Updated May 10, 2023
Offered here are links to various resources that might be of interest to ESF readers. Links are provided for information only; no endorsements are intended for any businesses or services listed. This page will be updated monthly.
Offers an eclectic mix of reviews, tutorials, and thought pieces. I particularly like the “5 Frames with…” posts.
Cambridge in Colour
A great photography reference and educational site with everything from DoF calculators to tutorials on specific topics. A wonderful resource
Wonderful writing and gear reviews
Great tutorials on a wide variety of topics
Great source of film news and information
Shoot It with Film
Nice design and helpful tutorials
Eclectic mix of images and information.
Down the Road
Jim Grey’s blog is full of great stories. It’s like visiting a friend.
Good site for film and gear reviews
Earlier posts are film, more recent digital-focused
Book Review Posts
Mastering Film Photography: Finding the Right Books
Flower Photography Books—Exactly What I Needed
Cracking Composition: My Favorite Books and References
A Few Film Photography Books: Reviews and Recommendations
20 Composition Techniques That Will Improve Your Photos, Barry Carroll (PetaPixel)
28 Composition Ideas to Help You Take Better Photographs, Barry Carroll, (PetaPixel)
35 Photography Composition Rules, (Photolemur)
Darkroom Skills and Techniques
Sroyon’s Darkroom Printing Guide
Exposures: Comparing Film Stocks (color only) (Let There Be Film)
Experiment 1: Exposure Testing 11 Film Stocks (James Madison Photography)
The Guide to 100-Speed Black and White Films (The Phoblographer)
An Ultimate Guide to Every B&W ISO 400 35mm Film on the Market, (PetaPixel)
Find Your Film: Stock and Exposure Comparisons (Color) (Richard Photo Lab)
Every Thing You Wanted to Know about Auto (Thyristor) Flash Photography…But Were Afraid to Ask
Off-Camera Flash Photography for Beginners
How to Photograph Red Roses (Temecula Valley Rose Society)
Reverse-Lens Macro Photography
The Ultimate Macro Photography Tutorial for Beginners
The Ultimate Guide to Extension Tubes (Shutter Muse)
Exposure Photography Guide (Tutorial) (PhotoPills)
Tresidder J. Mastering Composition and Light , Kodak Library of Creative Photography, 1985
Miotke J. Better Photo Basics: The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Taking Photos Like the Pros, 2010.
I like this book. It has an introductory section that discusses general principles followed by a series of exercises. It also has beautiful example images.
Tharp B, Manwaring J. Extraordinary Everyday Photography, 2012.
This book is a large format paperback with great images. Unfortunately, compared to the other books listed here, it is short on content. It needs many more examples and more focused tutorials. I bought it used online, so could not see the contents before purchasing.
Peterson B. Bryan Peterson’s Understanding Composition Field Guide. 2012.
Learning composition rules and applying them are two very different things. This book offers good advice and plenty of examples.
Silber M. The Secrets to Creating Amazing Photos: 83 Composition Tools From the Masters, 2018
There are plenty of pictures to illustrate the composition principles discussed. This is not as common as it should be. A simple, easy to follow book!
Garvey-Williams R. Mastering Composition: The Definitive Guide for Photographers, 2019.
I have a few books on composition. All are pretty good, and this is one of the better ones. The book itself is beautiful from cover to cover, which is one reason to recommend it. Examples are good and offer starting points for one’s own explorations. This may be my favorite book on the topic.
Mason RG. The Print, Life Library of Photography, 1977.
Like other books in this series, The Print provides a wonderful historical overview before moving into detailed information on developing and printing negatives. The section on darkroom printing and techniques gives a fascinating look at creative printing techniques and tricks before Photoshop. If you are into film, get this!
Tresidder J. Print Your Own Pictures, Kodak Library of Creative Photography, 1985
I took a darkroom course and learned basic printing techniques. I wish I had this book then. I am now in the early stages of planning for a home darkroom. Wonderful book!
Anchell S. The Darkroom Cookbook: Fourth Edition, 2016.
I bought this book when I still had access to a darkroom. It is loaded with developer recipes, providing all the info needed to experiment endlessly. Well, the pandemic ended my darkroom time, and I now use Cinestill Monobath exclusively. Maybe one of the days, though…
Film Photography Reference
I had a hard time deciding how to classify these books. I settled on reference because, although each contains instructional content, they excel at providing detailed information for film photographers.
