Photography Books, Blogs, Websites, and Magazines
I haven’t been out shooting in the last week or so, but am about to go on holiday with the family to the west of Scotland for a week, so hopefully we’ll all have a lovely time and the weather will be kind and allow one or two photographs. I have just bought my three-year-old son his first camera, a lovely-looking bright yellow waterproof Nikon Coolpix S31, which he is very excited about!
Tel Père Tel Fils
Meanwhile, I’ve been doing a fair amount of reading about photography (landscape in particular), and I thought I’d share some of my reading matter.
No better place to start than with Ansel Adams!
I was fortunate to have the time to visit the exhibition of Ansel Adams photographs at the Greenwich Maritime Museum in London back in January. This was also an opportunity to see the work of another acknowledged master of landscapes of an altogether different kind, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, at the Northern Renaissance: Dürer to Holbein exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace – no better painter of snow ever!
I have a couple of Ansel Adams photograph collections: 400 Photographs and Ansel Adams in Colour. You can learn masses about use of light and composition by leafing through these books occasionally. What surprised me from both the books and the exhibition was the range of his photography – not just the epic landscapes. Attention to detail shines out in all his work, but he has some stunning ‘macro’ as well as abstract shots, which seem to me to be very much ahead of their time.
Photography Technique Books
I also have a number of relatively basic books on photographic technique; some of them are now a bit past-it, but all offer some nuggets of insight. I have to say that I learn more these days from reading and studying image-galleries and discussions on the internet than from reading these kinds of books (http://www.naturescapes.net is the best general resource for this kind of thing that I know of).
John Shaw, Close-ups in Nature: a classic of the genre, still probably the best book on macro photography that I know of despite being written in the film era. Lots of super and subtle images to inspire. Given how hard I know it is to be this technically accomplished with digital macro, the fact that this book was written in 1987 is mind-boggling.
Carl Heilman II, Advanced Digital Landscape Photography: a pretty comprehensive primer, though as before prolonged study of internet forums will probably provide more assistance these days.
Michael Frye, Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters: lots more useful insights here into such things as luminosity and lighting; some useful stuff on post-processing.
Two books by Bryan Peterson: Understanding Exposure and Understanding Close-Up Photography. Engaging but idiosyncratic; useful for beginners, though the photographs illustrated I find rather gimmicky and oversaturated.
On landscape photography, all of these books are a little behind the times of the latest high-resolution camera technology (e.g. the advice about using small apertures and zoom lenses is often a little pointless when it comes to photographing with a 36Mpx D800E FX as opposed to a 12Mpx D300 DX). Again, this is where the internet really comes into its own.
Finally, a special mention should go to Michael Freeman’s The Photographer’s Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digitial Photos, which is a fantastic book helping one to appreciate and improve photographic composition. Full of fascinating insights.
By far the best ebook I possess on photography is by Alistair Ben: Seeing the Unseen. How to Photograph Landscapes at Night. It’s available for a small fee from availablelightimages.com. For attention to detail and know-how this knocks all the magazine articles I’ve ever read on low-light landscape photography into a cocked hat.
I also have a couple of others:
I’ve recently purchased Bill Lockhart’s Scotland: A Photographer’s Guide. Bill is from Florida, I’m English, and my wife is Scottish, so some of the introductory material is quirkily amusing; however, the detail about locations and technique is very good and worthwhile.
For anyone interested in bird photography techniques, I can also strongly recommend E. J. Peiker’s Ducks of North America: A Photographer’s Guide. Do not be deterred by the title if you are not interested in ducks, or in North America!
By far the best UK photography magazine for me is Outdoor Photographer. I also occasionally read Amateur Photographer and British Journal of Photography.
For outdoor hiking and camping gear I also read Trail and The Great Outdoors from time to time.
blog.mingthein.com: always an interesting read, on macro, architectural, and travel- and street-photography from a Malaysia-based pro.
benhorne.wordpress.com: an occasional blog on adventures with large-format photography. The effort and dedication required when maybe shooting on average only one or two shots a day is a genuine eye-opener. The videos and images are fabulous and great fun.