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Thread: Top 5 books, should be read in various subdivisions of photography

  1. #1

    Top 5 books, should be read in various subdivisions of photography

    I've searched the forum and there are really some nice book advises in different places. But at this time, I would like to learn your list of top 5 books.

    There is only one criterion: If you have time for only five books for reading in different subfields of photography, which books must be read for the maximum coverage on that subject, according to you?

    There are many books about each subject in the market, but many of them are filled with repetitive information for beginners, as far as I can see. I don't want to learn advises about those beginner's books. I would like to learn the most comprehensive, selective and informative lists in the each field.

    My subdivisions are:

    1. Exposure,
    2. Lighting (flash photography, general lighting),
    3. Composition,
    4. Technolongy related subjects.

    And my list is here, not complete:

    Exposure:
    1. Michael Freeman's Perfect Exposure,
    2. Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson,
    3. Digital Exposure Handbook by Ross Hoddinott (I have not read this book, but it has so many good comments from readers in Amazon),
    4. .....
    5. .....

    Flash Photograhy:
    1. Mastering Canon EOS Flash Photography by NK Guy,
    2. Speedliter's Handbook by Sly Arena,
    3. On-Camera Flash Techniques for Digital Wedding and Portrait Photography by Neil van Niekerk,
    4. Off-Camera Flash Techniques for Digital Photographers by Neil Van Niekerk,
    5. .....

    General Lighting:
    1. Light, Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting by Fil Hunter, Paul Fuqua and Steven Biver,
    2. .....
    3. .....
    4. .....
    5. .....

    Composition:
    1. .....
    2. .....
    3. .....
    4. .....
    5. .....

    Technology related subjects:
    1. The Manual of Photography by Elizabeth Allen and Sophie Triantaphillidou,
    2. .....
    3. .....
    4. .....
    5. .....
    Last edited by Turgay; 25th February 2012 at 11:11 PM.

  2. #2
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Top 5 books, should be read in various subdivisions of photography

    I LOVE BOOKS! I am a constant reader of bookls and an indiscriminate collector of non-fiction books. However, today's digital technology is progressing so rapidly that paper books are sometimes outdated by the time they roll off the printing press.

    That said, any book by Scott Kelby is good and I do like most of the books authored by David Busch.

    OTOH... My public library has a used book secton in which they sell books no longer wanted by the library and those donated to the library. While these books are usually quite dated as far as technology goes; they are often quite good (and cheap) for the artistic side of photography.

    However, although I love books, I sincerely believe that a photographer could gain all the information needed through the Internet!

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    Re: Top 5 books, should be read in various subdivisions of photography

    I'll give a vote for 'The art of photography' by Bruce Barnbaum.

    The book is the best motivational tool I have for photography. The passion of the author for photography is very evident and infectious. There are a few chapters on finding your motivation and desire to create create images. This is the key to great photos. You must have a burning desire to create.

    It is not overly technical for digital photography. There is a chapter for this but it is not a post-processing masterclass. Most of the technical detail is information about processing and developing film black and whites. This is interesting but mostly irrelevant.

    However this is more than made up for by the brilliant photos of a master craftsman and the passion that he installs in the reader to go out and create. It does cover rules of composition and how there should not be any rules. The dissection of the rule of thirds is brilliantly dismissive of a tired and static way of seeing.

    Why I like this book so much is that it reminds me I should be out taking photos, experimenting, pushing myself to create and not trying to figure out which set of 18 steps in photoshop produces the best local contrast enhancement. If you get the capture right then you have years to go back and process the photos over and over again as you build experience.

    For a more conventional analysis of composition you can check out Michael Freeman's The photographer's eye and The photographer's mind. The first book is classic. The second is OK but seems more like an attempt to piggy back on the success of the first.

    Alex

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    Re: Top 5 books, should be read in various subdivisions of photography

    The Hot Shoe Diaries by Joe McNally; very inspiring and useful book.

    For creative inspiration a subscription to something like Silvershots or Lenswork.

  5. #5

    Re: Top 5 books, should be read in various subdivisions of photography

    Hi Richard ... I agree with you that the internet is the great source of information in our times. There are really wonderful sites ... For example, Color Vision. And, CIC of course, surely. But, I think that it is sometimes difficult to find well-ordered and comprehensive information about a subject. For this reason, I'm generally using the internet for filling in the gaps.

    Thanks Alex, I added your advises to my list. I'm especially looking forward to reading "The art of Photograhy".

