Friday, April 30, 2010

a review of "The Digital Photography Book" [29-31]

The Digital Photography Book, Volume 1
The Digital Photography Book, Volume 2
The Digital Photography Book, Volume 3
by Scott Kelby (Peachpit Press)

I enjoy taking photographs. There really is something to that old phrase that a picture is worth a thousand words. But sometimes, maybe often, you take one that is only worth 500...and you want to figure out how to ramp that number up.
When I was planning my Great Alaskan/Yukon Adventure, I decided to buy a better camera than the little point and shoot I had. Not a great DSLR, although I may buy one right after I win the lottery. Rather I bought the more modest Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28, a camera in the middle of the spectrum. Because while great equipment make taking great pictures easier, I think a good eye and the ability to know how to use what you have is the key. So, I went to the library to look for some photography books. I took out several, looked through them all, but one rose to the top of the pile in terms of usefulness. Rose to the degree that I went out (ok, I actually went online) and bought the author's three volume set. And of course, these are the books, Scott Kelby's "The Digital Photography Book, Volume 1, 2, 3".

One thing I really like about these books are the format. Not page after page of dry technical data, but rather each page being one clear and practical explanation of one particular issue. As Kelby describes the approach...
"If you and I were out on a shoot, and you asked me, 'Hey, how do I get this flower to be in focus, but I want the background out of focus?' I wouldn't stand there and give you a lecture about aperture, exposure, and depth of field. In real life, I'd just say, 'Get out your telephoto lens, set your f/stop to f/2.8, focus on the flower, and fire away.' You would say, 'OK,' and you'd get the shot. That's what this book is all about. A book of you and I shooting, and I answer the questions, give you advice and share the secrets I've learned just like I would with a friend, without all the technical explanations and without all the techno-photo-speak."
Each of the three books contains over 200 of his "tricks of the trade", a good amount of information about different cameras and lens and filters and all sort of equipment..or as I like to think of them, "toys", and a great deal of practical advice and new ideas you will want to try out. A beginner or more advanced 'shooter' will both, without question, find a great deal of useful information in each volume, all presented in a very attractive and non-intimidating way..with a fair bit of humor. While he often give a good explanation of the theory behind a technique, the emphasis is on the practical, how to do a certain thing or get a certain effect.

While anyone interested in photography might be tempted to just go out and get the first volume, and that is a great book, I would really recommend you get all three nice paperbacks. This very nice boxed set would be something I would strongly recommend to anyone hoping to improve their picture taking skills.


  1. I've only read the second, but I love these books. This guy rocks. He's how I learned to photograph, and now I do sittings. (Or trying to, with a move to a new province and busy life.) I so need to get the first and third, too!

    (Drop by on my blog... whatever your beliefs, we're starting a prayer chain for a little boy.)

  2. I've been trying to learn more about photography too. I've got a great book on my camera, but do admit that some of it is over my head.

  3. We have book one and I have just stsrted reading it a few wks ago. I didnt know there were 2 more!! Thanks for writing on this.

  4. great review--I've added a star so I can remember the names of these books. Thanks for the tip.

  5. I am wanting to hone my photography skills this summer. I hope that my library has this series --- it sounds wonderful!

  6. It seems to be a very popular series, so I am sure many libraries will have it.
    But I had to have my own copy after I looked at it. I warn you!

  7. I need to learn to take better pictures, for my blog and myself, and these look fantastic. thanks for pointing them out!

  8. Mr. Jenners is the photographer in our family and he is always playing around with little tricks he learns from photography magazines. But I wonder if he would like these books? It seems like a good approach. And the good thing with digital is that you don't have to pay to develop the 500 bad photos to get to the one good one!

  9. I've been learning to use my cameras through trial & error. But I've been thinking it might be useful to consult a book. Thanks for the heads up!


please speak up, I LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!!