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Best photography book?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Rawfa, Jun 12, 2011.

  1. Rawfa

    Rawfa Mu-43 Regular

    81
    Dec 17, 2009
    I've been browsing the web and amazon but I still cannot make up my mind about which book to get. What I'm looking for is a compilation of the the best photos made by the greatest digital photographers of our age accompanied by the photo it self and an explanation of how it was made, mentioning equipment, technical data, lighting, etc. My photography is all done with natural or ambient light, so even though I won't mind samples of studio photography I'd prefer a closer approach to natural/ambient light.

    thanks

    Rafa
     
  2. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
  3. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    There are many, many books and likely billions of pictures. I think your requirements are too broad. What kind of photography are you looking for? "Natural light and not studio" is not quite specific enough.

    Street photography? Sports? Portrait? Landscape? Travel? Glamor?

    The other issue you'll face -- books focused on the art portion (say, covering a specific photography, or a compilation of street photography) rarely have the exposure or equipment details.

    Books focused on learning to use your equipment often have the technical and equipment details, but are rarely "made by the greatest digital photographers of our age" -- they are often written and compiled by a single author/photographer, and their usually use their own work (because they don't have to pay anyone else royalties, plus the author knows what they were thinking and using at the time of the shot).

    Bryan Peterson, as mentioned above, has some pretty good books that cover exposure, shutter speed, etc. and often mention equipment and exposure. Another good author is David DuChemin and his books like "Within the Frame." These kinds of books have the technical details with some regularity but are, of course, by one author, so you are usually exposed to their (good) work, but rarely other photographers in that same book.

    Other examples: Michael Freeman's book (The Photorgraphers Eye and others) Photography and the Art of Seeing (Freeman Patterson). One that might come close for you (but I've not read myself) is Joe McNally's The Moment it Clicks. I don't have this last one myself, but reading it's description (it's on my Amazon wish list), it seems that it's a compilation of a number of photographers, though I don't "the greatest of our generation."

    One other bit to note -- many famous and fantastic pictures are NOT "perfect" examples of exposure and often were shot on what we'd consider today, sub-standard equipment. So, looking for details for exposure on some of the best photos know to humankind would be a waste of time.

    Hope some of those help. Good luck in your search. If you do find the book you are looking for, please do share!
     
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  4. photoSmart42

    photoSmart42 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    628
    Feb 12, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    The Photographer's Eye. 'nuff said.
     
  5. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Gordon
    I think the book you're looking for is, George Barr "Why Photographs Work". It's a new publication but already hard to find. I haven't read it yet, as I don't buy paper books anymore, but I've seen nothing but positive reviews of it. Here's a review I found.

    Why Photographs Work

    Gordon
     
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  6. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    Oooh. Looks like a good one. Frustrating, though, that Amazon doesn't have even one single example of inside the book. Only the contents, cover flaps and front/back cover.

    I buy all my reading books on Kindle, but how can you NOT buy photography books on paper? Do you find there's a reading device that gets you a good shot at the pictures, too?
     
  7. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    IMHO, the "rules" of composition, etc are broken so often I don't think one can learn much about the artistic aspect from a book. You can, however, learn how to make the photographs match your vision - DOF, motion blur, grain/noise, etc. Then, as you get out and take tons and tons of pictures your own personal style can emerge.
     
  8. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Not digital photography, but this may be the ticket if you don't already own a copy: <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0870705156/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=amipho-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217153&creative=399349&creativeASIN=0870705156">Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures from the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art</a>http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=&l=as2&o=1&a=0870705156&camp=217153&creative=399349" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />

    Review by Mike Johnston of The Online Photographer: [url=http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2009/04/looking-at-photographs-by-john-szarkowski.html]The Online Photographer: Looking at Photographs by John Szarkowski[/url]
     
  9. photoSmart42

    photoSmart42 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    628
    Feb 12, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    For every impactful photo you show me I'll show you how it meets at least one of those 'rules' of composition you're quick to discard :smile:. They're not really rules anyway, simply observations based on the elements of a photograph that people have discovered over the years which contribute one way or another to a great photograph. It's not like anyone's forcing anyone else to 'obey' those 'rules'.