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    Re: Top 5 books, should be read in various subdivisions of photography

    Thank you Hans, I've heard about the "The Hot Shoe Diaries". I will review it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Turgay View Post
    Thank you Hans, I've heard about the "The Hot Shoe Diaries". I will review it.
    For sheer inspiration, you just can't beat one of Joe's other books - The Moment it Clicks - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 26th February 2012 at 07:42 PM.

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    Re: Top 5 books, should be read in various subdivisions of photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    For shear inspiration, you just can't beat one of Joe's other books - The Moment it Clicks - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
    Now, I know you are big on sheep and wool in NZ, but do you really need inspiration to shear?

    And yes, 'The moment it clicks' has very interesting stuff in it (as does 'The hot-shoe diaries')

    Remco

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    Re: Top 5 books, should be read in various subdivisions of photography

    Lets not forget that books on Art, not photography can be a big help as wel. I have Betty Edwards book on Color and it looks at color a way I have not seen in the photography books on color that I have read. Also Color Confidence, by Tim Grey.
    And I have recently started some books by Harold Davis that I like a lot. As well as one by Steve Simon. There are many, including Freeman's books that I have read, it seems a lot of them offer something that I can take away and use.

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    Re: Top 5 books, should be read in various subdivisions of photography

    Quote Originally Posted by revi View Post
    Now, I know you are big on sheep and wool in NZ, but do you really need inspiration to shear?
    That joke was baaa baaaa baaaaaaad

  11. #11

    Re: Top 5 books, should be read in various subdivisions of photography

    Harold Davis has some good books, especially creative lighting and landscape, I think too. Thank you all.

    If you're interested in the history of photography, there is a great reference book by Routledge, Encyclopedia of Twentieth Century Photography ... it is a very expensive book, but it may be found on the internet by googling.
    Last edited by Turgay; 26th February 2012 at 08:10 PM.

  12. #12

    Re: Top 5 books, should be read in various subdivisions of photography

    Colin, I would like to ask a question to you. There are many exposure methods to use ... expose for middle tones, expose for highlights, expose to the right, underexpose a little, and may be more which I don't know. Every method has some positive and negative sides, of course. Which one do you use in general situations in your landscape images? I would like to learn your step by step work flow for landscape images, if possible?

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    Re: Top 5 books, should be read in various subdivisions of photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Turgay View Post
    Colin, I would like to ask a question to you. There are many exposure methods to use ... expose for middle tones, expose for highlights, expose to the right, underexpose a little, and may be more which I don't know. Every method has some positive and negative sides, of course. Which one do you use in general situations in your landscape images? I would like to learn your step by step work flow for landscape images, if possible?
    Hi Turgay,

    - Generally exposure is dictated by the dynamic range of the scene. If we have a low dynamic range scene - say - a photo of a painting, where the dynamic dange is only going to be around 4 stops - then I'll expose things correctly (eg midtones in the middle of the histogram, whites 2 stops over, blacks (not shadows) 2 stops under).

    - If it's a high dynamic range scene like a sunset (talking scene here, not HDR photography) then the highlights dictate the exposure - so you push them as close to the clipping point of the sensor as you dare (I use the highlight alert feature on the camera - even though it's based on a JPEG it gives a good indication because it also gives a nice safety margin that keeps me away from the sensors non-linear response region and thus avoids weird colour shifts).

    - If it's a high dynamic range scene like a night scene, you may as well just expose for the midtones because the highlights are going to blow anyway - and it's better to have blown highlights in a night scene (eg point light sources) than it is to try and protect them and end up with no midtones and a truckload of noise.

    Sorry if this sounds technical (it is!) - basically, forget ETTR unless you're shooting a day scene with a high dynamic range. Use the highlight alert to watch for over-exposure, and the histogram to watch for under-exposure.

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    Re: Top 5 books, should be read in various subdivisions of photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Turgay,

    - If it's a high dynamic range scene like a sunset (talking scene here, not HDR photography) then the highlights dictate the exposure - so you push them as close to the clipping point of the sensor as you dare (I use the highlight alert feature on the camera - even though it's based on a JPEG it gives a good indication because it also gives a nice safety margin that keeps me away from the sensors non-linear response region and thus avoids weird colour shifts).
    Colin
    Would you mind going into a little more detail about this? Maybe some links to further reading? I don't know if you want to do it in the OPs thread, maybe open another thread...this is very interesting stuff.

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    Re: Top 5 books, should be read in various subdivisions of photography

    Colin, with your help, I'm always learning so many new things. Thank you so much.

