Reviews

Favorite Books A - Z: Photography by Todd Henson

Some of my favorite photography books, from A to Z.

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. This is at no extra cost to you.

I recently posted lists of my favorite fiction and non-fiction books for each (or almost each) letter of the alphabet. This time around I’m trying to pick a favorite photography book for each letter. This was far more difficult than the other lists because I haven’t read nearly as many photography books. But I did the best I could, and the results are below.


A - Ansel Adams: 400 Photographs

How could I not choose Ansel Adams for A? I, like so many others, have been greatly inspired by his work, and 400 Photographs is a fantastic collection of his images.

 
 

B - Birds of Paradise: Revealing the World’s Most Extraordinary Birds by Tim Laman and Edwin Scholes

This is one of my more recent purchases, so I haven’t actually read the entire book yet. Perhaps that means I’m cheating choosing it for B, but I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read so far, and I love the many photographs of these incredible birds, ones I may never see in person in the wild.

 
 

C - A Camera, Two Kids, and a Camel: My Journey in Photographs by Annie Griffiths Belt

I love this style of book. It contains photographs by Annie Griffiths Belt, but it also contains her story, how she travelled the world with her family, the sights they saw, and the lessons they learned. Great read, even for non-photographers.

 
 

D - Dorothea Lange: Aperture Masters of Photography

Dorothea Lange had to be D. As with Ansel Adams, I find her work very inspiring, even if it’s not a style I tend to shoot, myself. She can tell a story with a photograph better than most, and that’s something we can all learn from.

 
 

E - Edward Steichen: Lives in Photography by Todd Brandow and William Ewing

I really love this book. It’s an excellent representation of Steichen’s work and has some great essays on the man and his life. But I did struggle to choose just one book for E, so I’m going to cheat and also mention Earth is My Witness by Art Wolfe.

 
 

F - Fine Art Nature Photography by Tony Sweet

I like the way Tony Sweet approaches photography, from an artistic perspective I find very appealing. This is a small book that focuses mostly on the photographs. But it’s one I enjoy looking through every so often.

 
 

G - Genesis by Sebastião Salgado

Genesis is such a powerful book full of absolutely stunning black and white photography. I really admire Salgado’s work, and this is just an incredible example of that work. Highly recommended.

 
 

H - Himalaya: Land of the Snow Lion by Andrea Baldeck

Andrea Baldeck takes us to another part of the world and lets us explore the culture, art, nature, and geography of that region through her photography. She tells the story of the people and the place.

 
 

I - Irving Penn: Platinum Prints

Another one of my favorites, the only thing better than this book would be seeing the prints in person. These are excellent reproductions of Penn’s work, showing the incredible tonal ranges he captured in his compositions. Beautiful work.

 
 

J - John Shaw’s Nature Photography Field Guide

This was one of the first nature photography books I purchased, so perhaps I have a soft spot for it. It helps give an overview of many of the different topics relevant to the field, even if some sections do show their age.

 
 

K - Andre Kertesz: Of Paris and New York

I’m cheating a little with this book, as I’m nowhere near finished reading it. But how could I not include Kertesz for K? This book contains a nice sampling of his work and several essays about his life.

 
 

L - The Life of a Photograph by Sam Abell

When I first bought this book I felt a little disappointed, the photographs just didn’t stand out to me. But the more I read and looked through it the more drawn to it I felt, the more the photographs resonated with me, the more I started to really feel like I understood something about them, about the story they were telling. Now I really like The Life of a Photograph.

 
 

M - Michael Kenna: Images of the Seventh Day

This is the first book I’ve purchased of Michael Kenna’s work, and I couldn’t be happier. I find his photography so inspiring, I just love the ethereal feel to some of it. Another highly recommended book.

 
 

N - The New Art of Photographing Nature by Art Wolfe and Martha Hill

I love the way this book is written, with one or more photographs, followed by some text by Art Wolfe from the perspective of the photographer, and then Martha Hill from the perspective of an editor. This adds so much depth to the discussions.

 
 

O - Obscure Destinations by Dan Westfall

I was fortunate to meet Dan Westfall at an art show, which is where I purchased this book. It contains a very nice sampling of his black and white photography.

 
 

P - The Photographer’s Eye by Michael Freeman

Michael Freeman wrote a series of books teaching many photography topics. My favorite of the series is the first book, The Photographer’s Eye.

 
 

Q - . . .

Move on, there’s no Q here today.

R - Reflections of Seoul in Four Seasons by Jodi Cobb

This is a nice picture book of Jodi Cobb’s photographs of Seoul, Korea. I love photography of cultures that differ from my own. It’s a great way to learn more about the world and its people.

 
 

S - Steve McCurry: The Iconic Photographs

I regard this as one of the most incredible books of photography I own. It’s large, so it has impact from that alone. But the photography is just amazing. Steve McCurry has such a great skill at photographing people and conveying story in his photographs. Beautiful book.

 
 

T - Travels to the Edge: A Photo Odyssey by Art Wolfe

I loved Art Wolfe’s television series, Travels to the Edge. This book is a companion to the series, containing many of the photographs talked about during the show, along with some extra background about the travels.

