book review

Digital Photography Books

Although most of these books have the word "digital" in their titles, the principles apply to film cameras as well. But if you're buying a general-interest photography book, looking for the word "digital" is actually not a bad idea unless you like reading about developers, Kodachrome, and other film-related supplies that are getting harder and harder to find.

The Photographer's Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos
by Michael Freeman

I n this book, Michael Freeman, a professional photographer, describes the artistic principles for creating good photographs. "Most people using a camera for the first time," says Freeman, "try to master the controls but ignore the ideas." Whether the person behind the camera realizes it or not, the real goal of photography is not just to create a pretty picture; the composition of a photograph has profound effects on the viewer's subconscious that can reinforce or transform the meaning of the subject matter. Research in cognitive psychology over the past fifty years supports this idea. Form, one might say, is as meaningful to the brain as shape and color. This book, printed on heavy paper, is filled with beautiful high-quality photographs that effectively illustrate the concept.

Pushing the boundaries of composition too far can also create a photo that looks staged or even Reuterized; some of Freeman's photographs, such as his photo of a mountain on page 106, exhibit this effect. Smaller photos illustrate how different ways of arranging the composition can make the difference between a pedestrian snapshot and a photographic masterpiece.

Digital Infrared Photography
by Cyrill Harnischmacher

A short, nontechnical introduction to infrared photography with a digital compact or DSLR camera. "Infrared" in this book means, of course, near-IR between about 660 and 1200 nm, which is quite diffferent from the long wavelengths used in thermal imaging. In near IR, vegetation and trees appear white and the sky appears black. As is beautifully illustrated in this book, IR photography gives landscapes an otherworldly appearance. This book provides just enough information for beginners to decide whether to try infrared. More practical applications, such as art investigation, astrophotography, and nature photography, are only mentioned in passing. Although well written and beautifully published, with lots of high quality pictures, only the basic details are given on cameras and filters. Readers seeking technical information, such as IR spectra of common objects or details about how to remove the IR-blocking filters from their cameras, will be disappointed.

The Digital Photography Book:
The Step-By-Step Secrets for how to make your photos look like the pros'!
Volumes 1 and 2
by Scott Kelby

T hese popular and inexpensive books give the basics for taking pictures and for organizing your photo shoot, aimed at the average person who mainly wants to take pictures of other people. Volume 1 features some of the author's goofy humor. The advice, while basic, is sound. There is no technical information on f-stops or ISO settings--just quick, easy-to-understand advice for beginners written in a folksy, direct style.

Langford's Advanced Photography:
The guide for aspiring photographers, 7th ed.
by Michael Langford and Efthimia Bilissi

T his book, first published in 1969 and continually updated over the years, still retains its original discussion of topics such as film developing and silver recovery, which are now mainly of historical interest. But there's also a bunch of technical information about lenses, exposures, depth of field, and f-stops that modern digital photographers still need to know. Only about one-third of this 412-page book is still relevant today. Although it's by no means an optics text, the appendix even has a couple of the basic lens equations.

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