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    Re: Top 5 books, should be read in various subdivisions of photography

    Quote Originally Posted by PBelarge View Post
    Colin
    Would you mind going into a little more detail about this? Maybe some links to further reading? I don't know if you want to do it in the OPs thread, maybe open another thread...this is very interesting stuff.
    Hi Pierre,

    Common thought is that camera sensors have a linear response curve - but that's only true to a point. Close to the point of saturation there's a bit of a curve. Normally it's not a problem because we're not normally operating in this region - but if one is pushing the exposures by ETTR then it's possible to get into this region. The problem is that one channel is probably going to hit it before the others - thus giving different colour information for the pixels recorded in this region.

    Normally we can correct colour casts using a grey card, but these shift a colour bias across the whole channel by the same amount; if some of the data is coming from a non-linear part of the response curve then it needs a different correction - but we can't give it one because white balancing is a "one size fits all". So (a) you get a weird colour shift and (b) you can't easily null it out. This is why - as a general rule - I think ETTR is flirting with danger. If you have a high dynamic range scene (eg shooting into a sunset - without GND filters or other HDR techniques - and still want to retain foreground detail) then there's little choice - one pretty much HAS to ETTR - but for a normal dynamic range scene (perhaps where the dynamic range is 6 or 7 stops) then the risks of ETTR outweigh the advantages in my opinion (technically ETTR captures more information -- but often it's information that we just don't need in the real world).

    Does that help?

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    Re: Top 5 books, should be read in various subdivisions of photography

    Thanks Colin
    I have some understanding of ETTR.
    For an image where the DR is not excessive, how do you feel about exposing maybe 1/3-1/2 of a stop to the right? Not bringing the right side of the histogram completely to the clipping point, but closer than a normal exposure may bring it to the right side?

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    Re: Top 5 books, should be read in various subdivisions of photography

    Quote Originally Posted by PBelarge View Post
    Thanks Colin
    I have some understanding of ETTR.
    For an image where the DR is not excessive, how do you feel about exposing maybe 1/3-1/2 of a stop to the right? Not bringing the right side of the histogram completely to the clipping point, but closer than a normal exposure may bring it to the right side?
    Hi Pierre,

    You can if you want -- but in my mind that's a bit like digging a hole and then filling it back in again. I really don't get the point of moving something 1/3 to 1/2 one way in the camera, and then moving it back the other way on the computer.

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    Re: Top 5 books, should be read in various subdivisions of photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Pierre,

    You can if you want -- but in my mind that's a bit like digging a hole and then filling it back in again. I really don't get the point of moving something 1/3 to 1/2 one way in the camera, and then moving it back the other way on the computer.
    It is my understanding that one can expose to the right and capture more info. Then in processing lower the exposure in the shadows so as to bring it where one wanted it, but with less artifacts/noise.

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    Re: Top 5 books, should be read in various subdivisions of photography

    Quote Originally Posted by PBelarge View Post
    It is my understanding that one can expose to the right and capture more info. Then in processing lower the exposure in the shadows so as to bring it where one wanted it, but with less artifacts/noise.
    Hi Pierre,

    Yep -- that what a lot of people say - it's a good theory. Then again - IN THEORY, the oceans of the world all rise a small amout every time I throw in a stone. And that's the problem; the theory and practice don't always align.

    If it's a scene that needs every ounce of [clean] data wrung out of the sensor then ETTR is something that one needs to do ... the only catch is that most of the time the camera is more than capable of capturing all that we need - and more - whilst still operating in the clean areas of the sensor's range. The average sensor captures around 12 stops - and the average reflective scene probably only needs 6 at best - add on a couple more that are wasted due to under-exposure (safety margin) and we're still only using 8 of the 12 (and that's being generous considering nobody will be able to see shadow noise that low even after compression).

    To be honest, I used to think along the same lines - and shoot that way - but then I discovered that although it's easy to bump up the exposure a couple of stops - but it's NOT so easy to get all the tones back to where they should be in post-processing; I could often get the midtones close, but not close enough - and the non-linearity at the top of the curve can be an issue too.

    There are a lot of theories when it comes to Photography - in THEORY ETTR captures more information - in THEORY using a UV filter degrades image quality - in THEORY you get more noise with high-ISO shots - in theory in theory in theory ... but in practice (or "in the real world" as I like to say) many of these things just aren't an issue. In the real world we don't just photograph test-targets in laboratories Or as Jay Maisel says "too many people try to save the pixels -- and in the process ruin the photo".

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