James Vedder Imaging

See deeply in order to better photograph; photograph in order to see more deeply. -JNV dates are upload dates

07 on The Colors of Icebergs

The Colors of Icebergs. Why “The Colors of Icebergs”? Aren’t all icebergs white? Maybe with a bit of blue mixed in?

The answer is that different icebergs can exhibit dominant components of blue, green, yellow or black.*. Color depends on whether there is contained frozen seawater (yes it can freeze in Arctic regions), or minerals from a glacier bottom or the sea bottom, or algae. or the sea bottom, or algae. In particular (or should I say “in particulate”?) an emerald green color can derive from frozen sea water, minerals on the sea bottom, and/or algae. 

Jade Iceberg! : -)An amazing sight!! This 'berg broke off from the bottom of the fjord. See our essay on the color of icebergs.

The iceberg pictured in the Arctic album surfaced dramatically, perhaps 40-50 feet from our small Zodiak inflatable boat.  I heard it, then turned my head and saw it, then felt the turbulence (then of course, began to photograph it).  If if had been significantly larger, its wave could have capsized our little boat (into 32 F water, giving us less than 15 minutes to survive)   Or, if it had come up directly beneath our inflatable, we would have almost surely  met the same fate.  

So it is rare to photograph a green iceberg, and even rarer to witness the birth of one.  We had only a short time for photos as the sun was setting (during 23 hour days) behind mountains just to our southwest.  So, a rare event to witness and to photograph. 


*The NYTimes, May 4, 1993 reports sea captains' puzzlement over various colors for many, many years. The best explanation I found, by far, was on the web in “ABC Science” by Anna Salleh; and a very recent piece in Scientific American, January 5, 2018 

00. About

Some may wonder how it is that I have a great variety of photos from all over the world. Well here's my (short) story:

I am a retired college professor living on a farm in the Finger Lakes region of central New York. Photography has been a serious passion of mine for over 40 years. My journey began when I traveled extensively throughout the world providing technical assistance to projects in developing countries for the US State Department. And, I was able also to visit other interesting places en route.

Over the years I submitted prints of selected photos to various contests and community exhibits, received valuable feedback, and was encouraged by having won a number of "Best of Show" awards. The camera has helped me to 'see better,' to notice people, textures, shapes and details that I might otherwise pass by. However, nothing beats capturing a vision, an image, and sharing that image - and the feeling or mood it invokes - with others such as yourself. Hence this web site. As the various Albums show, the types of images presented vary, from rustic barns and flowers, to people and places. I hope that you enjoy some of these images and that they will invoke in you those emotions that only beauty can convey. JNV

Part 3. Exploring..and Reaching... Your Full Potential in Photography

New Uses for your Photos and New Roles for You.... if you choose them!

What are some main goals/purposes/intents for taking photos? I suppose one answer could be "None - I really don't have or think about uses, I 'just' take photos!" And that is true of most of us at one time or another: we "just take pictures of the child's birthday party" so that the "moment" is captured and can be shared. Right? But capturing an event and sharing it is a purpose - however common and casual it may be.

Perhaps our picture-taking efforts would be better served, be more useful, give more satisfaction, if we did give some thought to aspects like the following, using the birthday example: being sure all attendees are captured...and each while displaying various emotions or playing games or eating cake, or catching their expressions as gifts are opened and so on ....it's not all about "the birthday girl or boy." The thought might creep into your mind "maybe the kids would like a calendar with the  party photos, one for each month'  and so on.

 As another example, maybe you or your kids or a young neighbor wonder "what does a water drop look like when it hits the surface of water? ...or a balloon look like when it explodes?  A humming bird with its wings "stopped"... a lightning strike during a stormy visit to the Grand Canyon, etc.  All these examples fit the category "stopping fast action".  But not all 'things normally unseen' are fast moving.  You can also reveal very tiny things through a microscope, or very large things through a telescope, or capture rays not usually seen- infrared, x-rays, even animal activity in the dark of night....  These are all examples of what we might call the role of Explorer.

 The following Table summarizes a simple grouping of Intents - things you want to do or accomplish, and the type of role you would be playing for each intent choice.

Some Possible intents and Roles for Your Photography

 Now, having different intents does not mean that you continue to take photos the same way, just for different purposes.  Rather, various intents usually modify what you wish to take and in what way.  For example, if you were documenting a civic problem with, say, garbage uncollected or stored in poorly secured landfills, you might decide to emphasize or give most of your efforts to the worst cases (while revealing this bias to consumers of your images.) On the other hand, if you were "documenting" protesters carrying signs on both sides of some issue, as a documenter, you would have an obligation for true balance - taking and posting photos on each side in the same proportions as they were represented at the protest.

