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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 21 Sep 2017 (Thursday) 20:55
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Best photography books/references

51 posts
Likes: 6
Joined Sep 2017
Location: St. Augustine, FL; USA
Sep 21, 2017 20:55 |  #1

Hey all,

As a beginner->maybe intermediate-level photographer, I was wondering what references other people have found along the way, or any books you've read through, that you feel really taught you a lot or helped shape the way you shoot today?

A little self-reflection for everybody... 0:-]


V/r, Garrett
Current Equipment:
- Nikon D750 | D3400 | MB-D16 | SB-700 | Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 Di VC USD | Sigma 35mm f/1.4 ART | Sigma 85mm f/1.4 ART DG HSM | Rokinon 12mm f/2.8 Fisheye | Nikkor 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 VR | Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 | Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 DX |

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Dan ­ Marchant
4,833 posts
Gallery: 17 photos
Likes: 1145
Joined Oct 2011
Location: Where I'm from is unimportant, it's where I'm going that counts.
Sep 24, 2017 08:23 |  #2

For me there were three stages of learning.
1. How to take photos (how to operate your camera)
2. What to photograph (how to compose photos and use settings for creative purposes)
3. Why the f am I taking photos (the art/meaning of my photos)

For initial learning (stages 1 & 2) I didn't read any books because I think they tend to go out of date too quickly. Instead I read magazines and watched youtube videos.

Once I knew how to use my camera and had a basic grasp of composition I moved onto books for more in-depth stuff (stage 3).

Dan Marchant
Website/blog: (external link)
Instagram: @dan_marchant (external link)
Gear Canon 5DIII + Fuji X-T2 + lenses + a plastic widget I found in the camera box.

Senior Member
401 posts
Gallery: 41 photos
Likes: 311
Joined Jul 2013
Location: Hartford, CT, USA
Post edited 6 months ago by s1a1om.
Sep 24, 2017 12:08 |  #3

Light Science Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting …hotographic/dp/​0240812255 (external link)

And a decent book on Photoshop. I forget which one I have and I can't find it at the moment.

Constructive criticism is always appreciated.

171 posts
Gallery: 49 photos
Likes: 103
Joined Mar 2014
Location: Ireland (when I do get home!)
Sep 24, 2017 17:00 |  #4

I found Syl Arena's "Speedliter's Handbook" the single best photography book I've read over the past 25 years. Whilst aimed at Canon flash users, it contained many good principles of photography that would as relevant for users of any gear (as you are a Nikon user).

There are other books by the same author such as "lighting for the digital photographer" which is more generic (I think) rather than Canon orientated.

Canon 80D, 700D & G7 X; EF-S 10-18/18-135 STM, EF-S 18-135 IS USM, 50 F1.4, 100 F2.8L Macro, 16-35 F4L, 70-200 F4L IS; 100-400 L II, Speedlite 430EX II

Cream of the Crop
9,696 posts
Gallery: 1 photo
Likes: 460
Joined Jun 2007
Location: MI/CO
Sep 24, 2017 17:59 |  #5

There is no better resource than YouTube

The things you do for yourself die with you, the things you do for others live forever.
A man's worth should be judged, not when he basks in the sun, but how he faces the storm.

My stuff...​hauncey43 (external link)

Senior Member
455 posts
Gallery: 15 photos
Likes: 186
Joined Apr 2016
Sep 24, 2017 21:48 |  #6

From personal experiences:

1) Understanding Exposure by Brian Peterson (learning the science part of photography)

2) The Digital Photography Book series by Scott Kelby (learning the experiences from experts)

3) Photography Q&A by Zack Arias (learning some of the thoughts to common queries)

4) Understanding Composition Field Guide by Brian Peterson (learning the art part of photography)

5) Speedliter's Handbook by Syl Arena (learning Canon's speedlite system and flash photography)

6) The Moment It Clicks by Joe McNally (learning the art part of photography)

7) The Photographer's Eye by Michael Freeman (learning the art part of photography)

8) The Photographer's Mind by Michael Freeman (learning the art part of photography)

There are also some great articles (Eric Kin, etc) and websites (The Strobist, etc) out there....

Lots of information out there but I would say, built a strong foundation first.

Happy Learning!

Canon 7D Mark II | BG-E16 | Canon EF-S 10-18mm | Sigma DC 18-35mm ART | Canon EF 70-200mm f/2,8L IS II
Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT |
Olympus E-PL3 | M.Zuiko ED 7-14mm PRO
Manfrotto BeFree Travel Tripod |

Creme de la Curmudgeon
8,620 posts
Gallery: 53 photos
Best ofs: 2
Likes: 1733
Joined Apr 2008
Location: Milo's Meadow - Bloom County
Sep 25, 2017 00:24 |  #7

My library includes the following: (not ranked in any specific order and not a complete list)

"Photography & the art of seeing" by Freeman Patterson

"Speedliter's Handbook" by Syl Arena

"Road To Seeing" by Dan Winters

"The Passionate Photographer" by Steve Simon

"50 Portraits" by Gregory Heisler

"Light Science and Magic" (mentioned in an earlier post)

"The Photographer's Eye" by Michael Freeman

"Cape Light" by Joel Meyerowitz

"The Nature of Photographs" by Stephen Shore

I know you asked for books, but I'll echo the YouTube recommendation and also online...

In conjunction with Syl's book, check out Strobist (external link) and David Hobby's Lighting 101 course online.

One other online photography resource with links that are updated daily: http://photography.all​ (external link)

Our local library has a used book sales area that I check frequently. More than half of my photography related books came from that source and they're usually very inexpensive.


Cream of the Crop
8,409 posts
Gallery: 211 photos
Best ofs: 11
Likes: 3952
Joined Jan 2010
Location: Chula Vista, CA
Sep 25, 2017 02:03 |  #8

Personally i would start with Bryan Peterson's "Understanding Exposure", and follow it with "The Photographers Eye" by Micheal Freeman. (both mentioned above) Those two will give solid grounding in both how to use your camera, and how to build a composition. Neil Van Neekerks "On Camera Flash Techniques" is an excellent book to get going with an on camera speedlight. Where you go from there will really depend on what you want to shoot. (external link)"Vacuous images for the Vapid consumer"
500px (external link)
flickr (external link)
1x (external link)
instagram (external link)

Cream of the Crop
6,248 posts
Gallery: 5 photos
Likes: 215
Joined Dec 2009
Location: Canada, Ontario, Milton
Sep 25, 2017 11:29 |  #9

I learned about technicalities by looking at pictures I was interested technically and checking EXIF. I asked a lot of technical questions at P.O.T.N. I read camera manual many times and was trying to repeat it with camera. I took 20K exposures in M mode to understand the exposure. All of those shaped me technically. But reading books wasn't helping much to me for it.

And then I started to try to understand what is good photography. Jane Bown, Fred Herzog, Henry Cartier Bresson and Gary Winogrand are my reference books for it. I use them as reference to tune in. And looking at the art I like in museums.

Old Site (external link). M-E and ME blog (external link). Film Flickr (external link). my DigitaL and AnaLog Gear.

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Best photography books/references
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