Photo book for a beginner?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by timmyb, Oct 21, 2008.

  1. timmyb macrumors 6502

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    #1
    I'm planning to get a Nikon D40 this weekend - it'll be my first DSLR. I've never used one before and don't have any particular knowledge of photography, but want to move up from point & shoot and am really excited about what a 'proper' camera will let me do. I've got plenty of time to really get drawn in to it.

    Should my approach be to simply "learn by doing" or would it be more helpful to learn with the guidance of a book? (More than just the user manual.)

    If a book is a good idea, would it be better to go for a specific one like this (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nikon-D40x-...=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1224628230&sr=8-1) or a more general one?

    Thanks
     
  2. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #2
    Do both. You need to shoot a lot. Go outside of your comfort zone and make up some hard asignents and shoot 100 frames then edit down to the best 4 to 6. You will learn a lot looking at your work and deciding which 95% of it to toss out.
    Repeat the above 10 or 20 times (that means 1,000 to 2,000 exposures)

    Get two books. One on the mechanics of exposures and lenses and how f-tops work and one "picture book" Get some big books with photos and see what kinds of images you like. Try and copy the style.



    You want to learn the general concepts and the "why" part. The Nikon user manual is good enough to explain the how it works part.
     
  3. timmyb thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #3
    Any recommended titles?
     
  4. FrankieTDouglas macrumors 65816

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    #4
    Some assignments to give yourself...

    Photograph the alphabet. Walk around and see if you can find an A in nature, either organic or man made. You may have to position your camera a certain way to get it or work with your zoom to make it happen. Then look for B, and so on. You'll learn your camera in addition to sharpening your eye.

    Walk around and only photograph the color blue (or green, yellow, red, etc). Every frame has to have that color in it.

    Go around and only photograph triangles. Or squares.

    Mix and match. Photos have to have blue AND yellow in them. Or green AND squares.

    Limit yourself to doing this within a block, or just your property, or etc.

    This will all help you to learn your camera and better your photo skills.

    These are assignments Vincent Versace gives his workshop students. He wrote a good book on photography, too.
     
  5. timmyb thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #5
    Really like the idea of setting "assignments", can't wait to get the camera to start! The Versace book mentioned looks good but I think it might be too advanced to begin with for my first DSLR, (and I don't have photoshop in any case.)

    Does anyone have a book they'd recommend? A photography 101 type.

    Thanks
     
  6. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #6
    I still like the series of three books (Camers, Negative, Print) by Ansel Adams but they do date form the 50's and today's readers don't want to have to learn about technical issues that are handled by automation today. But all the theory is still the same even if he changed a gama value chemically while we'd use Photoshop. The reason of why you'd change it remains the same. But I'd recommend his works only for someone who is more advanced and interested in history.

    Today, any of the "for dummies" titles and any intro book that is short is fine. The technical aspects are simple. When choosing between tow books pik the one that covers the topic with the least words

    In one of his books Ansel claims the ANYTHING can be the subject of a photo. To prove his point he gives the example of some string he dropped on some white paper. He made the image in the 1930's I think and a copy of it today would sell for about $10K. I've seen a handmade silver gelatin print of this that he made. I never liked the reproduction in the books but the real thing does prove his point. You really can make fine art quality work with just household junk.

    After reading this I took a trip down the street to a thrift store and bought a box full of 25 cent glassware and spent the whole weekend shooting light refracted by this glass making about 100 arrangements. I then donated the junk back to the same thift store. (But no one seems to want to give me $10K per print.)

    Edward Weston, one of the best photographers of his time, I think spend time laying on his back photographing the under side of a toilet in a men's room on Mexico. Proof again that you don't need exotic locations or subjects
     
  7. PeteB macrumors 6502a

    PeteB

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    #7
    A real good beginner book is "Understanding Exosure" by Bryan Peterson. It's clear, straightforward, and it'll give you the basics of understanding photography.
     
  8. timmyb thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #8
    Seems exactly what I'm looking for. Thanks.
     
  9. timmyb thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #9
    I've bought and read the Peterson book, now I'm looking for a book to teach me about the 'rules' of photographic composition. I've heard plenty of mentions of the rule of thirds, (and almost as much disagreeing with it!) so want to learn about that and more - then I can decide to reject it if I want! Any titles people would recommend for this?
     
  10. PeteB macrumors 6502a

    PeteB

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    #10
    Bryan Peterson

    "Learning to See Creatively"

    When you know the how of photography, this book describes what to shoot and why.

    It's a great grounding in the fundamentals of composition and what "works" in a good photo.
     
  11. mattw126 macrumors member

    mattw126

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    #11
    I hope your education in photography is going well! Depending on what you enjoy shooting, you might consider approaching a professional (in person) in that field. Tell them you'll happily assist and give your time in exchange for gleaning knowledge from them you might not be able to ever find in a book.

    Also, I would seriously consider purchasing CS4, for post production.
     
