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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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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Soybean Harvest at Sunset

Soybean harvest at sunset near Hatfield Missouri.

A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine asked if I would get some images when the time to harvest soybeans came around. I told her the perfect image would be at sunrise or sunset with a nice sky and the combine kicking up some dust. When it was time for the harvest we had two cloudy days which would make for boring images. Finally, on the third day the clouds were breaking up in the afternoon and it looked more promising. I hopped in my car and drove to the harvest location.

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The Starscope Monocular, It Is The Same Old Scam

Starscope Monocular Telescope ad.

We’ve been down this road before (see the first link at the end). The scam works like this. Pick an inexpensively made product from China, jack up the price, make up ridiculous and false claims about the quality of the product and what it can do, and sell it on dozens of web sites that are ads thinly disguised as articles. Go to the internet and grab professional photographs created with high dollar professional camera gear and put the photos in the ads to give the impression the photos were made with the Chinese product. And for good measure, say in the ads that the product was designed by American or German engineers and manufactured in the U.S. or Germany. Create fake customer reviews to go in the ads, and for good measure, create fake reviews sites to endorse the quality of the product.

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Don’t Fall for This Scam!

Seriously, do you really believe you can see something “miles away like you’re standing next to it”? We’ve been down this road before (see the first link at the end of this article). A $47 monocular is not better than a $3,000 telescope, but thousands of people who know nothing about optics fall for scams like this. This screen capture is from the top of a long ad on the internet.

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What Are Your Favorite Portrait Photography Months?

Portrait Collage

What are your favorite portrait photography months? Whether you are a professional or amateur, when do you create most of your portrait images? Do they cluster around a particular time of year? For many wedding photographers the busiest times of the year are June and before Christmas. People who do senior pictures do most of their work in the late summer or fall, depending on when the photos need to go to the yearbook editor. My portrait photography is much less specialized, so I decided to check out my busiest months.

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Two Photographers and Eleven Outdoor/Travel Writers Pick the Best National Parks for Fall

Long’s Peak and Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park

Fall is a fabulous time of year to visit the national parks. Crowds are usually smaller than in the summer, temperatures are cooler, and some of our national parks have glorious fall colors. With so many to choose from, where should you go? Which national parks will provide the best photographic opportunities in the fall?

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The Best National Parks for Fall Photography

Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

What are the best national parks to photograph in the fall? Here are my choices, grouped by state and province from west to east. This list includes the favorites I have been to, plus the ones I most want to see based on the recommendations of the photographers I trust, like Tim Fitzharris and QT Luong. More about them later.

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Colorado Fall Color Photography and Travel Guide

Maroon Bells and Maroon Lake. Mid-morning. September 24, 2015.

Maroon Bells and Maroon Lake. Mid-morning. September 24, 2015.

Headed for Colorado this fall? Welcome to my Colorado fall color photography and travel guide with 131 photos, 18 maps, and over 100 pages of information (if you print it all out). I cover some of the best known fall color locations in Colorado, and one real gem of a road that is mostly unknown to photographers and leaf peepers. Spend anywhere from a few days to two weeks exploring the beautiful Colorado Rockies at a gorgeous time of year.

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