6 Books You Absolutely Need if you are starting out in Digital Photography

You have just made the big jump from a point-and-shoot which did everything for you. You have suddenly realised your passion for photography, your ability to express yourself using a camera. You’ve upgraded your computer, bought a digital SLR kit, some processing software which a friend recommended, and perhaps have joined the cameraclub (great idea!).

And you realise you have just begun a long journey up a very high mountain…there is so much to learn…

Here are six friends to help you, six books I rate highly indeed. I do believe every beginning photographer/artist should have these on their bookshelf…

The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book for Digital Photographers

The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book for Digital PhotographersIf you’ve just bought Adobe Lightroom 3, to my mind the most flexible and versatile piece of processing software out there for any photographer (I use it all the time myself),then the interface will probably drive you bananas. There is help at hand. Scott Kelby has made a vast fortune out of helping people like us. This is a great Get-You-Going book. In fact, to my mind, it is the pick of the bunch. Kelby has a wonderfully conversational approach, which is down-to-earth, and just plain useful! His no-nonsense approach means that you will be operational in no time. Take your time, listen to him, and follow the lessons. This is an absolute must-buy.

Understanding Exposure

How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera

Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera

I worry a lot about any book which which either sells itself as ” The Complete Guide to” or which promises you nirvana in a book. It just doesn’t happen. But this one comes really close…trust me, you are going to work with exposure for the rest of your photographic career. Just when you thought you have it all sorted, some new understanding will come along. I’ve been working with exposure to over 30 years, and I am still learning new stuff. Isn’t it wonderful? When I started out, there were no workshops or people to help me, so I had to figure it out for myself. Damn, I wish I had a book like this way back then. I would have got over the hump a lot sooner…

10/10 (would I lie to you?)

Photographic Composition

Photographic Composition

From time to time I go through my book collection (600 and climbing), and have a major chuck-out. Buying that book was a great idea at the time…

Every time I think about giving this one the biff, I change my mind. I’ve had it for over 20 years, and it is still as fresh today as it ever was. Composition is one of those things with which we struggle at the beginning of our photographic career (and a whole lot later)… In fact, composition and design are two things which we will never stop learning. If you think you have it sorted, then it’s time to take up golf. Composition and design are the key and core of developing photographic style. This book should be on everyone‘s shelf!

10/10 (pluck my copy from my cold dead fingers!)

Photography and the Art of Seeing

A Visual Perception Workshop for Film and Digital Photography

Photography and the Art of Seeing: A Visual Perception Workshop for Film and Digital PhotographyA long time ago (when the Earth was green),I read this book, by some Canadian whom I had never heard of. I thought I had it sorted, but after reading this, I realised I had learned more in one book than I could ever have possibly imagined. I thought to myself: who the hell is Freeman Patterson? Little did I realise that I would spend the next 11 years teaching with him and learning from him. Put bluntly: Freeman is the guru of composition and design. I have taught with him in New Zealand and South Africa, and even though I haven’t seen him for a couple of years, I’m still learning from him. He’s that good…

So what’s stopping you from joining those who know?

Recommended. 200/10 (and no, Freeman is not paying me a royalty!)

Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 Classroom in a Book

Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 Classroom in a Book

Sooner or later, somebody is going get inside your head, and tell you that you absolutely need PhotoShop. Well you don’t.You will look at the website, or drop into your local shop, and find out how much full-version PhotoShop costs. When you get up off the floor, or you discuss it with your (domestic) management, you will realise that you’ve come to a very dark and dangerous place (for your wallet).

PhotoShop Elements has got so damn good that you probably don’t need anything else. What is more, all the software plug-in manufacturers who dance to Adobe’s tune, are so busy manufacturing their plug-ins to work with Elements, that there seems no real reason to spend all that extra money on the 800lb  gorilla! Getting inside its head is, of course, the problem. Adobe do a wonderful job of their Classroom in a Book series. It will teach you everything you need to know without driving you demented. You will learn at a wonderful pace, while mastering essential skills. What’s not to like?

And your fiscal manager will love the difference in price between the gorilla and this…



The DAM BookIt is easy to lose track of your digital images. The fact that it doesn’t cost you anything to shoot pictures will mean your library builds up really quickly! and if you use basic image browsers (I DO NOT RECOMMEND Picasa) you may soon wonder where they all are. This book will help you to establish and maintain a workflow which will avoid that and make it easy to keep track of your files.

I have it on my bookshelf and it helped me get things sorted early on. Now I can ( usually) find any of the nearly 300 000 images in my computer.


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