 
 

U - Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson

In my view, this is the classic book on exposure. Bryan Peterson has a way of explaining the topic that just makes sense, or at least it seemed to when I read it. I like his style of writing, and I also enjoy his photography.

 
 

V - The Vision by David Noton

I find David Noton’s writing and photography very inspiring. The Vision is all about starting out with an idea that when mixed with all the required technical know-how and artistry can lead you to that final impactful photograph.

 
 

W - Waiting for the Light by David Noton

Am I cheating again by including two David Noton books in a row? Well, I don’t care. Waiting for the Light is one of my favorite photography books for the beautiful combination of inspiring writing and beautiful photographs. It’s almost lyrical. Anytime I read this book I feel the pull to go out and create, to see the world, breath the early morning mountain air, walk down a path, and explore whatever the world has to offer. And if I haven’t cheated enough already, I’m going to do it again by also mentioning Within the Frame by David duChemin, another favorite book of mine.

 
 

X - . . .

X marks the spot, but that spot ain’t here.

Y - . . .

Y couldn’t I find a book to fill this slot?

Z - . . .

Zzzzzz is what you must be doing after this many missing letters.


Well, I hope you enjoyed reading this list as much as I enjoyed trying to create it. I couldn’t quite finish it, but I was surprised just how many letters I could fill. Have you read any of these books? Do you have favorite photography books that could fill any of my missing letters? Or have you created a list of your own?


Favorite Books A - Z: Non-Fiction by Todd Henson

Some of my favorite books, from A to Z. Missing books were borrowed or read as ebooks.

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. This is at no extra cost to you.

I recently shared a list of favorite fiction books from A to Z, trying to find a book for each letter of the alphabet. This time I tackled non-fiction books, and found it just as challenging to build the list, but also just as fun. Some of these books I read long ago, so it was great pulling them back out and flipping through them again.


A - The Arrow of Time by Peter Coveney and Roger Highfield

Science, astronomy, and astrophysics have always interested me, so we begin the list with several science books, the first of which is about the nature of time and what we know about it.

 
 

B - Black Holes & Time Warps by Kip Thorne

Black holes, wormholes, time warps, all things seemingly possible because of the extreme warping of space. Kip Thorne has been one of the leading black hole researchers and this book is an in-depth coverage of them and other topics. It is an older book, as many of my science books are, but still worth reading.

 
 

C - Cosmos by Carl Sagan

Cosmos is a classic. It’s such a great introductory book to science and the universe around us. I do miss Carl Sagan.

 
 

D - The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Gary Zukav

This is one of my older physics books. I don’t know how well it has aged, but I remember it as a great introduction to what was then a newer topic: quantum physics.

 
 

E - The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene

I’ve read several of Brian Greene’s books, all dealing in one way or another with string theories and the hope they would one day lead to a unified theory of everything. That day seems just as far away, if not further, now than it did when I read the books, but I still enjoyed them.

 
 

F - The Fugitive Game by Jonathan Littman

Another topic that has always interested me is the history of hackers, crackers and phreakers, the people who know how to navigate the world of computer and telecommunications networks, sometimes out of curiosity and sometimes with nefarious goals. The Fugitive Game is one of the books about the pursuit and capture of Kevin Mitnick, at the time one of the FBI’s most wanted hackers.

 
 

G - Ghost in the Wires by Kevin Mitnick

After Kevin Mitnick served his time he became a security consultant and has written a number of books. In Ghost in the Wires he tells his own story of hacking and being on the run. It’s interesting to compare Ghost in the Wires to The Fugitive Game.

 
 

H - The Hot Zone by Richard Preston

The Hot Zone was the first book I was aware of to tell the story of the early outbreaks of ebola, an incredibly infectious and deadly virus that we are finally beginning to come up with treatments against. Fascinating read.

 
 

I - Imagined Worlds by Freeman Dyson

Freeman Dyson is a theoretical physicist and professor who has written a number of fantastic books for non-scientists, one of which is Imagined Worlds. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read of his. If you’re into theoretical physics, or science fiction, you may have heard of Dyson spheres, the idea of an advanced civilization building an immense structure around a star to satisfy its energy needs. It gets its name from Freeman Dyson who wrote a paper about it in 1960.

 
 

J - A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison by James E. Seaver

And now finally a book that has nothing to do with science or technology. I didn’t have one that began with J, but there’s a J in Jemison, so there you go. This is an early American Indian captivity story. Mary Jemison and her family were captured in 1758. Her family was killed and she ended up being adopted by a Seneca family.

 
 

K - Kingpin by Kevin Poulsen

I listened to the audio version of Kingpin, the story of Max Butler and his criminal enterprises. This is another story of computer hackers, interestingly told by Kevin Poulsen, who in his day was also a well know hacker.

 
 

L - The Little Book of Trading by Michael Covel

The Little Book of Trading is an investment book about a number of professionals who use trend following strategies. I felt it was similar in some ways to Market Wizards (see below), but not written in a Q&A fashion. Interesting read if you’re into investing strategies.