  Well, for now we'll let the table serve as a reminder, actually a menu, of different roles and intents you might like to take on... for your next shoot, or for your photo "career."  The choice (and Role) is yours!

These short essays are intended to get readers to think more about a given topic.  I plan to expand and update them a bit in the near future.  JV

3B - Creative Effects Controls

Creative Effects Table.numbers

05- What is Excellence in Photography?

Photography is not, as many think, all about properly setting your focus and zoom and such. In 2017 it is no longer primarily about traditional cameras. Rather, it’s significantly about using images for multiple purposes, such as enjoyment and sharing, as a means of learning to better perceive our world, as a means for self-expression and communication, and so on.

A photo that is well-crafted and meaningful has four characteristics:

1) It makes a clear Connection to the viewer: There is a clear and obvious focal point in the photo: a Subject, a Mood, Puzzle and/or Message. It also:

2) Holds interest, usually by giving the viewer something to search for, think about, be interested in, or simply enjoy…; and is:

3) Unusual/Different/Distinctive: it has something that viewers seldom see. People don't say "Not another one of those,” but “Hey, that’s different;” and finally, the photo is:

4) Technically good: Exposure is good (not too light or dark, given the subject), is in focus/sharp where it should be; and the Light(ing) is appropriate.

In short, the photo: Makes a Connection, Is Interesting, Distinctive, & Technically good.

So it may portray beauty, make us feel an emotion, tell a story, entertain, help us to see something we haven't really seen before or see it in a new way. If it does any of that, then you've got a worthwhile image, with meaning and purpose, that communicates to another human being. What more could you ask? - JNV

Reading About DinosauersOne of my favorite favorites! She is so fascinated by what she is learning, he is just as intent on teaching her... wow, what more could you ask?
Hangman's House.... at the crossroads. Behind the fortress in Salzburg, Austria. Captured on 35mm film using a 440 mm telephoto in the late 1970s.

02- Add More Meaning to Your Photos

What is meant by "meaning" here? One can think of several different “Levels” ["Depths" or "Layers"] to photography. We can use photography to: 1) Copy, 2) Enhance, and 3) Connect/Communicate.

The basic "Copy" level involves trying to capture a subject or scene pretty much the way it looks to the viewer at the time. In this copying mode, the photographer strives to capture colors as they appear, an image that is not too light nor too dark compared to the perceived scene, and so on. At first, this sounds like there's no creativity involved,and for many folks there is none. But in fact there's still a lot of room for variation and creativity... in choosing which subject to shoot, what vantage point(s) to shoot from, what type of lens and focal length to use, how close to get, what's to be included in the image, and how the included subjects will be arranged in the viewfinder ("composition"). Backing up a bit, there were choices as to which camera to bring, where to go, what time of day to be there, and so on.

So even in "Copying", there are lots of choices.   But when these fundamental "setup" parameters are established, copying is fairly straightforward with minor variations among shooters. Now, the goal of capturing a copy of a scene is an imperfect science if for no other reason than because the camera "sees" differently than we do.   Nevertheless,  at the "Copy" level the goal is to capture an "authentic" view of the scene... nothing more, nothing less, and variations among photographers at the same scene will be smaller than for other "Levels,"  if for no other reason than the commonplace use of "automatic" camera settings. There's absolutely nothing wrong with a good copy of a scene. But it is also possible to enhance the scene.

  Enhance - Beyond the goal of copying a subject, the next level is to use photography to "Enhance."  The concept is simple: the photographer wants to add or subtract or in some way, to  change his photographic result in order to "improve" it beyond what a point and shoot picture would offer.  Examples:  Adjust the exposure in order to change the range of light and dark tones, perhaps narrower the range of light & dark tones to "High Key"(mostly light values), or "Low Key" (darker values).  Colors may be made more vivid (saturated) , either because it was a dull day or because the photographer wants to "boost" the reds and oranges in a Fall scene or to deepen the blues of the sky... or, when the situation warrants, convert what is a color scene  to black and white in the print, perhaps to bring out the subject's form and texture..   Still another example of Enhancement is found in many treatises on portrait photography: soften the  light in a portrait in order to reduce or remove what some may consider to be 'blemishes,' and/or make the the focal point the eyes, even if other features are not crisp, in order t emphasize them ...and so on.

 Connect -  Beyond wanting to Copy or Enhance, there's a third broad category: to  "Connect."   The idea here is to go beyond producing an image, whether enhanced or not, to communicate a message of some kind to others, such as a story, mood, puzzle, message, feeling, an emotion.... well, it's your choice!

