The Digital Photography Books 1,2 & 3 by Scott Kelby
I picked up the first one of these books after seeing them raved about on all the photography forums I was hanging out on and looking for recommendations for books for beginners. Amazingly the best bookstore in town had the first one in stock and it was $35 NZ (which is pretty cheap for a reference book here). So I picked up a copy and quickly understood why these books are raved about :)
First Impression – book is an unusual size and shape but is ideal to fit into a largish jacket pocket or into a camera bag. Quality of the cover substrate feels a bit cheap, mine was looking quite worn after only a few reads. Nicely laid out print with lots of white space, and more importantly, demonstrative pictures!
Im going to review all 3 together because essentially they are one book in 3 parts, each one builds on the previous one (if you have it) but is still a useful reference as an individual book.
The best thing about these books is exactly what the author sets out to do, and describes his idea of their function in the intro of Chapter 1 – “you have lots of questions, and I’m going to answer them here in the book just like I would in real life”. And surprisingly these books really do that quite well.
I think the skill in this comes from the fact that Kelby is a very experienced photographer *and* is also an experienced photography tutor in many areas, and he has probably got a brain full of the same questions he is asked by beginners over and over again. So armed with that wealth of material, he sat down and distilled the essence into these books.
These books are the kind of thing that I will try and read at least once a year, preferably a bit more often, and hope that each time I do, another thing sticks. Its about remembering key points, useful things etc and hopefully using that to improve your technique and quality.
What I particularly like is how he has broken the books down into different sections. As a beginner I am a little overwhelmed with all the different styles of photography out there. There is no way I am ready for wedding photography for example. So I might try something easy…. like landscapes! So I turn to the section on landscapes and away we go.
And yet there are still useful tips in the other sections – things like using window light effectively (move your subject further away from the window for softer light – whodathunkit?)
Common Chapter topics are:
General Tips and Tricks
And these encompass things like setting up your camera for a specific purpose, how to use flash effectively, tripod techniques, light and lighting, gear info, making a portrait look good and all sorts of useful stuff.
These are excellent reference books for a beginner. They are not expensive, and any one would be useful, but all three will give you maximum impact. The useful information : page count ratio is very high in these, as nearly every page has at least one piece of useful information.