  12. nospleen macrumors 68000

    nospleen

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    #12
    I completely agree, this book is a must have...
     
  13. TomM macrumors newbie

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    #13
    Exposure Photo Workshop

    Another good book I found is Exposure Photo Workshop by
    Jeff Wignall. This book is camera generic. It is about using digital SLR cameras. It gives very clear explanations and photo assignments at
    the end of each chapter where you can use the material covered.

    For example, one area which wasn't clear to me was how to use
    the different types of metering the cameras provide -- when should
    you use spot metering as opposed to matrix metering or center weighted
    metering. Jeff gives very clear explanations and examples of
    using these different types.

    The Photo Workshop book series also has a book on composition with
    a similar format as the book on exposure. It's by a different author,
    but you may want to check it out also.



    Have fun with your camera.

    TomM
     
  14. PeteB macrumors 6502a

    PeteB

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    #14
    Guys, the OP has a basic grip on the basics of photography and now wants to move onto compositional skills. Make suggestions with that in mind, please.
     
  15. Kamera RAWr macrumors 65816

    Kamera RAWr

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    #15
    Also his new book "Understanding Shutter Speed" looks pretty good too :)
     
  16. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #16
    Understanding Exposure is a very nice book for copying looks. Unlike other books that start with a technical explanation, it shows lots of pictures and explains how you get the look of the example pictures (e. g. freezing motion or getting a motion blur).

    The first and most important thing you should do: never put your camera in Auto and avoid putting it in P. Use A or S instead (aperture and shutter speed priority). On Nikons, you have to activate the flash by hand, too (it will pop up automatically if you're in Auto, though).
     
  17. timmyb thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #17
    Thanks. Have ordered so it's on its way. Since I found his other book so good there seems little point switching!

    I agree it's a superb book, very easy to read and he uses some great analogies to explain aperture/ISO/shutter speed etc. Before I was shooting a mix of S and no-flash auto, (I didn't understand aperture and never like using a flash,) but having read it I'm now happily shooting in M.
     
  18. mrgreen4242 macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

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    #18
    The D40 Field Guide is a great resource, imo. Get it and use it to help you figure out how to do something as you are out in the work practicing. There's some good internet resources, I thought that the website "Stop Shooting Auto" is particularly helpful. You can Google it to get the URL, I don't have it handy here at work.

    Finally, I would really recommend participating in the weekly photo challenges here on MR. I've learned more looking at the other submissions and having my submissions reviewed a few times than I care to admit. Having a specific, but generally quite broad, topic to work in makes to you think about what you are doing and is really fun. Then seeing all the other submissions gives you an idea what other people made of it.
     
  19. pokari macrumors newbie

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    #19
  20. PeteB macrumors 6502a

    PeteB

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    #20
    Another good one is "The Moment It Clicks" by Joe McNally. It's more of a showcase than a how-to, but the commentary he provides gives a great insight into how and why he approached each shot. There's also some good tips on lighting techniques there.

    For other compositional guidelines, it's worth buying books according to your subject matter and working out for yourself how they work and take inspiration from them.

    A couple of examples I've used is Joe Cornish (landscape photographer) and the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year
     
  21. mattw126 macrumors member

    mattw126

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    #21
    When you do move into the realm of post production, it's worth checking out his on-line training site. I consider $20 a month $ well spent. I used to spend more in a week on cigarettes when I smoked.:rolleyes:
     
  22. Regis27 macrumors member

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    #22
    +1
    One of the best to start with. Clear and doesn't overwhelm.
     
  23. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #23
    What you are looking for now is just "composition". not "photographic composition" as these rules apply to painting as well. Public libraries tend to be filled with some very old books. But it's Ok because this stuff has not changed in centuries.

    Publishers like to publish topical titles like "How to capture color with your digital camera" but it's silly. the best thing is to just go look at images and see what you like then go and try and replicate the style. Make up a project.

    OK now that you have a well defined goal and something to do. You will almost certainly run into a problem or two. then go back and read or ask questions. You learn by solving problems.
     
  24. GezDaFez macrumors newbie

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    #24
    I started getting back into digital photography about 6 months ago. The two books I got (and would highly recommend) are understanding exposure, as previously recommended, and The Photographer's Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos by Michael Freeman. This sounds exactly like what you are looking for.

    It doesnt necessarily focus on the camera (the first book should do that for you) but rather what the final result can look like, and what you can do with the final shot.

    Lots of pictures, not overly technical. the two books compliment each other very will, IMO.

    Have fun.
     
  25. NStocks macrumors 65816

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    #25
    Definetley. I got my first DSLR about 16 months ago, and I didn't really learn about all the different Terms ( ISO, Aperture shutte speed etc. ) but this book really helped me. I got it from amazon.

    When you find the type of Photography you really enjoy ( Macro for Me ), it might be a good idea to nvest in a specific book to the subject, that way you get better at the particular type of photography, rather than the ' general' Photography.

    You will soon now everything about Photography.

    NStocks
     

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