  Ask yourself: what am I trying to do or be in this particular shot, or even as a general style for your photography?  Of course, you can mix them up - one shot could be "just" the usual capture photo; in the next you might wish to enhance some aspects of the subject and/or communicate a feeling.

. So when you are shooting something,  anything, ask yourself what you might do differently if you were to shift from "Copy mode" to "Enhance mode" or "Connect" mode.   Are there aspects of subject or scene at that moment or in general the world around you  that you would like to emphasize, and/or share with or tell to or surprise others? 

 If, as we described in Essay #1, you begin to see more and to see more deeply, then you are ready for exploring and using  photography's different modes.  Then your photos will have more variety, more meaning, and you will be communicating to others your perceptions, insights, values and personality....

    Next: Essay #3. Exploring further your full Potential

3 - Creative Effects and How to Control Them

In previous essays we have talked about photography being more than simply “taking” pictures; about your learning to see better, seeing potential in scenes and subjects, seeing not just whole objects but discerning the characteristics of a subject or scene that add meaning to photos— enhancing the subject or scene, about better connecting and communicating with viewers… This third essay provides concepts that show more about how to do just that. The concept is simple: For a scene or subject that you wish to photograph, there are

1) Creative Effects you may wish to try (for example blurring a waterfall, stopping sports action, adding light to a scene, etc); but in order to achieve those creative effects, you need to know what the effects are and

2) their Determinants: factors or variables that will bring about those creative effects, and finally 

3) the Creative Controls you have, mostly on your modern DSLR or Mirrorless camera that will alter the Determinants and provide your best chance of achieving the Creative Effects that you want. In what follows we discuss the main categories in each of these three, then show in one sheet a summary of all that’s covered: 

                               Creative Effects ⇐ Determinants ⇐ Creative Controls 

 Before you can use items in the array of creative effects, plus understand their determinants and then use various ways to control them, you must become familiar with your camera’s information screens. You don't need to know “everything.”  Following are the most important things you should learn to access. 

 1) the exposure histogram (exposure graph) allowing you to see at a glance whether your upcoming image will capture all the scene’s blacks and whites, and then after the shot is taken will show if you indeed did capture them to your liking. Some cameras have “blinkies,” pulsing areas of color which show on an image any areas where shadows and highlights are “blocked” i.e. cannot show any detail. You do not want a white wedding dress to lack form and texture. 

 2) Can you see your current settings for Aperture, Shutter speed and ISO (sensor-sensitivity)? These three are the main ‘levers’ we use to achieve all the artistic controls, so you must know what their values are and how to change them. Manual mode (“M”) gives you control over all three. 

 3) A lot of Creative Effects depend upon the Focal Length of your lens(es); It is best if you have “prime” lenses (having a single focal length) and/or ’telephoto’ ‘zoom’ lenses that span, for a full frame 35mm camera, a wide (somewhere between 18 & 35mm), a “normal” length (around 50mm) and a telephoto of anywhere from 150mm to 300mm. [If you use a crop-sensor camera [APS-C] the corresponding mm would be about 2/3 these values. OK if you have prerequisites 1)-3), we're ready for understanding and using

  Creative Effects, their Determinants and associated Creative Controls,                                                 [We provide a summary table at the end]

CREATIVE EFFECTS Creative Effects are elements professional and other artistic photographers bring to their shots. They do so in order to produce photos that attract attention, are interesting, display a desired array of light values, use appropriate focusing etc.,… You can control creative elements so that your photos will reflect your personality, show what attracted you to the shot in the first place, and convey to others [and remind yourself] the elements and emotions you would like to be felt. Not “snapshots” but creative and artistic communication! To go beyond “taking snapshots.” You can develop 1 or 2 creative effects for any capture that are appropriate to the shot and which have your stamp of individuality and personality. In what follows, as with a restaurant menu, you don’t need to take everything on the menu, but you need to know what creative options are available to you and how to access and use them! The Creative Effects involve five areas: Composition, Light, Exposure, Focus and Color. We take a look at each.

COMPOSITION - involves the picture ‘frame’: you decide what is the subject of the photo, how large is the scope of what is captured what shape the frame is [portrait, landscape, square, oval]….how the included elements are distributed within the scene…what will attract a viewer to the photo, hold their interest, have emotional impact… etc. Composition is an important source of creativity and artistry when the subject is “given.” But there are many forms of photography where you can exert significant, even total control over the subject: flower or other still-life arrangements, portraits, table-top still life photos, etc. 

