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Friday, 5 February 2010

Know Your Camera and Take Better Photos

Review of "Photo Nuts and Bolts"

Improve my camera skills ...what for?

Improve my camera skills ...what for?

Learn to know your camera and take better photos.

Photo Nuts and Bolts is a how-to guide for the novice to intermediary photographer who would like to learn more about taking better photographs. Written by Neil Creek, this book is essentially a series of lessons to teach the basic fundamentals of photography and take the guesswork out of getting great shots. The author is passionate about digital photography and also loves to teach others. He has written a photography blog for over four years and is also a staff writer for Digital Photography School, and he currently is teaching a series of portrait photography classes.

This book grew out of Neil’s photography blog and writing for the Digital Photography School, where he ran a series of articles titled “Photo 101” which taught people how to use their cameras to best advantage, and venture away from the automatic settings to get truly great pictures.

Neil Creek offers a series of simple lessons that explain the how and why certain things are with respect to photography, and also explains why it’s relevant and important to the photos that you take. Each short chapter also gives you a series of resources to check out for further information, as well as some “homework” so that you get some hands-on experience with the theories and fundamentals he is introducing you to. Each chapter explains in detail, but in laymen’s terms for easy understanding, a different aspect of photography and how it can help you to take better photographs.

In ten relatively short lessons, the author begins by explaining light and how simple things like pinholes and bending light can make a great difference on the pictures you take. He moves on to more advanced things that many of us think are truly complicated- like lenses and F stops, and explains them so simply that anyone can understand.

The book gets into more complicated territory further on- like lessons on aperture, ISO, and shutter speeds, but if you start at the beginning and read all of it as well as doing the hands-on homework assignments, you will be well prepared to delve into those complex areas. By the time the author discusses light meters and explains how to get great shots of difficult images- like fireworks or shots with little natural light, you completely understand why you’re doing each thing and how to go about getting a great shot.

There is also a lot of information about white balance and metering modes that will help your shots to be perfectly exposed. The appendices offer a glossary of photography terms in easy to understand language, as well as a section about reading diagrams that helps to understand a lot of the concepts of physics and optics from the earlier chapters with charts and illustrations.

The book is very clearly written, in language that is easy to understand even for those who are photography novices. The author definitely lays out the information in a format that helps those who are new to the “non-automatic” world of photography to understand why it’s important for them to learn these things and how much better their good pictures can be by using these techniques.

Having once been one of the “novices” I referred to above, who only knew how to point and shoot my camera and hope for the best, I really enjoyed Neil Creek’s book, and his detailed explanations. I also like the way he presents a subject, offers additional reading resources, and then gives you some “homework” to help you learn in a more hands-on way. Though it might be a little basic for those with highly advanced photography experience, it is a “must-read” for those who wish they could do so much more with their existing digital camera.

Do yourself a favour and check this out. You know I wouldn’t go to this much trouble unless I thought this guide was pretty cool.

Review written by Roy Barker