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Scott Kelby isn’t very funny. Just as well the rest of his book’s good

My quest for a decent digital SLR book took me to Borders at the weekend where, after a bit of swearing – “all these books are thirty quid and written in gibberish!” – I found something that (a) looked decent and (b) wasn’t thirty quid: The Digital Photography Book, by Scott Kelby. And it’s very good, provided you skip the chapter intros which try far too hard to be funny and which fail miserably.

Everything else, though, is excellent. As Scott explains:

If you and I were out on a shoot, and you asked me, ‘Hey, how do I get this flower to be in focus, but I want the background out of focus!’ I wouldn’t stand there and give you a lecture about aperture, exposure, and depth of field. In real life, I’d just say, ‘Get out your telephoto lens, set your f/stop to f/2.8, focus on the flower, and fire away.’ You d say, ‘OK,’ and you’d get the shot. That’s what this book is all about.

And that’s exactly what I need. If you want lots of theory, it isn’t the book for you. If you want an idiot’s guide that doesn’t talk to you as if you really are an idiot, it’s well worth £13-ish.

Are my photos any better? Nope – but at least now I know why. And I’m fighting the urge to buy a zoom lens and a tripod.

4 replies on “Scott Kelby isn’t very funny. Just as well the rest of his book’s good”

ISBN-10: 032147404X?

Looks promising. I might get that as well to get more out of my camera and see what better ways there are to deal with difficult light situations.

That’s the one, yeah. I thought it was very good – for example there’s a whole chapter on weddings, which included loads of things I wouldn’t have thought about.

Well, I’ll do the indignant old fart bit then.

What?? No theory about aperture and depth of field? Just “do this and you’ll get this”? What happens when you want to do something dear Scott hasn’t thought of, and he hasn’t given you the tools to work it out for yourself? Well I never. I mean, back in the day we had to make our own apertures from hammered-flat tin cans and a rusty nail, none of this fancy “turn the dial to f 2.8” business. You young ‘uns don’t know how easy you have it. And don’t get me started on hand-loading old movie film in pitch dark into used canisters to save on the cost of film… (That last bit is actually true, btw!)

Heh. That’s what the majority of photo books I’ve looked at were like – fine if you want that kind of thing (and Scott’s book recommends a few for people who want to know more) but it’s a bit like picking up a beginner’s guide to OS X and having to endure 100 pages on the physics of microchips, 100 pages on how to make processors from sand and 3 pages on how to actually use your Mac :)

I think what was missing from most of the books I looked at (and believe me, I looked at a lot) was validation. Here I am, having dropped £500 on a camera, and I’m thinking that I’m too stupid to use it. What I needed was someone to say “wow, buying an SLR was a brilliant idea – check this out! And this! And this! Look at what you can achieve when you’ve no idea of what you’re doing and you don’t know your aperture from your elbow!” before moving on to the serious stuff.

Too many of the books wanted me to pay £30 so they could tell me I was an arse. And maybe I am, but thanks to the internet I can get people to tell me that for free :)

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