 LIGHT/LIGHTING -Thus involves the quality, intensity, and direction of light on the subject or scene. [Michael Freeman in his book “Capturing Light” - (see Bibliography)- identifies more than 50 categories of light and lighting situations!]      Light can come from different directions relative to the subject or your camera, be strong or weak, sharp or diffuse, colored in various ways, and so on. Besides direct light, there are reflections (on water, windows, eyeglasses….) to include, reduce or exclude… While this light is sometimes “given” you have more control than you probably think, if you are willing and able to change it! One can add light, even a penlight, to vegetation surrounding a photo of the Milky Way, for example, or return to a scene at another time, for example at dawn etc.

 EXPOSURE -The lightness/ darkness of the captured image can be made “independent of” the scene itself. Besides the general "level" of light, there's its “Dynamic Range”: the range of whites and blacks to be presented, in other words, you can decide what lights and darks are captured or clipped:

 A) Full Dynamic Range: the exposure curve [from black to white] spans an entire light-to-dark range with- out clipping whites or blacks. Or, if you wish, create an image that does not cover the entire range but is:

 B) “High key” favors light values, with no or few darks

 C) “Low key” favors dark values, with no or few whites. 

 D) “Clipping” means the camera is not capturing certain light values; for example excluding some brighter whites, or blacks obscuring some shadow detail that you believe should be revealed. Remember that we are speaking here of your resultant image, not the scene itself.

 E) It is often desirable when we are uncertain about exposure to "bracket exposures": besides your “best guess’ exposure. add one shot (or more) with higher exposure, another with lower. 


 A) The scene/subject contains motion: a moving subject (a running/flying animal, a waterfall etc); or other scene elements that move (clouds, trees in wind, people, auto traffic, etc.) 

 B) Other motion that you would like in the scene, e.g. a race car or sports figure: subject 'still', background “moving.”

 FOCUS Sharpness or creative blur; besides creative motion blur above (or lack thereof), there is creative focus: In the following diagrams (professionally developed with no  thought given to cost) 

" ⚗"represents the camera, |————| the depth of field “

  Depth of Field” (DOF) is the range before you that will be in Focus; DOF can be 

 A) “Deep” or “Shallow,” ⚗ |—————|    vs       ⚗ |—| 

 B) “Near” or “Far” ⚗ |——————-|        vs        ⚗ . . . . . . |—————| 

 C) “Tack sharp” or slightly soft [sometimes portraits of ladies are deliberately softened],     In terms of backgrounds, with portraits, you might want a to have a blurry, non-distracting background, but want a landscape to be sharp from close foreground rocks to the distant mountains… 

 COLOR  I personally shoot everything in color (even when I expect the output to be in black and white), and set my camera so that its images are at least 24-bit colcc and in RAW so that I have complete control over color temperature and other variables in post-shot editing. But you can “correct” or creatively alter color by altering the color controls on your camera. 

  Well, those are examples of some basic Creative Effects. Now let’s look at the Determinants of these creative characteristics and how you can Control them.

Essays - Part 1:  Photography is More than Taking Pictures of Things!

Lesson 1: Learning to see and learning what you can see.

The great teachers and performers in photography usually agree that the biggest barrier to good photos is not the camera or lens used, not your settings like ISO and f/ stop, etc. The greatest barrier to good photos is ...not seeing... or not seeing well. More precisely, it is not seeing and not visualizing the kind of photo output you are trying to create. The "superficial looker," the 'Superficial Photographer,' is one who simply photographs objects. That building, those flowers, Aunt Martha, the waterfall, and so on. "Well, isn't that what photography is? What more is there?" - A whole lot more, it turns out.

The Excellent Photographer - most professionals, the contest winners and the like - sees things beyond or in addition to the subject as a unit. There are two main levels: First, when he or she sees objects in their field of view, they see them not as a bunch of flowers or a building etc, but are aware also of surrounding objects, arranged like dancers on a stage with a backdrop, lighting and the rest. [As an aside, where the Ordinary Photographer takes 10 shots of nearly the same thing, the Excellent Photographer considers multiple options - different combinations and arrangements, and usually captures several different versions - the bast of these.] The Expert's thinking is: "I'm going to consider a variety of options: just the bunch of flowers,... a single flower ...or several groupings choreographed as groups of 3, or 5... having the flowers the foreground in a wide-angle shot or up real close with a "macro" shot... What viewpoint or vantage will produce the best arrangements.. should I get high/low, close/far?" Is this the best light in terms of softness, angle and direction (maybe a later time today or earlier time tomorrow would be better.)

These sorts of questions also help the pro to formulate A) what should be included or excluded, and B) How should the included items be "arranged"? An analogy: Who should the characters in the play be and what should be their relationships?.  [Aside: in some situations we have almost complete control over the arrangement - as in moving flowers or persons in a group photo.  Other times our powers are limited - a landscape or sunset....  But even in those situations, we have some control over close-up or far, wide or narrow, the center of attention high or low; include foreground objects or not; use those branches as a frame; visible or in silhouette?  blur the background or sharp...]

