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2 Brief Photography Book Reviews
A couple of great reads from my personal collection
By Mark Fenwick
Here are a couple of quick photography book reviews. I really want to share these great little publications with you, because they stand out as 2 of the best in my library. I've enjoyed reading, and often returning to them, both for different reasons.
'The New Manual of Photography' is cracking introduction to the technical and creative skills of photography. I've read loads of photography books over the years and this one is well inside my top 10! I always recommend it to friends who are just starting to get more into photography.
Then there's 'Hot Shots' by Kevin Meredith. This is one of those cool and quirky sort of photography books. It won't be for everyone - especially since the author mostly uses film (not that that makes the tips only relevant to film uses though) - but I love it! It's full of cool photos and is really easy to dip in and out of.
1. The New Manual of Photography, by John Hedgecoe
I've had my copy of John Hedgecoe's comprehensive guide to photography for quite a while, but the most recent edition was published in 2009.
This is a book that I recommend for every beginner photographer to read - and to keep on their shelf for reference. It's been invaluable for me over the years, and it would be great for anyone who has stopped taking photos for a while and needs a quick-fire refresher course!
In the first part of the book, Hedgecoe outlines the technical basics of photography. The nuts and bolts, like aperture, shutter speed, focus, metering and so on. It's the clearest run through of the basics I've come across. Here are some of the sections it features:
- Depth of Field
- Shutter speeds
So, having dealt with all of these important basics, Hedgecoe then moves on to the fun stuff of creating amazing images and using your camera creatively!
The second part of the book takes specific subjects and explores how to capture them effectively. Sections include:
- Portraits and people
- The natural world
This part of the book aims to stimulate your imagination and spark creative ideas. It gives you an idea of how to approach familiar subjects from a fresh perspective.
The book then moves on to more advanced training related to working in a studio and employing various special techniques. Post-production work in both darkroom and digital format is dealt with.
'The New Manual of Photography' will enable any beginner to master the fundamentals of good photography. But it's not a chore to read! You can easily dip into the pages whenever you want some inspiration. It's not only the text that is high quality, but also the wonderful photos that illustrate it.
2. 'Hot Shots', by Keven Meredith
My second recommendation is a fun, pocket sized (5" x 7") little book that packs a big punch! 'Hot Shots' , by Keven Meredith, features 220 pages packed with photographic inspiration! There are masses of neat tips and wonderful photos accompanying them.
Meredith actually uses mostly cheap film cameras. He just loves aesthetics of the images. But the tips and ideas in this book apply to users of all cameras.
How's that? Well, because the big lesson of the book is that it doesn't really matter what camera you use, but how you 'see' a great picture. That's what makes photography fun, and it's what it should always be about.
The format of the book is simple and engaging: The first 179 pages consist of a 'hot shot' on the right, with corresponding notes on the left about how the shot was taken, including relevant tips. The text is generally short and sweet. It doesn't have much detail, but makes up for it with pithy insights and suggestions.
It's very entertaining to just flick through the book and randomly find a shot to look at and read all about. I must say, some of the tips are very basic, but they are interspersed with nuggets of gold!
The final section of the book is great, featuring explanations of:
- Photography fundamentals
- Types of cameras
- Film and processing
- Travel with a portfolio
- Super-sharp scanning
- Photoshop essentials
- Online photo sharing
- What next?
- Image management
- Check your EXIF
'Hot Shots' is an informative and inspiring read - a great addition to any photographer's bookshelf!
If I had to recommend just one of the titles from the above 2 photography books reviews, I would go for 'The New manual of Photography'. It's packed with useful, practical info.
There's never a substitute for getting out there and shooting of course. But both of these photography books will provide great advice on taking better pictures and inspire you to be a better photographer
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