Garry Black Photography

Tips and Techniques

Recommended Books for Canadian Photographers

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Quite often I am asked to recommend books on photography. Since I have no intentions of writing an instructional photography book in the near future, the next best thing that I can do is recommend books that I have read and feel that you would benefit from reading as well. It's not exactly "Oprah's Book Club", but if you're interested in photography these books will inspire and teach you, and have you reaching for your camera and a few rolls of film.

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Photographing Creative Landscapes: Simple Tools for Artistic Images and Enhanced Creativity, By Michael Orton - Have you ever heard of the "Orton" technique? Some photographers call it slide montages, whatever the name this is book that will inspire and teach you this technique, plus many more creative techniques and artistic approaches to photographing the world around you. This book is number one on my list of "must have" books.

Nature Photography Hotspots: Where to Find Them, When They're at Their Best, How to Approach Them. By Tim Fitzharris - Material in this book covers destinations in North America and Africa.

National Geographic's Guide to Wildlife Watching: 100 of the Best Places in America to See Animals in Their Natural Habitats. Currently out of print, limited availability.

AAA National Park Photography By Tim Fitzharris - Covers 21 of the US National Parks. Advice on specific locations, ideal times and professional techniques. Each park accompanied by a detailed map, showing the best photo spots.

Nature photography: National Audubon Society Guide By Tim Fitzharris - This instructional book provides information that covers all the basic technical aspects of photography, as well as chapters on picture design and close-ups, wildlife, nature and landscape photography.

Learning to See Creatively by Bryan F. Peterson - Out of print, limited availability. Unlike many instructional books that only show perfect compositions, this book offers examples and techniques through pictures of the same subject taken with a "different point of view". Bryan illustrates what is right and wrong with the pictures and what can be done to improve upon the images, and how to do it.

Understanding Exposure by Bryan F. Peterson - This is by far and away the best book ever written on exposure and camera settings. If you are new to photography or only have a limited understanding of exposure this book will definitely shed light on the operation of your camera's controls. This is the book that I recommend all beginners should study.

John Shaw's Nature Photography Field Guide - This book will help you understand the basics of exposure and all other technical aspects of photography. Of all of John Shaw's books this is the one that I would recommend that you buy first.

John Shaw's Landscape Photography - I would recommend that this be the next book of John Shaw's that you buy. It compliments his "Field Guide" book with additional information on the technical issues (the tools of photography) and artistic approach to photographing the landscape.

John Shaw's Closeups in Nature - I first became aware of John Shaw through his stunning closeup photography. In this book he shares his technical expertise on Macro photography. He provides many examples of his techniques, explaining them in a simple and easy to understand manner.

Photography for the Joy of It by Freeman Patterson - I don't think you can go wrong with any of Freeman's books. I've placed them in the order that I would recommend that you buy and read them. (If memory serves me correctly, I think it's also the order that he wrote them in.) Freeman isn't big on teaching the technical side of photography, you can get that information from John Shaw's and Tim Fitzharris’ books. You should have the basic technical skills under your belt before reading any of Freeman's books. It is then that you will truly benefit and enjoy them. Freeman's explanation of exposure is perhaps one of the best that I have ever read, but where he excels is in his approach to visual design. This was one of the first books that I read when I was learning the craft of photography. I thought, "This is incredible, all my questions are being answered, everything was falling into place". He makes it sound so simple and easy that you'll be out shooting and making better images in no time at all!

Photography of Natural Things by Freeman Patterson - This book provides instruction on techniques and offers guidelines for photographing nature in a personal and interpretative approach.

Photo Impressionism and the Subjective Image by Freeman Patterson and Andre Gallant - If I had to choose between this book and Michael Orton's book "Photographing Creative Landscapes" I'd choose Orton's book. It's much more informative and beneficial for developing a more artistic approach to photography.

Designing a Photograph: Visual Techniques for Making Your Photographs Work by Bill Smith - This is not a technical book on photography, but rather a book that will teach you the process of visual design. It instructs in a way that enables you to learn about designing picture space and to use this information in creating your own images.