   So, once the "pro" has a scene and vantage al set, the arrangement, the composition, they're ready to go, right?   No. Sorry.  There's another set of questions, another set of choices which sometimes may be even more important than the first:

 "What are the subject's characteristics"?   How can I capture what it's all about to the best of my ability? The characteristics might be color and texture in flowers.  Or shape and size and grain in rock formations, patterns in clouds...  Or, the glint in Aunt Martha's eyes, or the reflection of your nephew in those eyes, (neither of which which you're going to capture at 25 feet).  In other words, consider not just the subject as a whole, but the subject in its detail, its "personality," its character.

   A special additional case occurs when the scene involves motion: clouds, waterfalls, waves or rivulettes, or children or... whatever, things moving. Sometimes the pro feels it is better to freeze the wave or waterfall or cloud so that we can gaze at the shape and texture we never see with the naked eye.   Other times, a silky flow fits the composition best...  In addition, a few minutes or moments in time can make all the difference - in sporting events or even sunsets.

  Now these choices of 1) inclusion and arrangement, 2)  of featuring various attributes, and of 3) "stopping time" or not  are usually sufficient when the photo is itself the goal of the shot.  Well, in photography isn't that always the case?

  No, the photo may NOT be the end purpose!  Sometimes the photo is to serve as a catalyst for a greater cause - to show environmental destruction or living conditions, for example.   Another possibility  is to present an image that has artistic merit, where the overriding purpose is to create beauty or mystery or...whatever the photographer visualizes as art.

  So, begin to see as a professional,  as a visual  artist sees and consider:

1) what is to be included or excluded?

 2) how will the things included  be arranged and what will be the backdrop? 

  3) what attributes give the subject is unique "personality'?: form, shape, texture, structure, color or other identifying attributes (delicacy of a flower, sturdiness of a rock formation...) and so on. 

  4) in dynamic situations - water, clouds, trees in wind - how will you treat motion: blur it, freeze it or record it?

  To cover these four dimensions, you must look beyond the object as a whole and begin seeing these types of attributes. How might you train yourself to do this?  How do you practice seeing at this 'level'?

 One way is by doing art - sketching, watercolors, even trying to do art - is a great aid to develop your ability to see, to know what to look for.  I don't care if you are bad or good at it or "not an artist"! -  Do the following exercises anyway:

Training in Seeing-1: Look at any scene and, without looking back, try to sketch or paint as much of the scene as you can from memory.  Oh, oh!  You don't remember the relative sizes or placement of things, do you?; or exactly the shape of the central subject; or the various shades of green in the trees, and so on. Aha! Neither do many other people!

What's worse, we fool ourselves into thinking that we are seeing: we glance at something and quickly name and identify it: "That, that's a rose; oh, and over there is an old barn..." "Yeah, that's Yosemite Falls all right."  and so on, as though we are done, as though we really saw.  The process is not helped by the fact that when we do look at something - without moving our eyes around - only a tiny portion in the center is in focus; everything else is blurred.  (OK, you don't believe me; pick a spot in the room where you are and stare at it; without moving your eyes, what is in focus, and what is not?? Answer: a very small percentage of your field of view is in focus... yet, we think we "saw something."

Many great photos and ones that you like, have captured or contrasted shapes, textures, shadows, contrasts (big with little, red with yellow or green) and so on, whether we are conscious of it or not.  

Practice registering what you observe - look, then look away- and when you do look away, sketch or paint or if you can't do that, make a list of what you saw. Humiliating, isn't it?  But do this little exercise now and again, and you will become more and more observant, see many things you never noticed before and.... you will become a better photographer!

Training in Seeing - 2: Look at a book of photographs, or look at photos in an album, or on a photo web site.  Some photos you pass over, some you may like.  What's the difference?  Think back on the process: what's different for the one that attracted, that interest you?  You will become more aware of characteristics that matter to you, and more sensitive to your seeing.

 Training in Seeing -3 What 'causes' are you interested in, including educational projects?  The environment? Animal habitat? Conservation?...  What sorts of photos or photo assemblies could help illustrate or stimulate in others to act on behalf of your interest or cause?

With these types of training, you'll soon be more aware of what's already there! You'll learn more about yourself and your likes and dislikes, an you'll begin to notice the "Characteristics That Count," and begin to find ways of capturing them - what kind and time of light?  Which direction?  Near or far? Blurred or sharp? In Color or Black & White?  and so on. 

  In summary, at the First Level, there's the whole subject.   The Second Level involves the attributes or characteristics of the subject.   

