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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Ansel Adams: Books by (and About) the Master

Ansel Adams - Half done, Merced River, Winter

Ansel Adams: Half Dome, Merced River, Winter. © Ansel Adams Publishing rights Trust

I have no idea when I was first entranced by the photos of Ansel Adams. There is a wonderful, luminous quality to his work. Small wonder he is America’s best known landscape photographer. Collections of his work would make a worthy addition to any photographer’s library. This is also the time of year that Ansel Adams calendars pop up like snowstorms.

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The Best Night, Astronomy, and Astrophotography Books

Orion's Belt and Sword Scabbard and the Orion Nebula

Orion’s Belt and Sword Scabbard and the Orion Nebula

There is a whole world of things to photograph after the sun goes down. Cityscapes at twilight and after dark. Landscapes in the late evening light. Thunderstorms. Fireworks. And then of course, there is astrophotography. The simple stuff is simple to do (once you have learned how to do them) 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 the kind of eye popping photos that you see in Astronomy and Sky and Telescope magazines (you should subscribe to one or the other or both if this is your thing). 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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The Best Scenic Photo Location Guides

Some of my favorite photo location guides.

Some of my favorite photo location guides.

“If you want to be a better photographer stand in front of more interesting stuff!” – Jim Richardson, National Geographic photographer.

A good scenic location guide can save you hours of precious time searching for the best spots at a new location. The best scenic locations guides are written by and for photographers. Photographers are much more in tune with what other photographers want to photograph. And for each location, photographers will tell you the best season of the year and the best time of day to get the best images. Some will give you additional photography advice for each location.

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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 to write 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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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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Some of the Best All Purpose Photography Books

photography books

This is a list of books that were the most helpful to me when I took a serious interest in photography, and I continue to refer to them. These books were written back when film was king, but that makes them all the more valuable to today’s digital photographers. Some digital photography books get so bogged down in technical information that the heart and soul of photography can get lost. The best film photography books are about light and shadow, subjects, form, texture, line and shape – all of which applies to digital photography.

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Satellite Communicators: The GPS Messaging Devices That Can Save Your Life

DeLorme inReach Two Way Satellite Communicator

The original DeLorme inReach Two Way Satellite Communicator

You need help. You can barely move. You are far enough from the trail that no one can hear your voice. You have no cell phone signal. What do you do?

Every now and then you hear tragic stories about people who lose their lives simply because they didn’t have a cell phone signal and couldn’t call for help in an unexpected emergency. A $260 – $340 satellite communicator would have saved their lives.

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My Hard Drive Crashed (Burned, Drowned)! Where Do I Send It To Get My Data Back?

This laptop burned in a house fire. DriveSavers recovered the data.

This laptop burned in a house fire. DriveSavers recovered the data.

So your hard drive crashes or is damaged in some other way. Where should you send it? The choice is important. If you don’t send it to one of the first rate data-recovery services (expensive as they are), a cut rate company could mess up your drive and make it impossible for a first rate company to retrieve your data.

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The Best Insurance for Your Photo Gear (and Photography Business)

Granite Ledges and Otter Cliff, Acadia National Park, Maine

Your camera falls down a mountainside and off a cliff. An unexpected wave drenches your valuable photo gear in salt water. Your photo backpack is stolen from your home, motel room, or trunk of your car. To add insult to injury, you learn your homeowner’s insurance will not replace the value of your damaged or stolen gear.

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The Best Film and Flatbed Scanners

Plustek Film Scanner, Epson Flatbed Scanner

If you have precious slides, negatives, or prints that you want to scan, you have come to the right place. Choose wisely from the scanners that are available or you could get burned. A scanner that might be just fine for one person will be totally unsuitable for the next person. When it comes to scanners you need to know what you are getting and, just as importantly, what you aren’t getting. That is what this article is all about.

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