Review: The Joy of Digital Photography

While browsing the library for a good book on photography, I stumbled upon The Joy of Digital Photography. It was one of the newest books the library had on digital photography, so I figured it was worth a try.

The Joy of Digital Photography can be divided into 3 main sections; general orientation & the basics of photography, composition & design, and finally digital editing. The first few chapters cover the basics of photography. The book starts off with the obligatory “digital camera orientation” chapter, explaining about megapixel count, resolution, different types of digital cameras, and various camera accessories like tripods, monopods, external flashes and bags. The next few sections address the basics of photography; exposure, depth of field, shutter speed, aperture, ISO and white balance.

After the basics of photography, the focus of the book shifts to design and composition. Some of the design basics include horizon placement within the photo, how to frame the image, and how to add depth to an image.  An entire chapter is dedicated to light, explaining how the direction and quality of light will affect images. The next two chapters cover two broad photographic subjects; people (weddings, children, groups, sports, travel, etc.)  and nature (mainly landscapes, animals and weather).

Finally, the last chapters focus on the digital aspect of digital photography. Two chapters explain the basics on digital photo editing (cropping, leveling, sharpening, cleaning up scanned images). The final chapter focuses on how to set up your digital darkroom; discussing computer options, organizing your digital library, what to look for in a scanner, and how to decide on photo paper.

As a whole, I really liked this book. I found it to be accessible to those just starting out in digital photography, while still being relevant to those with some digital photography experience. One thing that I really liked was that the author made no assumptions about the reader or the gear they might be using. While Tom Ang’s How to Photograph Absolutely Everything covered a broad range of photographic subjects,  Ang assumes the reader is using a simple point and shoot digital camera. The recommended camera settings for various subjects are generally given in terms of which semi-automatic camera scene mode to use, with little explanation of why one setting was chosen over another. If the reader has a more advanced camera, or hopes to delve into anything beyond automatic or a pre-selected camera scene mode, they are pretty much on their own. With The Joy of Digital Photography, there is perhaps a slightly smaller range of photographic subjects covered, but the depth of information on design, composition and digital editing more than makes up for that. Overall, I think this is an excellent digital photgraphy reference book; it covers a full spectrum of topics without confusing new photographers or speaking down to more experienced photographers.