  X But be aware of them,  perhaps your photos would enhance the subject's "story."

  One more thing, there's a potential message and meaning in the connection of the "local" subject of your photo to the universal: your mountain's watershed connects with others in the range; the climate cycle which affects all living things into the future.  Is there a way to connect to all that?  Yes.  

So work on  how you can see your subject in a totally new way.  Don't just think "mountain" or Aunt Minnie; Rather, think light, shadow; texture, shape, and so on. Then add the "meaning" or "message" or "feeling" of a subject, past, present, future.  And  at least consider the holistic view... that everything relates to our world and to every other object and force. Now, that's a tough one for most people, so here is a reading on the topic:  Gross, Philippe and S.I. Shapiro: Tao of Photography, Seeing Beyond Seeing: Berkley: Ten Speed Press, 2001.] Their book brings the attitude of "Tao" ["Dow"] to photography. The Tao attitude helps the photographer break away from the restrictions and fragmentations of traditional judgments and rules. A most unusual and rewarding book (that includes great photos and enlightening poetry!) 

As you begin to "see better", you can build on these concepts, and begin to 'put yourself' into your photos [NO, I don't mean taking selfies; I mean having your photos reflect what you care about, or see as beautiful, or what moves you....]  

That capability is next in Essay: # 2. How to Add More Meaning to Your Photos.   As I write this in early 2017, we plan to follow with #3. Exploring...and Reaching... Your Full potential,  #4. What IS 'Excellence' in Photography?";  #5.   How You Can Achieve Excellence and Meaning Consistently in Your Photos ! What can you control? And, finally, #6 Continued Learning- a Useful Bibliography of Sources  about the what, why and how of photography -   Jim Vedder

Part 6 - Continuing Learning - Some Sources to Extend and Deepen Your Knowledge Base

Selected Books and Web-based Sources

Don't stop learning. When a person begins to think that they know it all, or that they know "enough," ..... that's when they begin to wither.

 This listing includes items of a practical how-to nature, a half-dozen at least on what we could call a why-to nature ... (some philosophy-of-photography discussions),... technical (but accessible) works on areas like depth of field and equipment testing,  a couple on special situations like macro-photography, dim light work, and even one on photography projects.  Don't forget other types of books by the Masters - Adams, Karsh,.... from whom we can all continue to learn.  Enjoy....Grow... and Fulfill. 


Ang, Tom: Digital Photography Masterclass: Advanced Photographic Techniques for Creating Perfect Pictures; DK, 2013. Despite the word "Advanced" in the subtitle, this book is quite accessible. And, he covers everything!. Each section has an image analysis, where an image is shown, some areas for improvement in it are identified (helping readers to "see" better), with remedies explained along with their results. Besides exposure, it covers composition, & lighting and has discussions/ examples of travel, portrait, documentary, landscape, nature/wildlife photography, sports, architecture and fine art photography. "Advanced," yet very accessible and insightful for all photographers. This guy is good!

Barnbaum, Bruce: The Essence of Photography - Seeing and Creativity Rocky Nook.com, 2015. Barnbaum is recognized as one of the world's finest photographers. But he doesn't "just" take wonderful photos: he knows what he's doing and why. He says: "Achieving a great photograph requires thought and preparation, an understanding of the photographic process and a firm grasp of how light and composition affect a photo [and the viewer]." So, he's a Left Brain Guy? Wait: he encourages us to look inward and examine our own passions and motivations. More than 182 pages of insights and wisdoms. Sub-title: Seeing and Creativity

Barnbaum, Bruce: The Art of Photography - An Approach to Personal Expression Rocky Nook edition; 9th printing [2016 ISBN978-1-933952-68-0]. Wonderful book for photographers at all levels. Although the book has chapters on techniques for both traditional film and digital eras, I believe his main contribution is on discussing the expressive, philosophical and creative dimensions of photography. Just listen to these sections: Finding your groove; Your interests and your imagery; Finding inspiration…; The heart of intuition and creativity; and Breaking the rules and following yours. Sub-title: An approach to personal expression. Amen.

