If you’re into your photography (and the odds of that are pretty high since you’re reading this!) then you have probably heard about this book by now, as, apparently, it is the best-selling digital photography book of all time. This is a statement which is proudly displayed on the book’s cover, and, to be honest, it’s pretty easy to see why it has sold so well – because it really is that good.
Basically, if you’re just starting to dip into the world of photography, or even if you’ve been into it for years, if you haven’t read this book, go get it now! You’ll see why I rate it so highly throughout my full review below, but if you can’t wait to read it all, just pop over to Amazon US or Amazon UK and order a copy – trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
What I Learnt
I like to approach my photography book reviews by letting you know just what each particular book has taught me, showing some examples of how it has improved my photos, and thus how it can improve yours. There are just so many tips and advice nuggets found within The Digital Photography Book that it would be impossible for me to list everything I learnt, so I’ll just try to include a sample of the varied practical things this book showed me.
At the crux of this book is the fact that the author, Scott Kelby, is not explaining all the technical jargon and know-how all the time – instead he is telling us what settings to use on our camera, what lenses and at what distance, and not bogging us down with all the technical stuff. I found this really refreshing, especially when I was just beginning my journey into the world of DSLR photography – there is time to learn all the technical jargon later; what I wanted was a practical guide on how to start making the most of my camera purchase (I use a Canon 500D, by the way, called a T1i in the US), and The Digital Photography Guide was exactly what I was looking for.
So, without further ado, here are some of the things this book will teach you:
Pro Tips For Getting Really Sharp Photos
I think I speak for most of us amateur photographer by saying one of the main reasons we invested in our fancy SLRs was in the pursuit of getting those ultra-sharp photos we see the pros produce. Sharpness – although not the be-all-and-end-all of photography – is important; our eyes naturally rest on the sharp places in photos, and, after all, who wants to take blurry photo after blurry photo?
The Digital Photography Book has a whole, lengthy chapter on how to get really sharp photos, and some of the tips include:
*Using a cable release or ‘self-timer’ mode. One of the main causes of blurry photos is because of the camera moving when we physically press the shutter – so knowing I can set the camera’s ‘self-timer’ mode, and not just for self-portraits, means I can avoid that movement.
*Investing in a tripod. The steadier your camera, the sharper your shots.
*Shooting at your lenses’ sharpest aperture. I didn’t know this before reading this book, but apparently every lens has an aperture that it produces the sharpest shot at – which is normally two full stops smaller than fully open (read the book for more details on this).
There are 10 more great tips on getting ‘tack sharp’ photos (including an explanation of where the phrase ‘tack sharp’ comes from) in this chapter alone!
Shooting People Like A Pro
My favourite subjects to shoot are definitely people, and so this chapter of the book I found particularly interesting and useful. Some of the great tips include:
*The best lens for portrait photography. A medium telephoto, such as an 85mm, will produce flattering shots that won’t produce facial-distortions like a wide angle lens can.
*Where to focus. There are many options on where we can focus our portraits, but focusing on the eyes means you’ll get a good amount of sharpness throughout the whole face.
*How to compose the portrait. Composition is always important, even if you have the most beautiful model in the world (and sorry, my wife is already taken!) so this shows us how photos can improve dramatically by filling the frame, and having the eyes about a third of the way down from the top of the photo.
The above are just a few examples of what you can learn from this book – there just isn’t enough space on the interweb for me to list them all! Other chapters you can devour include:
*Shooting Flowers Like a Pro
*Shooting Weddings Like a Pro
*Shooting Landscapes Like (yes, you’ve guessed it!) a Pro
*Shooting Sports Like a Pro
*Avoiding Problems Like a Pro
*Taking Advantage of Digital Like a Pro
*Taking Travel and City Life Shots Like a Pro
*How To Print Like a Pro and Other Cool Stuff
*Photo Recipes To Help You Get ‘The Shot’
I must say that each and every chapter is incredibly interesting, and Scott Kelby’s writing style kept me hooked, even when talking about elements of photography I’m not that interested in (such as flowers). The last chapter serves as a great summary, as it includes pages of Scott’s photos, with exact details on how he took that photo – you will recognise camera settings and tips that he has been talking about in the sections preceding it (I also took inspiration from this section with my own ‘How I Got The Shot’ section on this website).
In short, and as must be pretty darn clear by now, The Digital Photography Book is a fantastic guide, and one I couldn’t recommend any higher, no matter what your current photography skills are – from beginner to pro, I’m sure you will find a wealth of new tips that will improve your photos.
It is the first of what is now a trilogy of books, and I’ll be writing my review of the second book soon. In the meantime, if you liked this review, you may enjoy my Understanding Exposure review, or, indeed, the photography book reviews section.
And why not follow me on twitter too?