 
 

M - Market Wizards by Jack Schwager

I really enjoyed this investing book. It is an older book so some ideas may be a bit dated, but I still feel it’s worth reading. Jack Schwager interviewed a number of successful investors and published these interviews as Q&A. Great insights from some very successful investors in their day.

 
 

N - Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat

You may have seen the movie based on this book. This is Farley Mowat’s story of living among some wolves in the Arctic, studying them up close, trying to learn whether they were the killing machines some feared. This was a beautiful book.

 
 

O - On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

On Writing is almost two books in one. It could be thought of as Stephen King’s autobiography, telling how he got started (and how it almost didn’t work out). But it’s also a book about writing, providing any would be writer invaluable knowledge about King’s writing process.

 
 

P - Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

This is a fascinating book about how we all behave irrationally, and yet do so in very predictable ways. Ariely is a professor of economics who conducted a whole range of experiments to study these topics, and this book is the result.

 
 

Q - Never Quit by Jimmy Settle

I wasn’t able to find any non-fiction books I’d read that start with Q, but this one at least came close. Never Quit is the story of Jimmy Settle’s life, from growing up in Alaska to becoming a PJ (parajumper/pararescue), who flies into enemy territory to rescue downed personnel.

 
 

R - The Rise of Superman by Steven Kotler

This book might be for you if you’re interested in how athletes are sometimes able to achieve such amazing feats, breaking through any resistance, sometimes doing things folks say are impossible until proven wrong.

 
 

S - Sometimes the Magic Works by Terry Brooks

Sometimes the Magic Works is another book about writing, and the lessons learned by one author over their lifetime. In this case the author is Terry Brooks, who’s The Elfstones of Shannara appeared as the letter E in my list of favorite fiction books A-Z.

 
 

T - The Tunnels of Cu Chi by Tom Mangold and John Penycate

The Tunnels of Cu Chi is about a lesser know part of the Vietnam War. It tells of the “Tunnel Rats,” the soldiers who entered the tunnel networks built by the Viet Cong. These were small, cramped, dirt tunnels occupied by enemy soldiers.

 
 

U - The Urban Monk by Pedram Shojai

The Urban Monk is a self-help sort of book trying to bring some Eastern philosophy to the Western world.

 
 

V - Level 4: Virus Hunters of the CDC by Joseph McCormick and Susan Fisher-Hoch

Similar in topic to The Hot Zone, but about more than ebola, this book is written by two of the medical professionals who have spent their lives studying and looking for ways to treat or prevent some of the most contagious and lethal viruses in the world.

 
 

W - A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

A humorous and entertaining tale of Bill Bryson’s attempt to walk the Appalachian Trail. I really enjoyed Bryson’s writing style. Later I watched the movie, and though I enjoyed it, I would more highly recommend the book.

 
 

X - . . .

X may mark the spot, but I can’t find anything there!

Y - You Only Have to be Right Once by Randall Lane

A look at some of the recent tech billionaires and how it took just one great idea at the right time to make their fortune. Looks at some of the people behind companies like Facebook, Dropbox, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, GoPro, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and more.

 
 

Z - Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury is a joy to read, and in this book we get to read about his take on writing. Similar to King’s On Writing, Zen in the Art of Writing has plenty of useful content if you are an aspiring writer, but also shares insights into the life and stories of Ray Bradbury.

 
 

Well, that’s it. What did you think? Have you read any of these? Do you have an A-Z list of your own? If not, give it a try. You might just enjoy looking back on all the books you’ve read.

Stay tuned for more, as I’ll soon be sharing my Favorite Books A-Z of Photography.


National Geographic Complete Birds of North America by Todd Henson

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. This is at no extra cost to you.

National Geographic Complete Birds of North America

National Geographic Complete Birds of North America

National Geographic Complete Birds of North America is one hefty birding resource. I’m not entirely sure what it weighs, but I wouldn’t want to drop it on my foot. It contains over 740 pages and measures approximately 7” x 10” and is about 1 3/4” thick.

You could think of this as a field guide on steroids, or perhaps a small birding encyclopedia. It has a layout and content very similar to most fields guides, but contains more information about each species. Some of the illustrations are smaller than in my Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America, but with much more text about each species, providing descriptions, guides to identification, geographic ranges and variations, similar species, characteristics of voice, status & distribution, and breeding information. It contains maps, photographs, and illustrations.

Pages 200-201 of  National Geographic Complete Birds of North America

Pages 200-201 of National Geographic Complete Birds of North America

Pages 322-323 of  National Geographic Complete Birds of North America

Pages 322-323 of National Geographic Complete Birds of North America

Pages 354-355 of  National Geographic Complete Birds of North America

Pages 354-355 of National Geographic Complete Birds of North America

Many folks these days might not need a resource such as this, what with all the information freely available online. But I’ve always been a bit of a book lover, and I think this book would appeal to those of you who love holding a resource in your hands and flipping through the pages reading about different species. I’ll look up a specific species and end up spending much longer than anticipated flipping through reading about other species.

I have far too many field guides and bird books, but I’m still pleased to have added National Geographic Complete Birds of North America to my library. It’s the sort of large resource you keep at home where you can study and learn at your leisure, then head into the field to seek out first hand what you’d just read about and studied in the book.