 Busch, David D. & Rob Sheppard: Your Photos Stink! .... lessons in elevating your photographs from awful to awesome: Cengage Learning PTR, 2015. Busch has written dozens of guidebooks on how to get best use out of many different models of cameras (and sold over 2 million copies!). But in this volume, he and Rob sharpen your eyes via their examples of photos by using a critical analysis of how the photos could be or could have been improved. Not only do they cover the "expected" topics: creative cropping, improved exposure, getting closer to your subject, but a few unusual: "Capturing the Spirits of People and Animals," "Visualizing in Black & White," and "Effective Lens FX." The book includes photos by more than 40 photographers.

 duChemin, David: The Visual Toolbox: 60 Lessons for Stronger Photographs; New Riders, 2015; the author argues that fancy equipment - cameras and lenses and filters...- are not enough to make you a better photographer. What will? You must understand your camera thoroughly; see and think differently; critically study the works of others (as well as your own); and take thousands and thousands of photos... trial and error. Besides "thinking" things through, you must develop passion, patience, imagination, curiosity, .... and a refusal to follow "The Rules." [In a similar vein, see the book by Gross and Shapiro] 

 Freeman, Michael: The Photographer's Eye: Composition and design for Better Digital Photos; Focal Press, 2007. Mr. Freeman has written a number of books on photography, including this one and the next two. Emphasis here is on composition, but he includes Intent, and all sections will aid the reader's "seeing" by making her or him much more sensitive to surroundings.

 Freeman, Michael: Capturing Light: The Heart of Photography; Focal Press 2013. The centerpiece of this book is, as you see from the subtitle, Light: waiting for it, chasing it, helping it. Perceiving and capturing all kinds of light - soft, wet, gray, sun light, window light, spotlight, filtered, storm light, and many, many more. In photography, you should fully understand light, because that/s what we are really capturing! 

 Freeman, Michael: The Complete Guide to Night & Lowlight Photography; this is about a special situation: low light is not only "low" in amount, but of a different color temperature, quality of shadow, and requires 'larger' light capture (higher ISO and/or slower shutter speed and/or wider aperture, and/or "faster" [wider aperture] lenses - usually prime [i.e. not zoom]), with consequent issues of blur, noise, need for tripod and so on. Talk about situations! Applicable to what many consider to be the best light: light that occurs at dusk and dawn. 

Gross, Philippe and S.I. Shapiro: Tao of Photography, Seeing Beyond Seeing: Berkley: Ten Speed Press, 2001.] This book brings the attitude of "Tao" ["Dow"] to photography. The Tao attitude helps the photographer break away from the restrictions and fragmentations of traditional judgments and rules. A most unusual and rewarding book (that includes great photos and enlightening poetry!) This book ties nicely to duChemin's book, above. 

Kelby, Scott and Matt Kloskowski: The Photoshop Elements 13 Book for Digital Photographers; New Riders Publishers, 2015. [There are books as well on later versions PSE 14 and 15;  I believe that version  15 is the last software version to be produced, and it is not known how long there will be support, fixes etc or how-to books like this one.    Scott is a Training Director for the Adobe Photoshop Seminars and has published numerous books on Photoshop products, writing in a very accessible style. So, a 'rare animal': an accessible expert!  The coverage of this book is complete for after-the-capture activities, covering the management of photos already taken, all aspects of photo editing and manipulation though fixing common problems, and printing. 

 Larson, Elsie, and Emma Chapman: A Beautiful Mess: 95 inspiring ideas for photographing your friends, your world and yourself; Amphoto Books/ Crown Publishing, 2013. Coverage includes pre- and post-capture: How to capture your favorite people and pets in creative ways; add backdrops and props; use beautiful lighting;...capture yourself;....show off your photos in invitations, locket, storybooks, fridge magnets, .... coasters... and on and on.... A fun, but useful, book that has great illustrations and is fun to read.

Learning about  Lens & Other Equipmen Quality: see


 and magazines e.g. Popular Photography; Occasional paperbacks such as: PhotoPlus: "The Ultimate Canon SLR Handbook" with videodisk, Barnes & Noble, about $29.

 See "MagBook" on Close-up Photography. MagBooks: "The Essential Guide to Close-up Photography, Volume 2" edited by Daniel Lezano, Peterborough, England. As the title indicates, this book-ette is about Close-Up photography, what it is, how to do it, close-up equipment evaluations, and more than two dozen "Expert Tutorials" in photographing water droplets, flowers, insects, bubbles and on and on. Throughout, issues of lighting and solutions. Good stuff. 

 There are related volumes from MagBooks, such as "50 Photo Projects, 2nd edition" (148pp, $15) with indoor, outdoor, lighting, creative and Photoshop projects. 

 Nightingale, David: "Extreme Exposure: Pushing the Limit of Aperture and Shutter Speed for High-Impact Photography"; New York: Ilex Press but published in the US by Amphoto Books, 2010. David covers both ultra-long and ultra-short shutter speeds, as well as ultra-wide and -short apertures and, of course, the situations in which these extreme settings are necessary. 