    IMO any photographer who's serious about their craft should at least be familiar with time-proven elements of great photographs beyond the simple fundamentals of operating a camera (focus, exposure, lighting, DOF, etc.).
     
  10. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Agreed, rule of thirds, etc provide a basis.

    My point is you're going to learn more about composition by getting out and shooting pictures more than you will by reading a book.
     
  11. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    You mean it is more valuable for an amateur to look at a bunch of mediocre photographs he/she has taken than looking at examples by masters? Interesting idea. I learnt a great deal starting out at looking at other's work. Mostly because I could start to analyze what worked and see how different photographers interpreted the world around them. It tends to open up the possibilities.

    Looking at the work for masters tends to be a valuable tool in the education of artists no matter the discipline.
     
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  12. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Gordon
    iPad. Generally I find that if done properly images look better on the iPad than much of the cheap paper stock used in modern books. Also I have my favourite 100 titles with me all the time.

    I do buy coffee table books and the like in paper, but not any "technical" books. The larger books are generally on much better stock.

    Gordon
     
  13. photoSmart42

    photoSmart42 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    628
    Feb 12, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    Actually most people won't, and the vast majority of photos I see on forums prove that. It's the same with everything - you won't know what you're doing wrong if you have no credible outside source of criticism. Believe me I tried and failed. I had the same thought for over a year, and ended up continuing to take mediocre snapshots as opposed to photographs. A single photography class with some very constructive and honest feedback opened my eyes to the value of even some basic education in the art of photography. No, I'm no master, and still have a LOT to learn, but compared to where I was before I took that class it's night and day.

    For the record, there's a LOT more to composition than the rule of thirds. That just happens to be the most-mentioned ones because it's easy, very basic, and most modern cameras now come with a grid that helps frame the photo into thirds. Beyond that there are at least 40 other 'rules' for composition.
     
  14. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    People learn in different ways. I don't think composition is something many people can learn from a book. It requires "personal" feedback, either in a class or online, as each individual situation and photograph is different.

    In the end, each person will have their own style, and while certainly some coaching can help, the best solution is taking lots of pictures, seeing what YOU like and don't like (pretty much to hell with what everyone else likes and doesn't like) and evolving so that you take a higher % of shots YOU like.

    At least that has been my experience after reading a number of books. I wish I had just spent the time out taking more pictures, I would be much further along now.
     
  15. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    For me, I need both. I need to read, learn the "rules" or basics, then see other's work, and how they follow or violate those rules (and why they follow or violate) and then shoot a lot myself.

    For me, it has to be both -- not one or the other.

    On a related note -- have you been following the Vivian Meir story? She's the street photography that was discovered posthumously in Chicago. She had shot over 100K FILM shots AND they had discovered that she had volumes of books on photography. So someone as talented as Mair had both reading and shooting to hone her skills.
     
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  16. walt_tbay

    walt_tbay Mu-43 Veteran

    322
    Aug 24, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    The Photographer's Mind, The Photographer's Eye and Perfect Exposure by Michael Freeman are my go to books. :smile:
     
  17. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    If you have an iPad, you should really check out the Craft and Vision app. It's an app that let's you download a series of snooks by folks like David duChemin, Michael Frye and others. I've learned a ton in the using lightroom for b&w conversions. There's like 15-20 books available for $4.99 each. Well worth it, IMO.
     
  18. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    If you want a broad collection of photography, A World History of Photography is a great volume.
     
  19. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    tc, you don't learn composition from a book by other artists, you discover possibilities, new ways of interpreting the world. A person is severely handicapped if the only thing they know is what they do. I can't think of a successful artist, or scientist for that matter, that did not draw inspiration from others.
     
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  20. Iconindustries

    Iconindustries Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Geez Hikari, are you ever wrong? ;-)