Williams RL. Light and Film, Life Library of Photography, 1977.
This book is difficult to classify. It covers topics from wet plates to film emulsions and in between adds in light meters and lighting. It contains a masterful historical guide to imaging making and useful practical information. A wonderful, fascinating read for the film enthusiast.
Hedgecoe J. Complete Guide to Photography, 1991
This is a great guide foe film photography! It discusses the nuances and quirks of film better then any other general photography book I have read. There are many tips and techniques with examples.
Wildi E. The Medium Format Advantage, 1995
Finally, a book about medium format photography that discusses more than camera models and how to develop film. It offers detailed discussions of lenses, metering, and other typical topics. One thing I really like is the book makes frequent comparisons to 35mm while explaining why medium format might work better. The discussions of focal length and how it affects images is particularly helpful. Coming from 35mm, it is not intuitive to someone learning photography that a 120mm lens on a 6×4.5 and one on a 35mm camera are not the same. In a time when digital cameras have 40MP and larger sensors, medium format may not seem to be as important. However, after comparing my 35mm images to my 6×6 and 6×4.5, it is clear why medium format was the preferred studio format.
Hedgecoe J. The Photographer’s Handbook, 1996
The author states: “This book is designed to explain the full scope of photography.” If it doesn’t, then it comes close—at least for film. There is an encyclopedia feel to it. The entries provide more detail than I expected. In addition, there is a very good glossary. Need the meaning of an obscure photography term, technique, or process? It’s probably in here. Great book.
Hicks R, Schultz F. Medium and Large Format Photography: Moving Beyond 35mm for Better Pictures, 2001.
I was hoping for a book on techniques, style and composition. What I got was a book about cameras, lenses, and other gear. The book is not bad, just not what I hoped for. It certainly did not tell me anything about taking pictures I had not already read somewhere else. On the bright side, I now have a light reference for medium and large format gear.
Freeman J. How to Take Great Photographs with a Film Camera, 2015.
This is a decent book, offering useful tips. However, the sections on film, film cameras, and developing film seem too brief. The other books in this section strike me as being more useful.
Marquardt C, Andrea M. The Film Photography Handbook: Rediscovering Photography in 35mm, Medium, and Large Format, 2019
A photography book that focuses on film!!! YES!!! I was so happy to find this book. It is a modern introduction to EVERY aspect of film photography. If you are new to photography and film, buy this book first.
Williams RL. The Art of Photography, Life Library of Photography, 1971.
The Life Library of Photography volumes are exceptional in their historical coverage, quality of writing, and images. Surprisingly, they also often include excellent practical advice. This volume is a gem, offering precisely the kind of introduction to the artistic tradition in photography that I was seeking!
Garrett J. The Art of Black and White Photography, 2003.
I’ve become wary of buying photography books online. Although I have found some gems, there have been a few major disappointments, so the book was a pleasant surprise. It goes over the usual topics, exposure, composition, themes but adds practical commentary about each image. There are plenty of images, and some examples consist of two or more of the same image with commentary on what makes one better than the other. At times, it feels more like a conversation with a mentor rather than a book. I’ll keep this one close by.
Garrett J. Mastering Black and White Photography: A Unique Case Study Approach to Achieving Professional Results, 2005.I have become a fan of John Garrett. He explains concepts well with helpful examples. In this book, he goes a step further with detailed case studies that describe the goals, decisions, and steps that led to an image. He also shows examples of what happened when he made a different choice. This book comes closest to what it’s like having an instructor than any other book I have read with the exception of Lighting for Sill Life, by Bavister. Highly recommended.
Sweet T. Fine Art Flower Photography: Creative Techniques and the Art of Observation, 2005. First of all, these are film images, something that is not easy to find these days. Images are generally one per page with commentary that includes lens and exposure information along with an explanation of how he created the image. Nice.
Williams RL. Photographing Nature, Life Library of Photography, 1971.
Overall, this is an excellent guide to techniques for landscapes, underwater, macro, and wildlife photography. The images are beautiful and helpful. The macrophotography section is my favorite section. It provides an in-depth discussion on using bellows, lighting, magnification, and adapting rangefinders and TLRs for macro work. Nice!
Adams I. The Art of Garden Photography, 2005.
There is plenty of good technical information in this book as well as beautiful pictures, so for these reasons I recommend it. However, at times it is too wordy. Sometimes it is a photography how-to guide and at others, an homage to gardens.
