Great resources for learning photography

Whether you’re just getting into photography, or you’re looking to take your photography to the next level, this post is for you. I thought this would be a good time to share some of the resources that I’ve found to be very helpful.

One of the best books for anyone just getting into photography is “Understanding Exposure” by Bryan Peterson. I read his first edition years ago and learned a lot from it. If you don’t understand the reasons for using different apertures or shutter speeds, this is the book for you. It also talks about different types of light as well as using filters and flash. I highly recommend this book for anyone new to photography. You can find this book by searching Google for it or go to amazon.com.

If you’re looking for something free, here’s an ebook that covers some of the same basic information as well as some slightly more advanced info. This is courtesy of Evan Sharboneau.

As far as beginner resources, these two are about all I have any familiarity with. I pretty much learned all of the basics in school.

Now we get into books and videos that go beyond the basics. One of the better online resources is kelbyone.

Scott Kelby is one of the best photographers you’ll come across and he has built quite a photography learning center. Besides Scott’s own books and videos, kelbyone features a large number of some of the best photographers and software experts you’re going to find anywhere. For the most part kelbyone is a subscription-based service. It’s $199 per year or $19.99 per month. I’ve personally subscribed yearly on 2 different occasions. What you get is unlimited access to all of the videos on the site. You can take a look at the videos available to see if you think it’s worth subscribing. You’ll see that they have videos that cover virtually every aspect of photography. The only downside is that you can’t download the videos so you only have access to them while you have an active subscription. Personally I like to purchase videos so that I have them permanently as I like to watch them multiple times. Sometimes I re-watch them just to get inspired to try new things. Despite not being able to download the videos, this is still a great resource. kelbyone also has books and DVDs that you can purchase. If you’re looking for help with Photoshop or Lightroom, Scott has written some of the best books you’ll find. They’re easy to follow and have lots of great tips to help you get the most out of either program. You don’t need to be a member to purchase their books, but I believe members get a discount.

Another of my favorite resources is Serge Ramelli. He’s a French photographer that does two free tutorials each week as well as having numerous tutorials for sale. If you already have a solid understanding of photography, I highly recommend you at least take advantage of his free tutorials. You can also sign up for his newsletter which gets you sample raw files to practice with while you’re watching his free tutorials. From there you can decide if you want to purchase any of his tutorials. Like kelbyone, Serge covers a broad range of topics. The big advantage for me is that whether you’re watching his free youtube tutorials, or purchasing his other tutorials, you have access to them for life.

I also have some book recommendations if you’re looking to really step up your photography.

One of my all time favorite photographers is Art Wolfe. One of the things I struggle with most is composition. Learning to “see” potential great images is something I’m always working on and I’ve read two of Art’s books that I found to be very helpful. “The Art of the Photograph: Essential Habits for Stronger Compositions” and “The New Art of Photographing Nature”. They both cover the technical as well as creative aspects of photography and are very well written. You can’t help but learn from his books as well as be very inspired. You can purchase these directly from Art’s website or from most online book stores such as amazon.com.

Another of my favorite photographers is Rick Sammon. I recently read his book “Creative Visualization for Photographers”. I found it very inspiring as well as very educational. This book was very easy to follow and Rick offers some very good exercises to help your creative process. This is another book that you can find by doing a Google search or simply going to amazon.com.
One really nice thing about Rick is that once you’ve purchased a book or course from him, you become what he refers to as a “student for life”. What that means is that you can email him questions and he’ll answer them. I’ve done that a couple of times, but I try not to abuse it.

The last book I have to recommend is by Glenn Randall. His book is titled “The Art, Science, and Craft of Great Landscape Photography”. In my first post I mentioned taking a photography workshop from the Colorado Photography Festival. The first day was a symposium from several photographers, and the 2nd day were the one-day workshops. I took a landscape workshop from Glenn which was extremely educational. If you take a look at his portfolio, you may notice that many of his images are shot from some of the highest peaks in Colorado. In order to get these images, Glenn has to hike up the mountains to setup a base camp and then make the final ascent to the summit to arrive before sunrise. Often times this means starting his final ascent in the wee hours of the morning. Combine the difficulty in getting to these locations with the fact that many of his images can only be take at specific times of the year, Glenn has to plan his shots ahead of time. In his book he explains the tools he uses to plan his images, some of the science of light and photography as well the art of composition. This is definitely a book for more experienced photographers and is more technical than the others. But if you’re trying to capture images of the moon rising over a specific location at sunset for example, then this is an excellent book to read.

All of these books will help you start to “see” the world in a different and more creative way. FYI, the only reason I included the links for amazon.com is that they offer used copies of these book at good prices. With the exception of Glenn Randall’s book(I bought it new at the workshop), I bought all the rest used through amazon.com.

If you have some good resources of your own, please feel free add a comment and share them.  Remember, we’re all in this together.

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