SimpleSLR: Hands-On Photography Training, is a fantastic book from Andy Lim – well known in the photography world for his photography classes and tutorials (as well as great images, of course!). His new book (which is available to buy here) is an extension of his classes; fitting in lots of practical lessons and examples to get the new DSLR-owner up to speed and taking great shots in no time.
And that sentence above really sums up why I’ve found Andy’s book so great: it’s full of practical lessons. It’s not one of those books that’s just full of technical theory and jargon; instead, Andy has written it as if he’s guiding you through one of his personal tutorials.
What I Learnt
Well, where to begin? I’ve read and reviewed quite a few photography books now, and whilst I have learned something new from each and every one, Hands-On Photography Training is the one I’m coming back to the most. It’s not just about the knowledge that Andy imparts, but the way he does it – each section is easily and straightforwardly explained, with full illustrations and example photos throughout. He just seems to make everything so easy to understand, and I can sit there, camera in hand, and physically go through his lessons and examples – learning the best way, practically.
So, some examples, I hear you ask. And here you go!
How To Handle Backlight Situations
You know those times when your chosen subject is standing in front of something really bright? And it frustrates you because your photo comes out with the subject looking far too dark? That’s because of the strong backlight, fooling your camera into exposing the scene wrongly (or, at least, not exposing the scene how you want it to look!).
One of Andy’s lessons in this book guides you through just what to do to get around this problem; working to get a photo where both the background and your subject are correctly exposed. Top stuff.
Using The Right Focus Point
You may already be familiar with the ‘focus, lock, recompose’ technique, where you can get focus on your chosen subject, and then recompose your shot so they’re exactly where you want them to be in the frame. However, did you know that instead of using this technique, you can just choose a different focus point for your camera to use, rather than using the centre-point all the time?
Not only does Andy talk through this technique, step-by-step, but he also gives great tips on just where is best to get quick, effective focus, and how getting this right can improve the amount of photos you decide to keep tremendously.
OK, What Else Is In The Book?
Oh, you want more examples? Well, how about:
- A beginner’s guide to exposure
- How to use Aperture Priority mode effectively
- How to control Depth of Field
- Wide angle lens vs Telephotos
- ISO settings
- How to avoid camera shake
- …and lots more…
…and, one of the best features of the book, 12 ‘Analysing The Shots‘ examples – where Andy shows you a photo he took, and then explains in great detail just how he ‘got the shot’: camera settings, compositional tips and more. If you’ve ever read any of Scott Kelby’s great photography books, you’ll have seen something similar (what Scott calls his ‘Photo Recipes’) – but Andy goes into even more details in his book.
As well as being a great resource for a beginner or enthusiast photographer, I really liked the fact that it is an e-book; I was able to put it on my iPad, prop it up on the table, and go through each lesson with my camera in my hands – the best way to learn. (Being able to read the book on your daily commute would be an added bonus!).