Piper, David: The Illustrated History of Art..."; London: Bounty Books, 2000. Mr. Piper illustrates (with over 2,000 photos) art history from the Ancient World, Medieval and Early Renaissance through the 16th century [Michelangelo, da Vinci et al], the Baroque [Rubens & Rembrandt et al], Eastern Art, the Age of Revolutions [1789-1917: Goya, Constable...], and art since 1917 [Surrealism, Cubism etc] including works of Turner, Pollack, Francis Bacon and Andrew Wyeth. [I am proud to have an Andrew Wyeth egg-tempera print hanging in our home.] What’s this art book doing in an essay on photography? Simple, it’s all to do with seeing and representing what you see, in many, many ways. Can’t hurt, can help. 

 Sartore, Joel: Fundamentals of Photography - Course Guidebook; The Great Courses, 2012. Most people know that the National Geographic employs only the very best photographers in the world. Mr. Sartore is one of them, a regular contributor to National Geographic, and is a National Geographic Fellow. He has taken photographs from the arctic to the Antarctic, on all 7 continents and all 50 states. He often documents endangered species, and in fact has published another book: RARE: Portraits of America's Endangered Species. Fundamentals of Photography is exactly that, a book of fundamentals - necessary equipment, focal length, shutter speeds, depth of field, light, color, and other technical aspects, along with "Seeing Well" and "Telling a Story with Pictures...", but written by a true and accomplished expert. 

 Sholik, Stan: "Shoot Macro: Techniques for Photography Up Close"; Buffalo NY: Amherst Media, 2014. Covers five dozen situations and procedures in the field of close-up and macro photography. He covers, among other topics, extending close-up focus via focus stacking, light-source setups, Smartphone photography, lenses, focusing, and examples from bugs and coins to Wetting to increase color saturation, Concise and practical [each topic succinctly spans 2 pages]. 

 In your fave bookstore (where you can turn some pages), look at the works of renown photographers such as  Ansel Adams, Henri Carter-Bresson, Yousuf Karsh, Margaret Bourke-White, Imogen Cunningham, Philippe Halsman and so on, but also greats you may have not heard about - Steve McCurry took one of the most famous contemporary photographs “The Afghan Girl” which appeared in National Geographic. [In my view it is her haunting eyes that make this photo one of the greats] 

 Selected Web Sources: Photo Projects: 52 Projects, one a week: http://www.digitalcameraworld.com/2015/01/06/52-photography-projects-a-photo-idea-try-every-week-2015/ 

 Common problems and how to solve them: http://www.digitalcameraworld.com/2012/05/04/99-common-photography-problems-and-how-to-solve-them/ 

Depth of Field: About: http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/depth-of-field.htm Depth of Field Calculator: http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/dof-calculator.htm Exercises to make you a better photographer: http://www.digitalcameraworld.com/2014/04/19/7-daily-exercises-that-will-make-you-a-better-photographer/ 

 Filters - what are they, how to use them http://www.digitalcameraworld.com/2015/07/02/11-important-photography-filters-and-when-theyll-improve-your-images-cheat-sheet/ 

 How to use your digital camera: http://www.digitalcameraworld.com/2012/05/16/digital-cameras-what-the-manual-doesnt-teach-you/ 

 How to use the iPhone Camera: http://ipod.about.com/od/introductiontotheiphone/qt/Using-The-Iphone-Camera.htm 

 Macro (super close) photography: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macro_photography 

 Macro (super close) photography: http://www.dpmag.com/gear/lenses/intro-to-macro 

 Manual Focus - Why you need it, How to use it: http://www.digitalcameraworld.com/2012/05/03/manual-focus-what-you-need-to-know-to-get-sharp-images/ 

 Megapixels: How many do you need?: http://connect.dpreview.com/post/1313669123/how-many-megapixels 

 Middle Gray exposure standard: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_gray National Geographic Photos access: http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/ National Geographic Photography Tips: http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photo-tips/ Shutter speed/ motion blur or freeze: http://www.infotor.com/blog/shutter-priority-for-action-freezing-creating-blur/ Still life photography: http://photography.tutsplus.com/tutorials/10-tips-to-get-started-with-still-life-photography--photo-8278 

 Taking photos in fog, mist or haze: http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/fog-photography.htmy

Finally, all these sources may have you considering new equipment.  How do you go about screening and choosing equipment.  Well, consider Camera and Lens tests for your equipment or your intended purchases or gifts: Google "Camera" and "Lens" reviews and choose, from among the results, reputable sources including these: dpreview, dxomark, CNET, photo.net, photographylife, and a guy named Ken Rockwell who is very knowledgeable (and opinionated) and truthful.  When this broad search comes up with particular cameras and lens models, re-search these including the works 'review' or 'test'. 

Well, this listing should keep you busy.....  and growing in knowledge!   JNV