Photography and commentary by Paul Yarnall

Digital Photography… Books for Getting Started

You may be wondering what I mean, “getting started” when there have never been more cameras out there, in the hands of more people, taking more pictures, than any other time since George Eastman started Kodak early in the last century. Even cell phones can take photos now and children are using point and shoots, so how hard can it be?  I am referring to those folks who have been taking pictures with various degrees of success, but now want to create images that can be truly admired.  That means having to study and learn a few things beyond the on –  off switch and the shutter release.

There is a tremendous amount of educational material available for free on the web now, but, call me old fashioned, a good book on any subject is hard to beat. You can read it at lunch, take it to bed, it doesn’t need batteries or a power brick… books are great. I am often asked what books I would recommend for beginning photographers. It could be a very long list but for just starting out there are three that I think are a terrific value and get to the heart of making good images.

The first is The Digital Photography Book by Scott Kelby. This is a “what & how” book where each page succinctly deals with a specific photographic subject. Many of the lessons are very elementary (though essential) and yet there are tips and tricks that are useful reminders for even more seasoned shooters. Pretty inexpensive at around $15. Available from Kelby directly, as well as and even from displays at your local fast print center.

The other two books really get to the heart of making good images; setting the correct exposure for your image, and training your eye to ‘see’ an image in the visual chaos we are all flooded with every day. Interestingly, but perhaps not surprising, is that, Understanding Exposure and Learning to See Creatively are both by the same author, Bryan Peterson. Both books are easily digested and are filled cover to cover with great photographs supporting the author’s points. Even if you have been shooting for a while and think your images are pretty decent, these two will help you improve your game. Again, look to or your local bookstore for these two great references.

On the post processing side there are also (too) many to choose from, but for me it’s simple. If you are using Adobe PhotoShop (or Elements), then Tim Grey is your author. The two on my shelf are Photoshop CS3 Workflow and Color Confidence. I am also a big fan of his question and answer of the day email, DDQ. You can sign up at his website. A nugget every day.

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  1. Anonymous

    Not surprisingly, I really like your new blog. ret content and very appealing format. I do like the white on black format and the colored links are a ver nice touch. I just forwarded your info about the three books (would be my recommendations as well)to a friend who’s just getting int digital. Also an old telco friend of Ron & Larry. Your blog is about to become a shortcut on my desktop. CT

    Dec 28, 2007 @ 10:40 AM