I moved beyond point-and-shoot cameras this year and bought a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3, a much more powerful camera, though still a step down from a full DSLR. It is optimized for taking photos in low light conditions, at sunrise and sunset, when the light is the best for landscape and outdoor photography.
But the transition up from a point and shoot camera has not been easy. Aperture priority, shutter priority, ISO, f stops. white balance, step down filters: my eyes glaze over when I read photography books that assume I understand what they mean and how they interact. I’m a more hands-on style learner. I learn by doing and I like to master the basics in bite sized chunks before I get overwhelmed.
Since buying my Lumix, one of my hurdles has been finding a good digital photography reference book. It hasn’t been easy. But when I ordered The Digital Photography Book by Scott Kelby, I quickly realized that I had hit the jackpot.
Each chapter is broken down into a series of one page how-to’s that explain and illustrate beginner, intermediate, and professional digital photography skills. For example, here is a subset of the one page topics covered in the chapter on “Shooting Landscapes like a Pro.”
- The Golden Rule of Landscape Photography – only shoot at dawn and dusk.
- Become Married to Your Tripod – eliminate shake
- Shoot in Aperture Priority Mode – how to keep the foreground in focus but get the background out of focus
- Composing Great Landscape – don’t forget to have a foreground
- The Trick to Shooting Waterfalls – use shutter priority mode with a long exposure
- Where to Put the Horizon Line – don’t put it in the middle
- Getting More interesting Mountain Shots – shoot from an angle that people don’t see everyday
- How to Show Size – add a person to your shot to provide scale
- A Tip for Shooting Forests – don’t have a foreground. Just shoot the tree trunks.
- The Trick to Getting Richer Colors – Use a polarizing filter
- What to Shoot in Bad Weather – shoot foliage after a rain. Shoot the angry sky before a storm.
- Atmosphere is Your Friend – shoot in fog for surreal effects
- Shooting on Cloudy Days – don’t shoot the sky
- Tips for Shooting Panoramas – shoot vertical slices and knit them together in Photoshop
- What to Shoot at Sunset – shoot a silhouette
Other chapters in the book cover: sports photography, wedding photography, how to shoot flowers, travel photos, and portrait photography.
I’m sure there is more to being a great outdoor photographer, but simply understanding these basic functional techniques has proven to be extremely focusing for me and I look forward to mastering them this season.
Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.
Do you have any other digital photography references you’d recommend?
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