Perception & Imaging by Richard D. Zakia - An excellent book that studies perception and psychology and how it relates to photographic images. Not a technical "How-to-Book" but rather a book on why we respond to images the way we do. You can use this information to effectively express your feelings, thoughts and emotions in your own images.

Galen Rowell's Inner Game of Outdoor Photography - This is another not "How-to-Book", no technical fundamentals are covered here. The book is basically a compilation more or less of Rowell's articles from "Outdoor Photographer" magazine. He discusses his own philosophical approaches to outdoor photography. Tragically Galen and his wife Barbara were killed in a light plane crash on Aug. 11/02.

Galen Rowell's Vision: The Art of Adventure Photography - The text, is based on 60 essays of Rowell's monthly column for "Outdoor Photographer" magazine. It is accompanied by images, which are chosen to illustrate the concepts he is discussing.

The Art of Photographing Nature by Art Wolfe & Martha Hill - I'd recommend this book for novice photographers. This is a book uses comparison photographs of the same subject some that worked well and others that didn't work as well. The different perspective of the two authors (photographer and photography editor) and the related discussion is very helpful in understanding the difference between a good image and a great one.

Nightwatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe by Terence Dickinson - Not a photography book - This book is widely regarded as the essential guidebook for beginning stargazers. If you buy this book for no other reason than to help you find the North Star, so that you can take images of Star Trails, then it'll be worth your money.

Delorme Atlas & Gazetteers - These are not photography books, but they are the most useful books that I use for my photography. Since I prefer to take the road less traveled, with these Atlas' at least I know where I'm going. There are Atlas' & Gazetteers for each of the 50 states; unfortunately they don't have any for the Canadian Provinces. Each Atlas contains topographic maps with unbeatable detail showing every back road and side road.

Abode Photoshop 7.0 for Photographers... by Martin Evening

Photoshop 7 Artistry: Mastering the Digital Image by Barry Haynes

Adobe Photoshop 7.0 Studio Techniques... by Ben Willmore

Real World Adobe Photoshop 7 by David Blatner, Bruce Fraser


When traveling and photographing around North America, Valerie and I camp. It's not the same type of camping that I did 25 years ago. Then I camped with a tent and a sleeping bag, now we in a 28 ft. fifth wheel trailer which also has a slide out dining room. It also has air conditioning, a furnace, stove, microwave, TV - VCR, full bathroom, queen size bed and a sofa in the living room. Now before you get to critical, remember that when we're on the "road" we live in our trailer for 3 to 4 months at a time and we don't have satellite TV.

As a landscape/nature photographer there are many advantages to "camping" over staying in hotels/motels. One of the main advantages of camping is the location of the campgrounds, they're never in cities! The following guides will help you choose a campground that will be close to the areas where you'll be photographing.

2002 Trailer Life Directory: Campgrounds, RV Parks, and Services. Provides information about campgrounds in all 50 States and the 12 Provinces in Canada. If you are only going to get one book on campgrounds, this is the one to get.

Once you've been camping for a while you soon realize that there are some types of campgrounds that you prefer to stay at and there are other types that you want to avoid. We prefer campgrounds that are quiet, well maintained and in scenic locations. The following "Unofficial Guides" provide the best reviews (totally unbiased) on campgrounds. Each book costs about the same as 1 night's camping, and I can tell you from our experience that with these books you will avoid spending any time in undesirable campgrounds. They're well worth the money.

The Unofficial Guide to the Best Rv and & Tent Campgrounds in Florida & the Southeast features candid reviews and ratings of over 350 campgrounds in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Frommers Unofficial Guide to the Best Rv and Tent Campgrounds in the Mid-Atlantic States: features candid reviews and ratings of over 350 campgrounds in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Unofficial Guide to the Best Rv and Tent Campgrounds in the Northeast: features candid reviews and ratings of over 350 campgrounds in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Unofficial Guide to the Best Rv & Tent Campgrounds: California and the West features candid reviews and ratings of over 350 campgrounds in Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah.

Frommers Unofficial Guide to the Best Rv and Tent Campgrounds in Northwest & Central Plains: features candid reviews and ratings of over 350 campgrounds in Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, Wyoming, and British Columbia.


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