Scott Kelby’s The Digital Photography Book

If you already know the basics of exposure, white balance, aperture, shutter speed and the like, but want to glean some wonderful insights about becoming a better photographer and have about 90 minutes and $20 to spare, I’d be hard-pressed to think of a more efficient way than reading Scott Kelby’s The Digital Photography Book published by Peachpi Press. Eileen picked this gem up for me at an Orlando Banes & Noble before CTIA and I finished it tonight.

Scott, who now is to Photoshop magazines what Leo Laporte is to podca– (sorry, Leo), netcasts, is a longtime Mac geek. Like others who gained fans writing for Mac publications such as David Pogue and Andy Inhatko, he imbues his tech writing with humor. He comes at the book from the angle that he and you are out on a shoot and he’s giving you advice as if you were any other friend.

I’m not sure if the book lives up to that level of familiarity, but the format is nonetheless refreshing and I commend Scott on selling Peachpit the concept. The book also reflects Scott’s finely honed aesthetics and, while he refers to many pros throughout the book, some of his own included photos are gorgeous.

Each page is a concise snapshot, if you will, of a different kind of photography scenario. And even though whole chapters didn’t pertain to me (I have no plans to become a wedding photographer or shell out Scott’s recommended $30,ooo in gear to become a professional sports photographer), the tips on shooting landscapes, wildlife, children and the like are more than worth the price of the book, and I didn’t mind the bias toward photographers who may be thinking of starting to sell their work. In fact, it’s been the most enjoyable book on digital photography I’ve read but, as a former computer book author, I have a few nitpicks:

  • I found most of Scott’s jokes funny, but the beginning is a little “schticky”. The chapter introduction on spouses crossed over into time-wasting.
  • Given the familiarity assumed with photographic jargon, I wouldn’t classify it, as Peachpit does, as a beginner’s book. Indeed, the book has a little badge noting that it’s great “for point and shoot owners, too” but don’t even bother unless you have at least an advanced compact.
  • Scott lays out an icon system at the beginning of the book for how expensive certain gear recommendations are, but hardly uses it. Don’t expect the incessant sidebars in a “For Dummies”book.

Still, this is a valuable, quick read, and I highly recommend it especially to any newbie to the world of DSLRs.

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