photographer. It won't, in fact it will lead to confusion, and paralysis by analysis. I'd recommend shooting with one camera and one lens for a year. In terms of full frame, the best all round focal length is 35mm (in my opinion) which equates roughly to 17mm on u4/3.

RobEW
3rd March 2017, 02:29 PM
Photography is more about personal vision than it is about technology and cameras. Of course you need an imaging system, but set it to P mode and let it look after itself whilst you set about looking for interesting scenery that does something for you. Basically if you have no emotional connection with the scene, the resulting photograph will show this and it will be boring for the viewer. Photography is about light, and flat light (the stuff we get 99% of the time in the UK) tends to be boring. The eye is drawn to contrast and light and shade can make a boring photograph look interesting. When it comes to rules, eg rule of thirds etc, forget them, there is only one rule with regard to composition which is: there are no rules. The frame is your canvass, do with it as you please. Shoot to please yourself and not for anyone else. Don't get caught up in social media composing and posting images to get the maximum followers and likes.
In time you can then start playing with the other settings on that dreadful SPAM (PASM) dial, but A mode is probably your friend 90% of the time, and S mode maybe 8%, and forget M unless you're feeling desperate.
I should have mentioned this first, but a good start to photography is to carry a card with you with a cut out in the right proportions, eg 4:3 or 3:2, and hold it in front of you to frame and develop your way of seeing. But the scene must stimulate you in some way, otherwise it will be boring when you use a camera.
Finally, do not fall into the trap of purchasing more kit it the belief it will make you a better photographer. It won't, in fact it will lead to confusion, and paralysis by analysis. I'd recommend shooting with one camera and one lens for a year. In terms of full frame, the best all round focal length is 35mm (in my opinion) which equates roughly to 17mm on u4/3.


Thanks. I totally agree that it's about seeing differently first, and then trying to capture that. I'm finding, now I do have some kit and a feedback loop (even if I'm the only one who sees it, it's still a loop from lived experience in a 3D world to viewed 2D image) I am seeing differently and composing and enjoying, as well as learning.

Also agree about kit (though I've probably already over-indulged - partly through an unexpected opportunity). and I agree about not trying out every single bell and whistle on my magic machine. there are far too many, But I do like some of the ones which are new to me. HDR can improve a shot wonderfully, and stabilisation is good enough for hand-held HDR in good light (& static subject - e.g. architecture).

Guess I'm not a total beginner to seeing and composing - used to have an old 35mm film SLR, and have been snapping on phones etc since.

The card with a 4x3 hole in it is a nice idea - though I might feel I look a bit stupid.

I'm still interested in a book though ...

Jim Ford
3rd March 2017, 02:31 PM
Photography is about light, and flat light (the stuff we get 99% of the time in the UK) tends to be boring.

I've seen it stated that 'A photograph taken on a dull day will be a dull photograph'. It's pretty well true for 90% of photo's.

Jim

Ricoh
3rd March 2017, 04:24 PM
Rob, if you want vision+brain training and not tuition around the complexity of modern cameras, I would recommend the following:
Achieving Photographic Style by Michael Freeman (out of print, published in 1988, I got my copy from Amazon for 2.50, and noticed there are quite a few going for 0.01 upwards)
and
The Art of Photography by Bruce Barnbaum (ISBN 978-1-1933952-68-0)
As widely accepted, photography is all about vision and much less about the tool you use. In fact it should be compulsory for everyone to learn with an analogue camera, fully manual, the lot. Black and white is a good training ground I believe, as it allows you to concentrate on illumenance without the distraction of colour. In fact with colour it is more difficult to achieve a pleasant meaningful image and demands a comprehensive knowledge of colour theory to get it right - unless you and your audience like looking at a multi coloured kaleidoscope.

Crazy Dave
3rd March 2017, 04:41 PM
From browsing online lists of recommendations and browsing in Waterstones, I'm attracted to:

Complete Guide to Digital Photography - Ian Farrell
as a general book, and more specialised areas:

Understanding exposure - Bryan Peterson
The photographer's eye - Michael Freeman

Tom Ang seems to be prolific and popular too ...

I bought Paterson's book on Understanding Exposure some years ago. Despite the favourable reviews, it was probably the worst book on photography technique I have ever encountered. A book for digital users that contained not one reference to the histogram, plus a writing style that is cringeworthy. Maybe he has got his act together with more recent versions but once bitten...........

Good luck with your photography.

David

Ricoh
3rd March 2017, 05:34 PM
Michael Freenan does a better job with the 'Perfect Exposure' ISBN 978-1-905814-46-6 17.99

Ivor
5th March 2017, 08:32 PM
I agree with the recommendations of Michael Freeman books. My very first copy of one of his books was the 35mm Handbook many, many years ago and it still has a lot of relevant stuff in it. I find his style of writing very accessible and, as already mentioned, The Photographer's Eye is an excellent book. I picked up a copy from a charity shop for a couple of quid! Also, his Mastering Digital Photography, ISBN 978-1-907579-00-4, is full of good stuff for intermediate and advanced photographers.


I have a big library of photography books that I have collected in this way that I lend to my students. Most general skills books have much the same information in them.

I wonder why Tom Ang seems to be the most prolific author to end up in second hand book shops. I have a few in my library, but I don't find them quite as enjoyable to read as Michael Freeman's but they are okay. How to Photograph Absolutely Everything does what it says on the cover and Digital Photography Masterclass is quite in-depth.

Practical Photography is a good and hugely popular general skills magazine, it has incorporated Digital Photo Magazine into it which had always had super Photoshop/Lightroom/Elements tutorials built into it. http://www.practicalphotography.com/

I too get Black and White Photography. It's an interesting read but not necessarily a source of tutorials. I love looking at Photo books, seeing what I like and trying to work out how to achieve a similar effect and there is plenty to like in that magazine (if you like Black and White.)

I also browse through Flickr and (not publicly) critique the images.

Crazy Dave
5th March 2017, 10:16 PM
Then there's the historical and much more interesting stuff than how to. I like 'The Ongoing Moment' by Geoff Dyer and 'Inside the Photograph' by Peter Bunnell.

David

RobEW
19th March 2017, 06:31 PM
A post script to this thread. Checking out Abebooks, Amazon etc, it seems that there's a prolific author called John Freeman who has published some works with confusingly similar titles to Michael Freeman. I get the impression both are good authors in their ways ...

Ivor
22nd March 2017, 11:41 AM
Not books, but there have just been some excellent tv programmes on BBC4 on photography. Still available on iPlayer.

This is the Photography Season page (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04vb8y1)

The Britain In Focus: A Photographic History (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08h95jk) with Eamonn McCabe was especially good, as was the On Camera: Photographers at the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08jgr3w)

Plenty to inspire there.

Ivor

Petrochemist
22nd March 2017, 12:17 PM
If you don't mind e-books there are hundreds on Archive.org (https://archive.org/search.php?query=photography&and[]=mediatype%3A%22texts%22&and[]=collection%3A"folkscanomy")Quite a few recent ones among them...
(Link only includes those in 'Folkscanomy: A Library of Books' with 'photography' in the title, related searches will find 1000s more including less relevant NASA reports...)