Best Digital Photography Reference

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Macrimonious, Aug 14, 2009.

  1. Macrimonious macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    #1
    Hi, I'm a total newb (but not an idiot) and I'm looking for a reference that will provide a basic groundwork to digital photography.

    I'm looking at the Scott Kelby books and the "for dummies" books.

    How did you all get to be the great photogs you are?

    I know, I know, get out there and shoot and learn in the field. I plan on doing that. But I'd like a desktop reference as well.

    I appreciate your help.

    Thanks.
     
  2. iBookG4user macrumors 604

    iBookG4user

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    #2
    Check out Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson, it was a very helpful book :)
     
  3. luminosity macrumors 65816

    luminosity

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    #3
    Michael Freeman has a couple great books out there (not to be confused with John Freeman, who is another author of photography books).

    One is "The Photographer's Eye," and the other is "The Perfect Exposure," which is very new.
     
  4. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #4
    I second this recommendation. It's an excellent and interesting book for beginners.
     
  5. Acsom macrumors regular

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    Jul 10, 2009
    #5
    This is a tough call, because most reference works don't really mean anything until you understand what is going on with photography, and once you understand what is going on with photography you don't really need the reference works.

    Understanding Exposure is a must-have, IMO. It is one I keep going back to.

    The Freeman books that I have read, The Photographer's Eye and Mastering Color Digital Photography, are excellent, but in my opinion they are not very useful to a beginner. I couldn't say about his others, I haven't read them.

    I have Kelby's Digital Photography, both volumes 1 and 2. I like them; his informal style fits with mine. Lots of people don't like his style, but I do. I also prefer his books on Lightroom and Photoshop to the more scholarly works. Kelby describes his manner to be as if he were standing there advising you on how to get a particular shot. You understand how to get the results, then work it backward to understand the theory. Results oriented is good for a beginner, I think.

    Before I decided to really figure out this stuff, I got good compositional ideas from Digital Travel Photography Digital Field Guide. Better vacation photos are always good.

    Above all, I would have to say that the $100 I spent on the online course at Proud Photography was better than any $100 worth of books I've bought. (I don't get anything for saying that.) The course is untimed, you can progress as you like (I had a 3 month lapse between lessons at one point). The lessons are easy to understand and complete, and the feedback is constructive, timely and useful. Books are great, but there is nothing like having a professional look at your work and tell you what to do to make it better, telling you what you did right and what you did wrong.

    Just my .02
     
  6. John.B macrumors 601

    John.B

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    #6
    First, read Understanding Exposure as recommended. Its very light on the details, but the first read is just to get the big picture (no pun intended). Then maybe something like Exposure and Lighting to learn the mechanics of photography and some technique. My guess is that you'll learn more from that book than in a dozen Kelby "tips" books (which are also good and have their place). Then go take lots of photos (I'm talking in the thousands). Then re-read Understanding Exposure, this time to get more ideas of how you want to manipulate the exposure triangle (shutter speed/aperture/iso) to get the shots you are looking for. Then go take lots more photos.

    If you're thinking that's a lot of pictures, you'd be right. I have Apple's Aperture and Adobe's Lightroom to manage my photos (I prefer Lightroom but either is fine). So now that's the cost of the software plus another book or two* and the time investment to learn how to manage a boatload of photos and how to correct a number of problems in what they call "post production". You'll also want at least one good strobe that will work off-camera, if only for fill lighting outdoors and bounce lighting indoors. This is really a must have, IMO.

    Once you get that far... One book I really, really like is Light, Science and Magic. It's really more of a textbook than anything else, but it'll get you thinking in terms of capturing light instead of capturing a photo. If you find like that approach, you can hit the Strobist.com blog for a *lot* more ideas and examples of using common strobes to get truly professional results.

    Good luck, and remember to enjoy the journey. :cool:

    * My advice is to get at least one of the Lr books that let you download the author's "before" images so you can follow along with the author when doing PP work in Lightroom or Aperture. Kelby's Lr 2 book is a great example of this, though I'd read Nat Coalson's Lr 2 book first as its heavier on photo organization which is vital to using Lr effectively.
     
  7. Macrimonious thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    #7
    Thanks so much to everyone for taking the time and for the great advice.

    John B., I will follow your plan! Make sense to me. I've got Lightroom and photoshop so now I need the hardware.

    I got hooked into this game because I spent a month fooling around with a borrowed Nikon d90 and a 35mm prime lens.

    Now I need my own camera. My friend recommends a Canon powershot S5 IS.

    Would you say this is a good first camera? Or should I jump in with an xs or xsi. I've got 1k tops and all I hear is that the kit lens on the xs or xsi is a POS, meaning that buying a xs body and good glass would put me out of my price range...

    What do you think?

    Thanks again to all for the advice.
     
  8. luminosity macrumors 65816

    luminosity

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    #8
    Any DSLR made in the past several years is going to be better than the best point and shoot camera. A D50 or XTi would be great for your purposes, or a D40 if you don't mind losing the ability to use older Nikon lenses with autofocus (which the D90 can do).

    All you need to do is get an entry level DSLR body, slap a 35 or 50mm 1.8 lens on it and you're good to go. If you're willing to buy used (and at this point, you'd have to with a D50/XTi), you wouldn't have to spent more than $500, and probably could do it for less.
     
  9. chrono1081 macrumors 604

    chrono1081

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    #9
    Reading the FredMiranda.com forums.

    Understanding Exposure is a great book. Also Light, Science, and Magic.
     
  10. John.B macrumors 601

    John.B

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    #10
    Definitely get a dSLR, even if its not the most current model. Either the T1i or XSi would be great, except...

    Since your friend already has Nikon gear (and has shown a propensity to loaning it you :)), if you also went with a Nikon dSLR you could swap lenses, etc. as necessary. If you buy a Canon, that's not going to be an option. Don't underestimate the value of this when you are starting out and don't have a variety of lenses to work with.

    Whatever you decide to get, keep that new camera out of the "green" zone and take lots of photos. Budget time out of your busy week for the first few months. No amount of reading (books, internet, etc.) can replace valuable practice behind the viewfinder. :cool:
     
  11. Macrimonious thread starter macrumors member

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    Jul 18, 2008
    #11
    Point taken about borrowing lenses, however, I'll be on the other side of the country, staying with a friend who's a pro and only uses Canon...

    So Canon it is!

    Anyway, what the heck is the "green" zone?

    And thanks again for the tips.
     
  12. iBookG4user macrumors 604

    iBookG4user

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    #12
    That'd be automatic mode or boring mode :D
     

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