Buyer’s Guide: Recommendations For The Best Photography Equipment, Software, Books, Magazines, DVDs, Online Photo Labs and More

I get lots of photo questions this time of year, and many of them begin with “What is the best . . . .” They usually come from photographers or someone shopping for a photographer.

Here is my list of “best of the best” of articles recommending the best photo gear, software, books, DVDs, calendars, online photo labs, and a whole lot more.

Posted Nov. 19, 2016. Updated and re-posted Dec. 2, 2016.

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Great Set of DVDs: Joel Sartore’s Fundamentals of Photography

Fundamentals of Photography

I finally found an excellent series of photography lessons on video to complement my book, Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies, and it is by Joel Sartore, a first class photographer who does a lot of work for National Geographic. He does stunning photography in amazing situations all over the world. You can see some of his work in the galleries at his web site.

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The Best Photography Magazines

Some of my favorite photography magazines.

My Favorite Photography Magazines

There are a ton of photography magazines out there and it seems like there are new ones every time I go to my favorite newsstand. But some are clearly better, more accurate, more useful, and with better images. The magazines that follow are, from my point of view, the best of the best photo magazines.

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Mastering Photoshop: Retouching, Part One

Adobe Photoshop Restoration and Retouching (4th edition)

Adobe Photoshop Restoration and Retouching (4th edition)

 

Katrin Eismann is a world class expert on photo retouching. She is one of the best of the best. In 2005 she was inducted into the Photoshop Hall of Fame. Anything she writes should be high on your reading list if you are serious about making the most of your Photoshop skills.

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Mastering Photoshop: Advanced Color Correction, Part One

 

If you want to master color in Photoshop, Dan Margulis is the best of the best. He is one of the first three persons to be named as a member of the Photoshop Hall of Fame. And the book to get is Professional Photoshop: The Classic Guide to Color Correction (5th Edition). It is well worth finding on the used market (which you can do via my photography store). What Margulis teaches you to do with color is amazing. The before and after images will make your jaw drop.

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The Best Digital Photography Books

Some of the Best Digital Photography Books

Some of the Best Digital Photography Books

Some well chosen books can make a world of difference in your digital photography. Some of the best books are about the camera side of digital photography, some are about the digital darkroom side, and some are about both. Out of hundreds of books in my photo library, I picked out the best.

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The Best Astronomy and Astrophotography Books

Orion's Belt and Sword Scabbard and the Orion Nebula

Orion’s Belt and Sword Scabbard and the Orion Nebula

Interested in getting into astrophotography? The simple stuff is simple to do (like the photos below) and all you need are a camera, lens, and tripod. For some astrophotography you will need specialized but not very expensive equipment like the $300 sky tracker used for the photo above. The challenging stuff is hard, complicated, and expensive to do if you want eye popping photos like you see in Astronomy and Sky and Telescope magazines. No matter what you want to do, the books below will get you started. And if you just like to look at the night sky, I recommend some books for that too.

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Two Excellent Nature Photography Books by Tony Sweet

Golden Brook. Photo © Tony Sweet

Golden Brook. Photo © Tony Sweet

I’ve been reading two excellent nature photography books by Tony Sweet. They are published by Stackpole Books. They choose first class photographers who have written an excellent and ongoing series of photography books. I’ve been giving high praise to Stackpole’s photography books for years and I now have two more to add to the list.

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The Best “How To” Nature Photography Books

Nature photography books

Some of my favorite nature photography books.

Want to be a better nature photographer? Read anything by John Shaw, Galen Rowell, Art Wolfe, Freeman Patterson, Tim Fitzharris, George Lepp, Larry West, Arthur Morris, Allen Rokach, John Netherton, Leonard Lee Rue III, Brenda Tharp, Tony Sweet, and the Stackpole (publisher) nature series. Now for some of the “best of the best” books to look for. These are my favorites out of hundreds of photography books in my library.

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My Favorite Introduction to Landscape Photography

Joseph Lange, How To Photograph Landscapes

Joseph Lange, How To Photograph Landscapes

I was packing the car for a 10 day trip to Iowa, and I picked out a few essential photography books to take with me. My plan was to revisit them in preparation for one of my upcoming nature photography workshops. When I unpacked in Iowa, Joseph Lange’s How to Photograph Landscapes was missing. Oh No!

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Advanced Photographic Composition: The Best Books


Is composition something that can be taught, or is it innate? Probably a bit of both. It is hard to look at photographs by Frans Lanting, Art Wolfe, Galen Rowell, and Dewitt Jones without coming to the conclusion that they were born with some kind of innate sense of composition. On the the other hand, it is clear that photographers can improve dramatically with the right kind of guidance.

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Photographic Composition: The Essential Book

The Art of Photograhy, Art Wolfe and Rob Sheppard.

The Art of Photograph, Art Wolfe and Rob Sheppard.

Art Wolfe is a world class photographer, and it shows in The Art of the Photograph. There are a lot of books on photographic composition (I own several, and I’ve looked through a lot more in various libraries), but this is far and away the best introduction to photographic composition I have come across. If you aren’t an experienced professional photographer, this book is an absolute must read. (I am assuming professionals already know this stuff.)

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The Best Illustrated History of Photography

Photography: The Definitive Visual History by Tom Ang

Photography: The Definitive Visual History by Tom Ang

When I picked this book up off the shelf, I couldn’t put it down, at least not until I put it down on the check out desk and bought it. There have been some very fine illustrated history of photography books that have come and gone, but this is far and away my favorite.

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