Benson M. The Photographic Garden: Mastering the Art of Digital Garden Photography, 2012.
Perhaps it’s the subject matter–gardening books tend toward wordiness. Like the Adams book, getting to the technical information requires going through a lot of prose. The beautiful images make it worthwhile.
Davis H. Photographing Flowers: Exploring Macro Worlds with Harold Davis, 2016.
This book has more “how-to” information than any other flower photography book I have come across. It has lots of beautiful images along with technical information on how they were shot. Yes!
Jones A. The Garden Photography Workshop: Tips and Techniques for Capturing Your Garden, 2017.
This book is about gardening as much as it is about photography. By gardening, I mean more formal gardens, and also, little space is dedicated to photographing flowers as opposed to garden grounds and homes. If you live on a grand estate and wish to photograph your garden, this book is for you.
History of Photography
Hirsch R. Seizing the Light: A History of Photography, 2000.
Just the book to answer questions about the evolution of photography technically, aesthetically, and philosophically. This is an academic work–you have been warned.
Ang T. Photography: The Definitive Visual History, 2014.
Loaded with sidebars, images, and excellent writing, this text is a great addition to a photography library. The book is divided into eight sections based on periods going from 1825-2012. Excellent!!!
Pritchard M. A History of Photography in 50 Cameras, 2014.
Though this book contains interesting information about a wide range of cameras, the choices for more in-depth exposition strike me as arbitrary. For example, the author briefly mentions the Minolta XD11 as the first camera that offered shutter and aperture priority; however, he chooses the Canon A-1 to discuss more fully because it had a higher degree of computerization. Why??? Making matters worse, he completely ignores the world’s first body-integral autofocus camera, the Minolta Maxxum 7000. What??? How can the Maxxum 7000 be left out of a book about the history of cameras? Count me offended…
Wade J. Retro Cameras: The Collector’s Guide to Vintage Film Photography, 2018.
This is not a comprehensive guide, but it contains more information on vintage cameras than I have seen anywhere else. Brief, but good.
Martineau P. Still Life in Photography, 2010.
A collection of still life images from the Getty Museum. Many images, few words but covers still life photography over the decades acceptably. Worth a look to get a historical view of the form.
Claxton W. Jazz Images, 2018.
I find jazz to be soothing, inspiring, and contemplative–a way to step back from it all. Despite my love of the music, I have little familiarity with the artists. The most famous I recognize, but many whose music I enjoy are unfamiliar by sight. Thanks the this book by Claxton, I am putting faces to names and tunes. Being able to make those associations would be sufficient to justify the cost of the book. However, the images in this collection are more than helpful; they are beautiful and artistic to the point that I would love to frame a few. If you are jazz lover, buy this book.
Hicks R, Schultz F. The Black and White Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Monochrome Techniques, 1997.
Over the last three years, I have gathered books to help me in my photography journey. Most have been serviceable, and a few very useful. Hicks and Schultz have written a book that excels in providing technical info dedicated to black and white photography. Other books provided similar info, but not as well adapted to black and white. Published in 1997, this book still has film uppermost in mind, and that, along with the authors’ experience adds to the utility of the book. Try to find one if black and white is your thing.
London B, Upton J. Photography, Sixth Edition, 1998.
Love this book. It is a great blend of theory and practical advice. It covers everything from the finer points of film emulsions to developing film and making prints. I have read it cover to cover and will do so again.
Guy NK. The Lens: A Practical Guide for the Creative Photographer, 2012
This book offers an in-depth review of every aspect of camera lenses. It also provides a glossary of manufacturer-specifc terms that can help you decipher the acronyms on lens barrels. If you collect lenses, you need this book.
Gatcum C. Mastering Film Photography: The Definitive Guide for Photographers, 2019.
Film must be back if I can find two new books specifically aimed at film photography. This book offers a very polished presentation with great images and a very readable format. It is actually helpful, covering all the basics well, and I particularly like the chapter on filters. If you just bought your first film camera, this book is a great introduction to help you get started.
Perry H. National Geographic Complete Photo Guide: How to Take Better Pictures, 2021.
Colorful and likely useful for those just starting out. It is loaded with beautiful images and encourages readers by offering assignments that reinforce the readings. It goes beyond the “How to” of many similar books, and covers photography history and specialty areas of photography. It also includes a section on smartphone photography for those without a standalone camera. Full of helpful information.
