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Photography Books

Below are some of the photography related books I've read which I've found to be very useful in improving my photographic skills and/or very enjoyable.

  Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera
- by Bryan Peterson

If you've ever been confused about the relationship between aperture, shutter speed and ISO, and how to adjust them to obtain desired photographic results, then this is the book you've been looking for. What makes this book stand out from others is Peterson's simplistic approach to the subject. His style of writing makes it easy for anyone to understand what settings are needed for various situations and why they are needed. The books main focus is on aperture, shutter speed, and light. But Peterson also touches on the use of filters, types of flashes, and "special" techniques such as high dynamic range and multiple exposures. There are photos on just about every page with captions describing which settings were used and why. The book is written for beginners, but I still find myself going back to it every now and then for reference.

  The Photographer's Mind: Creative Thinking For Better Digital Photos
- by Michael Freeman

This is the follow up book to Freeman's The Photographer's Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos. I haven't read that one yet, but it's on my short list of photography books (from some of the reviews I've read for the Photographer's Mind it was stated that reading the Photographer's Eye first, although not necessary, will help the reader get a better grasp of some of the concepts presented in the Photographer's Mind). The Photographer's Mind focuses on what makes a photo great and how to achieve great results by using composition as the focal point. Freeman explains that composition is not just about framing and matching lines and geometric shapes. Instead, composition can be used as a storytelling device to invoke feeling and emotion. Along with the well written text, Freeman uses photographic examples to show how different compositions of the same scene can convey different meanings to the viewer.
  Tao of Photography: Seeing Beyond Seeing
- by Philippe L. Gross and S.I. Shapiro

This isn't a technical book on photography. Instead, using the principles of Tao, the reader is encouraged to view life and the world with a new sense of awareness, and apply that awareness to photography. As the title suggests, there is more to see than just the obvious. And seeing more leads to increased creativity. Included in the book are passages from the Taoist classical work, the Chuang-tzu. There are also quotes from some of the best photographers of our time, and over seventy photos from those photographers as well as the author.
  Ansel Adams: An Autobiography
- by Ansel Adams

Adams is one of the most well known photographers in the U.S., if not the world. Not only did he raise photography to an art form, he also helped pioneer the environemtal movement through his work. The book provides an insight into his mind as he describes some of the thought processes behind his photographic technique. Adams also describes how his interest in photography developed and some of the struggles he faced early in his life. He also recounts his friendships with some of the best artists of his time such as Georgia O'Keeffe and Edward Weston. There are 277 black and white photos which include some of his most famous works. The photos are worth the price of the book alone. Available in both hardcover and paperback, I found the former to be worth the extra money. The photos in the hardcover version look better since it's printed on a better quality paper stock.

  John Shaw's Nature Photography Field Guide
by John Shaw

Although first written in 2000 and based on film photography, most of the info provided in this book is still relevent today (June 2011). Although the book is only 160 pages and includes 185 photos, Shaw provides plenty of detailed information. He covers the basics of exposure in the first chapter, including shutterspeed, aperture, and metering. There are also chapters on equipment and lenses which include info about tripods and tripod heads, the use of filters and flash, and different types of lenses and how and when to use them. There's also a chapter dedicated to closeup photography. Here Shaw defines what a closeup actually is, discusses working distance, and how to use zoom and macro lenses for closeups. I've read several reviews for this book which state it's not for beginners. I didn't find that to be the case. As long as the reader has a basic working knowledge of cameras and photography terminology then he/she should have no problem understanding the info and concepts presented.
  The Practice of Contemplative Photography: Seeing the World with Fresh Eyes
-by Andy Karr and Michael Wood

Although labelled as a photography book, Contemplative Photography is more about perception and seeing our surroundings with a clear mind. The book focuses on "clear seeing", photographing subjects without judging them, without worrying about photographic technique, and without worrying if the shot will be good or bad. When you see clearly a photograph will reproduce your original perception of the subject. Incorporated into the text is Buddist philosophy which is used as a guide to help the reader truly see the world around us.
  Creative Lighting: Digital Photography Tips and Techniques
- by Harold Davis

One of the most important aspects of photography is lighting. Creative Lighting can be an invaluable tool to any photographer. The book describes techniques on how to effectively use both natural and artificial light. There's also a section on post processing which demonstrates different effects to enhance your photos. The text describing the various creative techniques is well complimented by the accompanying photographs which serve as excellent visual aides. The book is divided into five sections, each of which are further divided into numerous chapters, making it very easy to use for future reference.

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