Tag Archives: fundamentals

eBook Review: Photo Nuts and Bolts

Photography is just like every other skill — it requires three things: 1) a basic understanding of the fundamentals, 2) lots of practice, and 3) some raw talent (and maybe a little luck). Books won’t help you much with the last two, but they’re perfect for the first one.

Photo Nuts and Bolts: Know Your Camera and Take Better Photos is a book that focuses on the fundamental theories and mechanics of the camera. So this goes way back to the very nature of light and the tools we use to capture it.

Aimed at the beginner to intermediate dSLR user, the book steps through the foundations of modern photography. Understanding your camera and the light it captures is the basis of solid photography and is essential to more advanced topics.

You can purchase Photo Nuts and Bolts from digital Photography School. Links in this post are affiliate links to the product — It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but I get a cut of the sale.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Photo Nuts and Bolts is a 64 page downloadable eBook containing 10 lessons in the fundamental theories and mechanics of photography. The three column layout and minimalistic formatting make this book easy on the eyes and a pleasure to read. Supporting photos and diagrams are scattered throughout as needed, but are not overbearing in their presence. Each lesson is approximately three to four pages long, making them a moderately quick read.

The 10 lessons in this book are very concise and to the point (I’m particularly impressed because I’m a rambler). The material is presented as introductory reading for the given topic. While it does go into details, it will leave the reader with a basic understanding and a thirst for more. The last page of each lesson helps quench that thirst with homework challenges, additional resources to various websites and web articles, and questions/answers and comments from fellow photographers on the given topic.

The flow of the book is fairly important, and I would suggest reading the lessons in order since they build on each other. We start off with a few lessons in light and optics, followed by exposure controls, and finishing up with additional camera controls. The end of the book also has a glossary of the basic terms used throughout the book.

As a bonus for the launch of the book (1 week only), you’ll receive a one page pocket guide intended to print out, fold up, and… stick in your pocket. This little guide gives you some general camera settings that may be useful for 10 different situations (outdoor sunshine, outdoor dusk, indoor action, indoor low-light, etc.).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Neil Creek is a fellow photography enthusiast that decided to take a shot at the professional side of things a few years ago. He’s been doing well photographing, teaching courses, and writing for the digital Photography School. I’ve known Neil for some years now, and his enthusiasm for the art of photography has only grown each day. The writing in this eBook reflects his high level of understanding in the technical and mechanical/optical aspects of photography.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS

This is a good solid book that teaches the foundations of photography in a concise and meaningful fashion. And even if you’re somewhat familiar with the topics, there are a lot of background and theory details presented that you don’t typically see outside of textbooks.

Readers of the digital Photography School blog will notice that many of the lessons in the book have been published in the past months. So why buy the book? A lot of stuff has been reworked and touched up in these articles. Plus, the last two chapters are completely new. It’s also handy to have everything in consecutive order and in one package so you can quickly reference the topics at any time.

I would suggest this book for beginner/intermediate photographers wanting to gain a better understanding of their equipment (the dSLR in particular). If you’re struggling with concepts like exposure controls, lens controls, light metering, white balance, and other fundamentals, this book should straighten you out.

You can purchase Photo Nuts and Bolts for $19.97 just for this first week for an undetermined time period, after which point it will return to the regular price of $29. Plus, the pocket guide is only available for the first week purchases, so grab it soon!

Book Review: Fundamentals of Photography

Photography is such an expansive subject and it’s quite impossible to cover everything in a single book. Some books focus on very specific topics, but contain in-depth information. Other books are broad, but just skim the surface. Regardless of the style, many informational photography books drone on page after page, leaving the reader in a haze of technobabble and jargon.

I received a copy of the Fundamentals of Photography by Tom Ang, and I must admit that I was skeptical of the book before I opened it. I assumed it would be one of those “talk about everything” books with a very shallow offering of knowledge. I was wrong.

I don’t know how he did it, but Tom Ang managed to pack an incredible amount of information into this small handbook. Not only is the information valuable, it’s extremely concise and well laid out. The book would be great as a front-to-back read or as a reference book for the occasional information search. Oh, and it covers both film and digital photography!

Be sure to read on, we’re giving away a couple copies of the book for free.

Fundamentals of Photography (ISBN 978-0375711572) can be purchased directly from the publisher or through Amazon.com.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Fundamentals of Photography, the Essential Handbook for Both Digital and Film Cameras, by Tom Ang is 352 pages long with a soft cover. The book contains 11 chapters filled with information and sample photos to demonstrate the topics covered. The chapters include a General Introduction, Fundamentals of Light, The Camera, Capturing Light, Using the Lens, Manipulating Light, Working with Color, Processing the Image, Digitizing the Image, Outputting the Image, and References.

Each chapter is broken up into bite-sized sections covering a very specific topic (as the sample above shows). Most of the sections span two pages (across the fold), so the topic can be studied without flipping through page after page — it’s all right there in front of your eyes. Certain sections are also marked as “advanced topics” aimed at the photographers with some amount of learning under their belt. And finally, there are a couple of “Analysis” sections in some of the chapters that present a full image across the two pages with many notes pointing out things that were talked about in previous sections of the chapter — kind of a “hands-on” lesson.

The really cool thing about this book is the fact that it presents material for both digital and film photography. In some cases, similar concepts between the two mediums will be in high contrast. In other cases, the same exact concepts apply to both. This type of content is useful for those wanting to explore the medium they’re not familiar with. It’s also useful as a digital photographer to understand film concepts and how those concepts have transcended into digital.

For me, the book showed up at a great time (I just got my darkroom set up and running), and I found myself reading heavily into the darkroom sections along with the deeply technical subject of film in general.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Ang is a seasoned photographer and educator, not to mention an avid writer with nearly 20 books published. His work has been exhibited internationally, and for 12 years he was a Senior Lecturer in Photographic Practice at the University of Westminster, London. He was also the presenter for two six-part BBC programs on digital photography.

You can find Tom on the web at his main website and his photography blog. This man has a wealth of knowledge, and I’d suggest you check out his blog articles and any of his books.

ABOUT THE FREE BOOKS

Knopf Publishing Group is giving away two free copies of the book. All you have to do is leave a comment and let us know you’d like one of them. In one week (December 1, 2008), I’ll choose two random entries and we’ll send the books along.

If you don’t see your comment show up immediately, it probably just needs to be moderated. If you don’t see it show up after two days, it probably got attacked by the spam filter. If you want to be sure it doesn’t get eaten, just include the word “fundamental” in your comment and I’ll search the spam box for that word.

UPDATE: The winners have been chosen!

MY FINAL THOUGHTS

I like it, definitely. I’m not typically a fan of photography-information books because it’s not usually done well, but I like this one. My main reason for liking the book is because it gets to the point and doesn’t fool around — very concise layout. The other reason I like it is because of the diversity of the subject matter (film, digital, illustrations, examples, technical, non-technical, etc). The book is easy enough for a beginner, but interesting and useful enough for advanced photographers.

I don’t really have anything bad to say about the book. Some people might not like the soft-cover, but I think it suits this book just fine (plus it helps keep the price to a ridiculously low number). I could complain that it doesn’t go to extreme depths on every topic presented, but that would defeat the purpose of the book (plus it would be really boring).

I would definitely recommend the book to beginners wanting to jump-start their education. I’d also recommend it to the more advanced photographers as a reference. And if you’re interested in learning the ropes of film photography, this book is a good start.

Fundamentals of Photography (ISBN 978-0375711572) can be purchased directly from the publisher or through Amazon.com.