Here’s a run down of a big stack of books that publishers have sent me to review. I haven’t had a chance to read these cover to cover, so my feedback is based on partial reads and skimming these books. Put another way, if a friend asked me “should I get this book?”, then what I’d tell them is what I’ve said below for each book.
From Oz to Kansas
From Oz to Kansas: Almost Every Black and White Conversion Technique Known to Man by Vincent Versace is the definitive guide on Black & White for those who really want to understand the processes in depth. For most of us, it’s probably more detail than we need so simply using Silver Efex Pro 2, or Topaz Labs B&W Effects will be good enough. However, I’m actually enjoying this book so I’m looking forward to having a chance to read it all on my flight to New York next month. It’s definitely worth the read if you are serious about Black & White photography. Vincent’s sample images in the book are worth the purchase price alone – they are great examples of what fine art black & white should be!
Recommended for those serious about the science of black and white photographer (and fans of my printing series)
The Hidden Power of Blend Modes in Adobe Photoshop
The Hidden Power of Blend Modes in Adobe Photoshop by Scott Valentine wins the sexy cover award so it grabs your attention, but I found Layers: The Complete Guide to Photoshop's Most Powerful Feature (2nd Edition) to be the better overall resource. Math geeks might like Blend Modes better, but Matt’s Layers book is way more approachable.
Nikon D800: From Snapshots to Great Shots
Nikon D800: From Snapshots to Great Shots by Jeff Revell is basically the beginners guide to photography using a Nikon D800. Of course, if you are a beginner you probably shouldn’t have a D800 (see why here), so I don’t get the purpose of this book. It’s pretty with nice images, but honestly there are much better books. Go check out my Which Photography books should I read? article for my advice on more helpful books to read. I’d advise reading those others and if you are still wanting more, then look at this book (if you are a D800 owner).
Canon 5D Mark III: From Snapshots to Great Shots
Canon 5D Mark III: From Snapshots to Great Shots by Ibarionex Perello goes a step farther than the D800 book above by offering a DVD for an extra fee where the author verbally gives you more examples of the content covered in the book. For some, this will help you learn better but for those who can absorb information from books I’d say it’s safe to skip the DVD. My Which Photography books should I read? article still offers more helpful books to read, but this book does earn some kudos for diving a bit into the top video and sound equipment which aspiring amateur videographers might find helpful. Like the book above, it’s nicely laid out but the 5D Mark III is good enough on its own that I don’t think many will find much need for this book after a brief initial learning curve.
Nikon D3200: From Snapshots to Great Shots by Rob Sylvan is a book written about a beginner camera for beginners, so in this sense it makes more sense than the previously two discussed books as the camera and subject material are appropriate for the same audience. It’s not afraid to discuss the auto modes and all the feature of this camera from a beginners perspective, so it’s a nice gift book for a new D3200 owner.
Recommended as a gift for new D3200 owners
Exposed: Inside the Life and Images of a Pro Photographer
Exposed: Inside the Life and Images of a Pro Photographer by Michael Clark is kinda like a Joe McNally’s The Moment It Clicks where it’s effectively like having a chat with the author over a beer about his life as an adventure photographer. There’s very little education in the content of the book, but the included DVD kinda makes up for it as it shows how he does his post-processing. Readers on Amazon seem to like, it, but I wasn’t impressed enough to finish the book. Your mileage may vary.
Kevin Kubotas Lighting Notebook: 101 Lighting Styles and Setups for Digital Photographers
Kevin Kubotas Lighting Notebook: 101 Lighting Styles and Setups for Digital Photographers is a great book that I've been trying to get around to reviewing in-depth on my blog for almost a year. It's extremely well laid out, informative and chock full of info. I’d put it ahead of Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It in terms of the volume of information, even though in some ways I preferred Scott’s book.
I’ll be taking this one on my flight to New York too as I’m eager to finally finish. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Visual Stories: Behind the Lens with Vincent Laforet
Visual Stories: Behind the Lens with Vincent Laforet was a book that I was pretty excited about when I got it because Vincent is a well respected videographer who should have amazing visual stories to talk about right?
Well, he might but myself and the two other people who I loaned a copy of this book to could never get inspired enough to finish this book either. It’s dry and never really grabs you.
Of course, I should say up front that I also wanted to poke my eyes out when trying to read the well respected book The Photographer's Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos by Michael Freeman, so just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean that you won’t love it. However, you won’t be seeing a full review of this book from me – that’s for sure.
Envisioning Family: A photographer's guide to making meaningful portraits of the modern family
Envisioning Family: A photographer's guide to making meaningful portraits of the modern family by Tamara Lackey has something a lot of photography books lack – excellent images. To me it is a simple, but fundamental thing that every photography book should get right even before the first word is written. What follows is a book where the author pours her heart and soul into a book that I think women will really enjoy. I think “get to the point” people will be a little frustrated by it, especially if they are intermediate to advanced.
Recommended for women aspiring to have a career or serious hobby in photography.
Picture Perfect Practice: A Self-Training Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Taking World-Class Photographs
Picture Perfect Practice: A Self-Training Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Taking World-Class Photographs by Roberto Valenzuela is written by a photographer who knows his shit - period. It contains very useful real world advice that you'd typically only get as an intern or apprentice of a master photographer.
This book is at the top of my list of “must finish” books, and I hope to do a more detailed review of it on my blog at a later date. It definitely seems like it could make my recommended photography book list!
Highly recommended for intermediate to advanced photographers.
Storytellers: A Photographer's Guide to Developing Themes and Creating Stories with Pictures
Storytellers: A Photographer's Guide to Developing Themes and Creating Stories with Pictures by Jerod Foster is the book that I think Vicent Laforet wanted write. This book really shows how to tell a story with a single photo and offers lots of instruction and exercises. Jerod is a Texas Tech University instructor and this book shows as it’s written very much like a text book (a good thing).
My only knock on this book is that it didn’t go into as much depth as I would have expected on a collection of photos to tell a story, but the author educates you on how to accomplish that. Overall this is a good book for those who are looking for compositional tips and how to have their photos tell a story.
Recommended for those advanced photographers who want to push their work to the next level with storytelling.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Book: The Complete Guide for Photographers
The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Book: The Complete Guide for Photographers by Martin Evening is a detail-oriented bible of a book that tells you everything you’d possibly want to know about Lightroom 4. At well over 650 pages, this book is for the ADVANCED Lightroom 4 user, not the beginner. The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Book for Digital Photographers will serve beginners needs much better, but if you’ve read Scott Kelby’s Lightroom books and longed for more depth – this is your answer.
Highly recommended for those who want everything there is to know about Lightroom 4 in a book that will break a toe if you drop it!
Other Articles You May Enjoy
- Which Photography books should I read?
- What Photoshop books should I read?
- What’s Hot in Photography & Photo Editing Books – Part II
- Sketching Light by Joe McNally
- Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques for Photographers using Photoshop
- The Adobe Photoshop CS6 Book for Digital Photographers
- Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It
- Photoshop Compositing Secrets
- Welcome to Oz 2
- What plug-ins should I buy? (for Photoshop & Lightroom)
- Which camera should I buy?
- Discount Coupon Code Page
- Printing Series
If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. These books were randomly sent to me to me by the respective publishers. As mentioned earlier, there aren’t enough hours in my days to read all of these so this is simply a high level overview of my impressions of these books after casual “bookstore style” thumbing through these books. Recommended books are the ones I’d probably buy if I were at the bookstore.