Over the last few years I have spent a fortune on photography books. Most of them have been helpful and some have been particularly expensive and in hindsight perhaps not the best investment I have ever made.
The next generation of book publishing is well and truly here in the form of eBook, I have to admit I was a little sceptical at how easy digital books are to read but having dabbled I am hooked. The following are five great photography focused e-books that cost just $5 each !. They are ranked in no apparent order.
1. The Magic of Black and White
It is hard to believe you can get a 58 page ebook packed with top photography advice for $5 and this isn’t even a special offer ! The Magic of Black and White is the first of a two book series on monochrome photography. The ebook is written by Andrew S Gibson a photography writer for EOS magazine, Smashing Magazine and Photo Tuts+ (Andrew’s website is available here).
So what is the book about ?
I love monotone photography but can never quite grasp why some photos look good converted to monotone while others look, well frankly horrible. The Magic of Black and White deals with the fact that monochome photographs are a different medium than colour and require an ability to see in monotone.
“Becoming aware of the differences between black and white and colour images, in both how they are seen and what makes a great black and white image, is the first step to capturing images that will work powerfully in monochrome.”
We have all seen black and white photos that stand out as different almost stunning due to the very absence of colour. I have tried to recreate the same stark, confident style in my own work and I am learning slowly that the key skill isn’t in post production but actually spotting the types of scene that work in monotone.
Andrew has a real passion for black and white photography and attempts to break down the various aspects of the black and white photo and make sense of the what works in monotone. From texture, contrast and shape the book takes a fresh look at communicating through the still image.
Monotone photography is an art, it is photographer’s interpretation of a subject and if are even slightly interested in black and white photography then this could be the best $5 you will spend this year.
The eBook is easy to read and is particularly well designed. This isn’t a rough PDF created from a long blog article, it is a well thought out and designed product as if the book was in print format (see the screenshot above).
What I like most about this particular eBook is that it isn’t so much about photography but about art. The Magic of Black and White doesn’t teach you how to use your camera but challenges you on how to “see in monotone.”
Andrew offers a fresh approach to monochrome photography, the ebook looks at the elements of black and white photography in a way that will benefit the pro just as much as the complete novice. At 58 pages the book offers a quick easy boost to your creative eye and I will definitely be approaching black and white photography with a whole new mindset as a result.
Having read the eBook I look at my black and white flickr set and see photos that really are not suited for monochrome, lets hope you see a few improvements in the future.
2. Below the Horizon
“Below the Horizon” by Dave Delnea is another essential classic in the $5 eBook series, this forty page publication looks at understanding light at the edges of the day.
There is no doubt the extremes of the day, early morning and evening offer the most inspirational light transforming even the dullest of locations with colour and shadow.
Below The Horizon was written by a photographer whose commercial work includes some of the finest resort properties in the world. Dave Delnea’s ability to see and capture the mood present in light at the edges of day have garnered him some exceptional clients and produced some amazing images.
Dave’s secret is no secret at all; simply to understand and capture the light that is uniquely present when the sun is below the horizon and other photographers have put their cameras away.
The eBook is coloured with stunning photography, in fact even without reading the words the images in this eBook are inspirational. Dave takes us through recommended equipment none of which is overly expensive from tripod to cable release he also looks at lens selection and one area to which I am yet to venture, the graduated filter.
This is a packed book from strobe lighting to how to photography star trails the writing is simple and I have about seven photo projects on the to-do list as a result.
I think the conclusion says it all, Dave comments “The world becomes a wonderful place for the photographer once the sun has left the sky. I don’t think I’ve ever regretted pulling myself out of bed early, or staying out a few extra hours to get to capture the shots you see in this book. The techniques I’ve discussed can be learned and applied fairly quickly; yet can be refined, experimented with and added to for a lifetime.”
Dave packs a lifetime of photography experience and educates those starting out with a pretty much invaluable guide to getting the most from the sun. There is no doubt that low light photography is challenging and to be honest something I have steered clear off to date. In this challenge the best opportunities are there to be captured.
This is a straight to the point guide beneficial not matter where you are on your photographic learning curve. Looks as if I have a few late nights and early mornings to tackle in the year ahead.
