Some of the Best All Purpose Photography Books

photography books

Some of my favorite all purpose photography books.

Out of hundreds of books in my photography library, these are my favorite all purpose photography books. This is a list of the 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 digital technical information that the heart and soul of photography can get lost. The best film photography books are about the heart and soul of photography. They are light and shadow, subjects, form, texture, line and shape, and visual impact – all of which applies to digital photography.

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Freedom from Want

Freedom from Want (2016) by Hank Willis Thomas and Emily Shur in collaboration with Eric Gottesman and the Wyatt Gallery

Norman Rockwell’s classic painting “Freedom from Want” was created in 1943 and was part of his Four Freedoms series. It was inspired by FDR’s annual address to Congress, January 6, 1941. That address became known as the Four Freedom’s Speech. Contemporary photographers and artists have been inspired to create contemporary versions of the Four Freedoms. This is one of them.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

“Freedom from Want” (1943) by Norman Rockwell

I love Thanksgiving! When I was growing up, we spent many a Thanksgiving and Christmas at Grandpa’s house. Thanksgiving was a much anticipated and happy time. We would often leave home on Wednesday afternoon after dad got home from work. It was a long 7 hour drive to Grandpa’s house in those pre-interstate highway days, so it would be really late by the time we arrived.

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A High Quality, Compact RØDE VideoMic for Your DSLR and Smartphone

RØDE VideoMicro in use at Acadia National Park.

Let’s face it. While many recent DLSRs, ILCs and smartphones can give you excellent visual quality in the videos, the sound quality of the built in microphone leaves a lot to be desired. For a modest amount of money you can bring the sound quality up to par with the visual quality. That is why video mic sales have exploded.

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The Best Panorama Gear: Living in Panorama Heaven

180° Panorama: Yosemite Valley at Night. Eagle Peak, Yosemite Point, and North Dome. Yosemite National Park. Right click to see a larger version.

Really Right Stuff makes an excellent, simple to use panorama set up that won’t take up a lot of room in your camera bag. After using bigger, more awkward panorama gear, switching to Really Right Stuff’s set up was like being in panorama heaven. It is compatible with the Arca-Swiss-System.

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Tripod Head Recommendations: Some of the Best of the Best

Two ball heads and two 3-way heads.

A good tripod head will save you lots of frustration. For still photography I recommend two types of tripod heads. If you do a little of everything you will want a quality ball head for the quick and easy aiming of the camera. If you only do landscape or architectural photography and you want precise separate controls in each axis of motion, you will want a 3-way head.

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The Best Closeup Photography Equipment

Forget-Me-Nots, Thorne-Swift Nature Preserve, Michigan

Forget-Me-Nots, Thorne-Swift Nature Preserve, Michigan

There are several ways to do closeup photography. Closeup filters, extension tubes, and macro lenses are the most commonly used options. The best gear for you depends on your preferences, how you want to work, the subjects you are after, how much stuff you want to carry, and how much you want to spend. I cover your best options.

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Get Sharper Images By Using The Best Lens Calibration Tools

Lens Calibration Tools

Lens Calibration Tools

A lot of photographers have discovered their almost sharp lens was actually a very sharp lens once they tweaked the micro-adjustment settings. You will get sharper images if you adjust the settings for your specific camera and lens combinations. You do this using the micro-adjustment settings in the camera menu along with a lens calibration tool which you can buy or make yourself.

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GoPro: Amazing, Small, Inexpensive, HD Video Cameras

GoPro HERO10 Black

Looking for a small, mountable, “ideal for sports and action”, inexpensive, high definition video and still camera with a waterproof housing and image quality that Lucasfilm (the Star Wars people) calls “amazing”? This camera will go anywhere and mount just about anywhere. Prices range from $279 to $399 (which is a lot less than your typical DSLR with HiDef video).

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Inexpensive Gifts (Starting at $8) for Photographers

Flash adapter and umbrella for an shoe-mount electronic flash.

Flash adapter and umbrella for a shoe-mount electronic flash.

There are a lot of practical and inexpensive (more or less) gifts for photographers. Here is a nice list of items starting at $8. To make it easy to track them down, these items are individuality linked plus most of these items can be found in the Misc Goodies section of my photography store which has direct links to Amazon.com. Prices are current as of the date of this post, but prices do fluctuate. Some items can be temporarily unavailable. These items are not listed in order of price.

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Project: Photograph the Sun, Moon, and 8 Planets in One Day

Uranus, Mars, Neptune, Saturn, and Jupiter. Near Lake LaShane.

When I read at various astronomy related web sites that it was possible to see all of the naked eye planets in one day on or around November 16, 2020. I decided to try and photograph all of them, along with the moon and sun. As an added bonus I would photograph Uranus. It is not visible to the naked eye but easy to photograph with an ordinary camera and lens with a long exposure. Neptune was also out but I thought it would be too faint to pick up in a long exposure. I was wrong. To my surprise and joy, Neptune showed up as a tiny streak of light on my images.

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Camera Choices: Using Full Size Test Images from DPReview.com

Panasonic Lumix ZX20 (left) vs Canon SX260 HS (right)

I was comparing the Canon PowerShot SX280 HS with other cameras with similar features (shirt pocket size, 20x zoom range) like the Panasonic Lumix ZS30. There weren’t full reviews of either camera so I went back to reviews of the Canon SX260 HS and the Panasonic ZS20, assuming the current cameras would be somewhat better than the older models and that both would have the pedigree traits of their predecessors (which is often but not always the case for a camera’s family tree).

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Buy What You Can Afford!

My go everywhere camera kit, mid 1980s-1990s.

The first rule when choosing camera gear is to buy what you can afford. It is hard to enjoy taking pictures if you are worried about how to pay for the camera you are holding. So buy what you can afford now, and upgrade later. And the second rule? We will get to that later.

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How Long Will Your Photo Lab Prints Last Without Fading?

Estimated Print Life from Wilhelm Imaging Research

Would you rather have a high quality print that will last up to 50 years, or a print that will fade in 5 years? That’s not all. The print with a very short life expectancy might cost more than the better quality print. People buy short life span prints all the time. Why? Because they don’t have the right information, and they may have no idea that prints have such widely different life spans.

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How to Get the Best Results from the Best Online Photo Labs


The lab you choose and the kind of file you send to your lab can make a huge difference in the quality of prints you get back. How do you pick a good online photo lab? How do you get the best results from your lab? What color space should you use for your digital files and how do you convert your files to the right color space? How big a print can you make from your digital files?

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

Welcome to my online buying guide for photographers. With over 75 articles it is one of the most comprehensive buyer’s guides on the web.

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

My “best of the best” series recommends the best photo gear, accessories, software, books, DVDs, online photo labs, and a whole lot more. Thanks to the information in these articles I get emails from photographers thanking me for saving them time, frustration, and a lot of money.

This article is published annually in November with regular updates. Most recent update: November 26, 2021.

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