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August 15, 2014 12:13 PM   Subscribe

46 Photography eBooks to download for free. Among the free resources compiled by LS are National Geographic‘s “Ultimate Field Guide to Photography,” Strobist‘s “Lighting 101,” Adorama‘s “Guide to Lighting” and many many more.
posted by spock (12 comments total) 99 users marked this as a favorite
Awesome find, thanks!
posted by Renoroc at 12:52 PM on August 15, 2014

Fantastic. Passing this on to a friend with far more skill than me.
posted by arcticseal at 12:58 PM on August 15, 2014

I suppose this would be an ideal time to figure out how to use the "DownThemAll" add-on...
posted by nevercalm at 2:18 PM on August 15, 2014

Here's an Archive.org thread on how to use the "DownThemAll" add-on.

Short answer:
  1. Highlight all the files you want to download (left click and hold over the first title and then drag down to bottom). They should all be highlighted now.
  2. Right click, look for down them all, then
  3. Left click and you get a window with ALL the formats. Check the files you want to download.
  4. Click download and your on your way.
I don't have it installed here to verify that's the exact order of operations, but it sounds pretty spot-on.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:29 PM on August 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

You are my new hero, filthy light thief. That did it.
posted by nevercalm at 2:33 PM on August 15, 2014

I should add that it works without the highlighting, you can just right-click (ctrl-click, I'm on a mac), choose down them all. At the bottom of the next screen is an arrow that says "Filters." Open that and choose your file type.
posted by nevercalm at 2:35 PM on August 15, 2014

Some of the links (like the ones from PhotoShelter and www.free-ebooks.net, for example) require an extra step or two that probably won't work with the DownloadThemAll option.
posted by spock at 2:40 PM on August 15, 2014

Or, you can just download the zip file from the LH site that contains all but two, I think.
posted by me & my monkey at 3:39 PM on August 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

spock is right. The first book I tried, required my email address and promised to send the PDF by email. No thanks. The second book I tried was just an sample of a couple of chapters from an ebook you had to buy. No thanks. I tried the zip file:

Sorry, you can't view or download this file at this time.

Too many users have viewed or downloaded this file recently. Please try accessing the file again later.

The hell with this. If you want to learn photography, buy this Time-Life Library of Photography, you can find sets for $20, they printed millions of them. It is printed in glorious gravure, with the highest quality printing method available at the time. This dates from the 1970s and predates digital, but you deserve to see these great photographs printed at a quality that is almost as good as silver prints.

Or better yet, buy Ansel Adams' Zone System books, The Camera, The Negative, and The Print. Even in today's digital world, if you only ever read one photography book, I would recommend The Negative. This book is not really about negatives, it's about recording light.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:30 PM on August 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Charlie, I believe you forgot to say "Get off my lawn!".

Seriously, those are certainly fine recommendations, but they don't negate getting some inspiration or information from other (and more recent) sources. Also, personally, I *have* those sets you recommended, but they are hard to view with my phone or tablet.

PS... set up a free email account somewhere (like Gmail) and use IT exclusively for anything that requires an email address when you don't want to use your "real" email address.
posted by spock at 9:50 PM on August 15, 2014

Charlie, I believe you forgot to say "Get off my lawn!".

Actually, I am saying quite the opposite. Here's a quote from Ansel Adams via the wikipedia Zone System page:

The Zone System has often been thought to apply only to certain materials, such as black-and-white sheet film and black-and-white photographic prints. Adams (1981, xii) suggested that when new materials become available, the Zone System is adapted rather than discarded. He anticipated the digital age, stating

"I believe the electronic image will be the next major advance. Such systems will have their own inherent and inescapable structural characteristics, and the artist and functional practitioner will again strive to comprehend and control them."

I learned the Zone System from an old 1950s edition of The Negative and it had the crappiest printing I ever saw, the photographic examples were very difficult to analyze. But it was the single most important book I ever studied. I did the whole Zone System negative processing thing, including adjusting development times to achieve the contrast range I wanted for a specific scene. I bought a densitometer for my enlarger, to make "perfect prints" with maximal dynamic range. This was the most crucial knowledge for my transition to digital prepress, it was a huge advantage, especially when manipulating the histogram in Photoshop using Curves. Every digital photographer ought to know this stuff. I have showed photographers how to optimize the histogram while shooting, it's easy since most cameras can show the histogram of a shot. And they were shocked at how big a difference it made, and that nobody ever told them about it before.

So what I am essentially saying is that these "modern" photo books are mostly just reinventing the wheel. Sure, lots of the material in these books were genuine discoveries by the authors, who could have discovered it a lot faster by looking at the monumental archive of photographic information accumulated over the decades. There are lots of good learning materials online, but it is always good to go back to the original, particularly if it is as outstanding as Ansel Adams' work.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:58 AM on August 16, 2014

The Ansel Adams trilogy is great, but it is indeed rather "Get off my lawn!" to imply that since we have it, nobody should write any more camera books for another half-century.

This list of 46 seems to be a mixed batch but definitely worth looking through. My favorite source for photography ebooks is Craft & Vision. They aren't free, but the prices are quite reasonable and they often have sales. Most of the books I've bought, I've paid between three and eight dollars.
posted by cribcage at 9:33 AM on August 16, 2014

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