Beginner Book Recommendations

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Daniel
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#1
Hi, I am new to photography and I bought my first DSLR a couple of weeks ago, a Nikon D5500 with 18-55mm kit lens. I have been watching a lot of YouTube videos, and reading lots of articles on the internet on photography. But I am wondering if there are any books that are worth reading. Thank you in advance.
 
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#2
Have you actually taken the camera out yet? If so, how did that go - was there anything you were particularly unsure about whilst you were using it? Might help in giving more specific advice.
 
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Daniel
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#4
Have you actually taken the camera out yet? If so, how did that go - was there anything you were particularly unsure about whilst you were using it? Might help in giving more specific advice.
Yes I have had it out, I haves posted a couple of my images on this forum, one in birds and one in night. I feel as though it’s going ok although, I am not sure some of my landscape shots are as sharp as they should be or if it’s just me thinking they aren’t. Also, am not sure I am getting composition right as well.
 
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Phil
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#5
Yes I have had it out, I haves posted a couple of my images on this forum, one in birds and one in night. I feel as though it’s going ok although, I am not sure some of my landscape shots are as sharp as they should be or if it’s just me thinking they aren’t. Also, am not sure I am getting composition right as well.
I’m not sure mine are great either, it gets easier after the first 10 years - but 30 odd years in and I’m still learning.

It’s closer to learning a musical instrument than operating an appliance. You need to grasp the technical stuff - but just being technically able won’t create a great picture.
 
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Daniel
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#6
I’m not sure mine are great either, it gets easier after the first 10 years - but 30 odd years in and I’m still learning.

It’s closer to learning a musical instrument than operating an appliance. You need to grasp the technical stuff - but just being technically able won’t create a great picture.
Yes, I understand where you are coming from, there has to be creativity in photography. I have bought the understanding expose book and i am learning a lot from it, as well as reading on here to learn the technical stuff.
 
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#9
I'd suggest Henry Carroll's Read This If You Want to Take Great Photographs:

https://www.laurenceking.com/product/read-this-if-you-want-to-take-great-photographs/
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Read-This-Want-Great-Photographs/dp/1780673353

Carroll has also written a couple of other more specific books in the same series

https://www.laurenceking.com/product/read-this-if-you-want-to-take-great-photographs-of-people/
https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1780676247

https://www.laurenceking.com/product/read-this-if-you-want-to-take-great-photographs-of-places/
https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/178067905X

They are all well illustrated by images from major photographers, and tend to emphasise composition rather than the geeky bits, though the technical basics are also covered.

For a very different style of book, written as a dialogue between Magnum photographer David Hurn and Bill Jay, you might want to look at On Being a Photographer:

http://www.lenswork.com/obp.htm
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Being-Photographer-Practical-Guide/dp/1888803061

This short book, written in the film era, has no illustrations, and nothing much about the technical details, but includes a great deal of advice about how and why you might approach photography in general, from one of the great photographers and teachers.

You can also learn a lot from browsing a compilation of great photographs, like Photobox:

https://thamesandhudson.com/photobox-9780500292662

Canon have a nice tool for learning about how shutter speed, aperture and ISO interact:

http://www.canonoutsideofauto.ca/play/
 
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Name
Daniel
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#10
I'd suggest Henry Carroll's Read This If You Want to Take Great Photographs:

https://www.laurenceking.com/product/read-this-if-you-want-to-take-great-photographs/
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Read-This-Want-Great-Photographs/dp/1780673353

Carroll has also written a couple of other more specific books in the same series

https://www.laurenceking.com/product/read-this-if-you-want-to-take-great-photographs-of-people/
https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1780676247

https://www.laurenceking.com/product/read-this-if-you-want-to-take-great-photographs-of-places/
https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/178067905X

They are all well illustrated by images from major photographers, and tend to emphasise composition rather than the geeky bits, though the technical basics are also covered.

For a very different style of book, written as a dialogue between Magnum photographer David Hurn and Bill Jay, you might want to look at On Being a Photographer:

http://www.lenswork.com/obp.htm
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Being-Photographer-Practical-Guide/dp/1888803061

This short book, written in the film era, has no illustrations, and nothing much about the technical details, but includes a great deal of advice about how and why you might approach photography in general, from one of the great photographers and teachers.

You can also learn a lot from browsing a compilation of great photographs, like Photobox:

https://thamesandhudson.com/photobox-9780500292662

Canon have a nice tool for learning about how shutter speed, aperture and ISO interact:

http://www.canonoutsideofauto.ca/play/
Great, I will take a look at them. Thank you.
 
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Name
droj
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#11
Hi, I am new to photography and I bought my first DSLR a couple of weeks ago, a Nikon D5500 with 18-55mm kit lens. I have been watching a lot of YouTube videos, and reading lots of articles on the internet on photography. But I am wondering if there are any books that are worth reading. Thank you in advance.
I think that you can likely get all the instructional reading that you need on the web. Find what you want, devour it, and move on. Revisit it at will, or find new material.

