Photo books that matter
I was recently asked by a photo enthusiast friend of mine a question that comes up about as often as “what kind of camera should I buy?” My buddy asked, and I’m paraphrasing, “ What kind of photo book can you recommend that will help me understand what the hell I’m doing wrong with my camera?”
Just like talking to my friend, I don’t want to bore you with a long list of books, so I thought I’d focus on two books that have been of great value to me, both as a newb and as a full-time professional. The first is “Understanding Exposure” by Bryan Peterson, and the second is “Light Science and Magic” by Fil Hunter and Paul Fuqua.
Depending on what type of photography a person is trying to master, both books offer explanations and examples that will greatly benefit pros and hobbyists alike. Let’s start with my friend. He’s a dad, has a beautiful family and wants to record all his little girls’ growing up. Now, he’s a regular client of mine, so he leaves the heavy lifting to me, but I can’t always be there. Christmas morning, soccer games, recitals, that’s where my friend would like to shine. “Understanding Exposure” is the book for him. Mr. Peterson presents a step-by-step guide to learning when to use particular settings on your camera, what to look for and where to (potentially) position yourself for the perfect shot every time.
This is a terrific book, and I still go back to it often for inspiration. There are hundreds of examples and techniques, some of which I seldom use in my line of work, but some I use every day. Plus, the book has been recently updated to include digital camera techniques.
The second book is definitely more advanced, but indispensable in my library of books. I first picked up “Light Science and Magic” as part of my course work in my upper level photography courses at Ball State, and use it as a reference book these days when I’m having trouble with a particular subject, especially those that I don’t shoot every day.
This book describes in minute detail the properties of light and how to record them with your camera. It brings a bit of math back into the art of photography and deconstructs the family of angles. This book is a great help to people shooting mostly in the studio with controlled lighting, but I feel the lessons can easily be transferred into the field. There are exercises in photographing metal and glass, understanding reflection and absorption, as well as lighting equipment tips.
I could go on and on about these books, but I’m keeping it brief. “Understanding Exposure” by Bryan Peterson and “Light Science and Magic” by Fil Hunter and Paul Fuqua are worth the purchase no matter what level of shooter you are.