Hawkins B, Kanaeva-Hunsicker L. Shooting Film: Everything You Need to Know About Analogue Photography, 2022.
I was given a review copy of this book. Overall, it is a good introduction to film photography, covering the usual topics: metering, lighting, developing, etc. It is a visual text with many excellent image examples. The most compelling aspects of the book are the author’s description of her journey in the field and discussions of her favorite cameras. The text also includes a listing of key resources for film photographers, which I found helpful.
Peterson B. Understanding Close-up Photography: Creative Close Encounters With or Without a Macro Lens, 2009.
This book has beautiful images. However, I do not find the instructional content to be that helpful. For my beginner-level needs, I require more detail and step-by-step guidance. Perhaps your experience will be different.
Hope T. Still Life: Developing Style in Creative Photography, 2001
The content is not what I expected. I was hoping for more of a guide/tutorial book. It does cover the topic, but does so using examples from current photographers. For each example, the photographer describes what they did and why, which I did not find at all useful. I’m glad I bought this used.
Busselle B. Better Picture Guide to Still Life and Close-Up Photography, 1999
Overall, this is a pretty good book. That said, the print styles used are irritating, as if the book is shouting at me. There are plenty of examples, and they are explained well. If the book had normal print, it would be 50% better.
Mitchell MD. The Art of American Still Life: Audubon to Warhol, 2015.
Art, especially Impressionism, is a significant inspiration for me in my pursuit of photography. Books like this allow me to learn by looking at paintings and drawing on centuries of experience and insight. It illustrates how factors such as reflections, light, and view angles shape an image. As someone aspiring to create fine art still life photographs, it is an essential education resource.
Aihong L. The Beginner’s Still Life Photography Guide, 2019.
Having a good mix of technical information and example images, this is a book I like and can recommend. The initial technical section alone makes the book worth buying. The example images vary in quality from “so what?” to “very nice!” If you are interested in still life, definitely take a look at this book.
Studio and Lighting
Williams RL. The Studio, Life Library of Photography, 1971.
I did not know what to expect from this volume. What I hoped for was a discussion of studio work from the perspective of film. What it actually contains is a fascinating historical overview of the studio long with masterful examples of studio techniques and images. It addresses darkroom techniques as well. The book has a literary bent and makes for great reading.
Perweiler G. Secrets of Studio Still Life, 1984.
Another great book with detailed diagrams for studio shots. The images are predominantly product-focused but the information can be applied to any still life set-up. This is very much a how-to book, and even better, it is for film cameras! I like it!
Tresidder J. Set Up Your Home Studio, Kodak Library of Creative Photography, 1985
This book has been very useful in helping to learn the terminology and basics of studio lighting. Using it and a few other books, I have been able to put together a basic still life studio. A good book for absolute beginners.
Bavister S. Lighting for Sill Life, 2001
This book is the BEST guide to lighting for still life photography I have encountered. It provides detailed, step-by-step examples for multiple scenarios. If you want to do studio still lifes, buy this book!
Tuck K. Minimalist Lighting: Professional Techniques for Studio Photography, 2009.
I have plenty of studio lighting books, and so I was very reluctant to buy another. However, the reviews I read convinced me this was something different. They were right. This book has a lot of prose relative to pictures, which I first thought was a negative. However, the prose offers practical guidance that goes far beyond my other books. Reading the book, I got the feeling of following the author around the studio as he went about his daily routine. I like the emphasis on accomplishing image goals with readily available tools instead of expensive professional gear. A definite keeper!
Arena S. Lighting for Digital Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots, 2013
Of all the lighting-related books I have, this comes closest to being an actual, step-by-step tutorial. The other shows diagrams with equipment lists, ages, and such. And while these are all helpful, the approach taken in this book is far more detailed and informative. Definitely worth the price!
Schaefer JP. How to use the Zone System for Fine B&W Photography, 1983.
Schaefer covers everything from camera types to filters to darkroom techniques. It contains plenty of practical advice and useful examples with little in the way of frills or fluff.
Farzad B. The Confused Photograph’s Guide to Photographic Exposure and the Simplified Zone System, 2007.
This is a textbook with extensive charts, tables, and examples, and exercises. If you really, really want to understand the zone system, this is your book. Of course, you could read Ansel Adams’ book, which to me is a little is less practical and more intellectual.
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