Books that I do like having are those of photographers' work. It feel nourishing, having them on the shelf and being able to take one down in a quiet moment and immerse myself in it. But I wouldn't fuss about how to do it books. Not in these internet days.
 
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5,332
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Garry
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#14
I'd like to also add that it can help if you find a few people online that shoot the kind of subject(s) that you intend to shoot, and then take a close look at their work. See if you can work out what it is about their good photos that make them good.

For example, with landscape photography, is it the subject that's interesting? Is it the way they've framed it, with recognisable foreground, mid ground, and background elements? It is the balance of in-focus and out-of focus elements? Is it simply the colours and textures? Or the way they break 'the rules'?

All of these factors can make an OK photo idea into a good photo if executed well. And they apply to almost all types of photography.

Also, find some famous photographers and look at their work, to see how it differs from yours. You might not get far in trying to emulate their technique this early, but keep it in mind as you progress. You'll find that you start to develop your own 'voice'. Then, frustratingly, you'll probably lose it and find it a few times along the way. Don't take it all too seriously and you'll have a lot of fun.
 
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41
Name
Daniel
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#15
I'd like to also add that it can help if you find a few people online that shoot the kind of subject(s) that you intend to shoot, and then take a close look at their work. See if you can work out what it is about their good photos that make them good.

For example, with landscape photography, is it the subject that's interesting? Is it the way they've framed it, with recognisable foreground, mid ground, and background elements? It is the balance of in-focus and out-of focus elements? Is it simply the colours and textures? Or the way they break 'the rules'?

All of these factors can make an OK photo idea into a good photo if executed well. And they apply to almost all types of photography.

Also, find some famous photographers and look at their work, to see how it differs from yours. You might not get far in trying to emulate their technique this early, but keep it in mind as you progress. You'll find that you start to develop your own 'voice'. Then, frustratingly, you'll probably lose it and find it a few times along the way. Don't take it all too seriously and you'll have a lot of fun.
Thanks for you advice, I will take it into account. Any recommendations on famous photographers I can look at?
 
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#16
Rather than suggesting anyone specific, I'll add a couple more recommendations to the links above for large selections of work from well-known photographers:

Photography: The Definitive Visual History by Tom Ang:
https://tomang.com/photography-the-definitive-visual-history

The Photo Book from Phaidon, now in its second edition:
https://uk.phaidon.com/store/photography/the-photography-book-9780714867380
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Photography-Book-2nd-Ian-Jeffrey/dp/0714867381
The previous edition is also still available in a mini paperback format:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Photography-Book-Ian-Jeffrey/dp/071483937X

Plenty there and in Photobox, above, to see what sort of work appeals to you.
 
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Name
Daniel
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#17
Rather than suggesting anyone specific, I'll add a couple more recommendations to the links above for large selections of work from well-known photographers:

Photography: The Definitive Visual History by Tom Ang:
https://tomang.com/photography-the-definitive-visual-history

The Photo Book from Phaidon, now in its second edition:
https://uk.phaidon.com/store/photography/the-photography-book-9780714867380
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Photography-Book-2nd-Ian-Jeffrey/dp/0714867381
The previous edition is also still available in a mini paperback format:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Photography-Book-Ian-Jeffrey/dp/071483937X

Plenty there and in Photobox, above, to see what sort of work appeals to you.
Brilliant Thank you
 
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Name
Garry
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#18
Thanks for you advice, I will take it into account. Any recommendations on famous photographers I can look at?
Depends to some degree on what kind of subjects you want to focus on. Retune has given you excellent advice. See what appeals to you, find out whose work it is, see if you can find more online.
 
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Name
Ian
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#19
Ansel Adams' "The Camera", and if you enjoy it, "The Negative" and "The Print".

The were written almost 40 years ago (and thus can be found cheaply wherever you get 2nd hand books), but I was astounded to discover that they not only explain the technicalities in an extremely easy to understand format (as well as in as much detail as you're ever likely to need), but they re-iterate throughout that creative vision and visualisation are of the utmost importance. Obviously they relate to film, and you can skip the bits that relate to processing, but even they are useful when applied to a digital darkroom. Adams had potential to be a great teacher and these books are an example of that.
 
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#20
Ansel Adams' "The Camera", and if you enjoy it, "The Negative" and "The Print".

The were written almost 40 years ago (and thus can be found cheaply wherever you get 2nd hand books), but I was astounded to discover that they not only explain the technicalities in an extremely easy to understand format (as well as in as much detail as you're ever likely to need), but they re-iterate throughout that creative vision and visualisation are of the utmost importance. Obviously they relate to film, and you can skip the bits that relate to processing, but even they are useful when applied to a digital darkroom. Adams had potential to be a great teacher and these books are an example of that.
A lot of this is also true of Andreas Feininger's books, another great photographer who could also teach. I have an edition of The Complete Photographer from the 80s:

https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Photographer-Andreas-Feininger/dp/0131622552

Feininger is particularly (and refreshingly) disparaging about gear obsession! He also wrote shorter books that are purely about composition, which I imagine would be just as relevant in the digital age as when he wrote them, but I haven't come across these personally (a lot of The Complete Photographer is of course about film and processing).
 
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