3. Ten Ways to Improve your Craft
Top ten lists are common place on most blogs but ‘Ten Ways to Improve your Craft’ isn’t just a list of photo tips but a challenging guide how to radically improve your photography without buying more gear. To get straight to the point this book is a must have guide regardless of the type of camera you own.
So many photographers end up suckered in to the idea that their work would be better if they had more lenses or a better camera, this $5 eBook demonstrates ten easy and free ways to look at how you take photos and thus ultimately improving the final results.
The book is written by David duChemin with a simple premise, if photographers could cut through the noise and work on their craft without being bombarded with the need to buy more gear, we’d become better at our craft and create more compelling images.
The underlying question the book asks is, “so where do I go from here, once I’ve learned how to use my camera?” and David responds offering ten solid steps to take on your photographic journey, each with accompanying creative exercises.
In actual fact the list itself isn’t that important it is David’s explanation, creative examples and exercises that offer the biggest education.
I won’t give to many away but the topics include : Better Contrast Creates Better Stories, Create Depth, Pay Attention to the Moment and Pay Attention to the Light.
I am loving this ebook series, they are like a weekly injection of inspiration and photography improvement and cost much less than the cost of a photography magazine but with the opportunity to propel your craft to the next level.
Ten ways to improve your craft is a 32 page downloadable PDF eBook that costs just USD $5.00 don’t tell David duChemin but it is worth considerably more !!!
4. Chasing the Look
‘Chasing the Look’ brings education and inspiration together in single concise ebook sure to change how you plan and approach your work.
‘Chasing the Look’ is about making intentional choices about the use of our gear and the settings on our cameras based on their aesthetic effect. It begins to answer the question we all ask at some point while looking at the images of others – “How come my photographs don’t look like that?”
While part of that question is answered simply, that we all have different vision and therefore different images, part of it must also be that we are not paying enough attention to the look each decision brings to the final image.
Chasing The Look walks you through those elements and encourages you to begin thinking aesthetically and not merely technically. The book addresses the philosophy of photography, it looks at what we learn from the work of others and that we should be asking “how can I use that technique in my own creative expression ?”
Broken down into ten key topics this 48 page ebook will leave you with a catalogue of ideas and techniques you will want to put to use in the months ahead.
Getting the most out of light in the best way possible, Depth of Field, Shutter Speed, Think Differently, Move the Frame and Move the Contents, The Look of Light is Everything, Colour Balance for Mood and Mix it Up are just a few of the topics covered in the book.
Not only is the book packed with learning it also suggests creative exercises that allow you to easily apply the knowledge in the context of your own photography. Chasing the look is a work of art in its own right, it’s gorgeously laid out, and costs a mere $5.00
5. The Magic of Black and White 2
The Magic of Black and White series is about the craft of converting the captured image into black and white in the digital darkroom.
Where Part One – Vision, looked at the process of seeing and capturing in monochrome, Part Two – Craft, looks at the tools needed to turn a colour digital negative into a spectacular-looking black and white image using the software of the digital darkroom, specifically Adobe Photoshop.
The Magic of Black and White, Part Two – Craft is a 51 page downloadable PDF. The layout has been forced into a landscape format to make viewing on the iPad even better. Using a good PDF reader like GoodReader, these PDF eBooks retain the rich layouts we’ve always created, as well as allowing non-iPad users the same great experience they’ve always had.
Check it out in Goodreader (iPad).
The book covers all aspects of black and white post production.”Black and white photographers have never had it so good. now, instead of printing in a darkroom, i can sit in front of my computer with a cup of tea, listening to my favourite music while i edit my photos. it’s much better.”
Addressing the philosophy and creative vision of Black and White photography this ebook addresses the fundamentals of reading and understanding your image and in doing so educating on how best to use Photoshop (and alternatives) to get the best from your photos. The book covers how to best use textures as well as demonstrating with a number of worked examples.
At only $5 you shouldn’t even have to think twice ! Buy the ebook
eBook Reading Advice
I read the ebook on my Mac and would definitely recommend reading the book as a 2 page spread. In Preview click “View” and then PDF display to activate two page spread. In Acrobat go to: View > Page Display > Two Up. Tick “Show Cover Page During Two Up”.