banner01 banner02 banner03 banner04 banner05 banner07

A ShortCourse Book
The Wonders of Photography—A Resource for Contemporary Photographers

A Text Book for Digital Era

Dennis Curtin has been writing, editing and publishing photography books for most of his career including the textbook edition of the Life Library of Photography. He also played a central role in the publication of Ansel Adams’ books and the million-copy seller The Joy of Photography. To make this, his latest book, as widely available as possible we are offering it as a $24.95 eText, a price that wouldn’t be possible with a 470 page printed book.

View Cart

Click the link below to download this book description as a PDF that you can read, print or share with others—

Title: The Wonders of Photography—A Resource for Contemporary Photographers
ISBN: 978-1-935763-09-3
Author: Dennis P. Curtin
Pages: 470
Format: PDF eBook
Digital rights management: None
Printing rights: Yes, for personal use
Resale rights: Yes
Price: $24.95
Web site:


It’s unlikely there has ever been a photography book quite like The Wonders of Photography—A Resource for Contemporary Photographers. As one reviewer said “it’s an entire course with everything you need to understand not only the techniques of photography but also its history as a fine art.” It introduces you to how professionals think and work, and explains how well-known photographers used easy to learn techniques to create their own distinctive styles. For example, do you know why Henri Cartier-Bresson used a 50mm lens for street photography while Lee Friedlander and Garry Winogrand used 24mm? Do you know why Diana Arbus captured some of her outdoor images using fill flash or how Ansel Adams captured the amazing exposures he did? Do you know why Joel Meyerowitz carried his camera everywhere he went, even while shopping and going to parties, even though it was a cumbersome 4 x 5 view camera with tripod. In this book you’ll meet these and many other photographers and see how they achieved their own personal styles.

With its many clickable links and guided visits to the Internet and your camera’s user guide, it works best as an eBook in PDF format. However, if you are one of those still committed to the printed page you can print out each section as you study it. You even have the right to have a personal copy printed at a commercial printer.


The book was extensively reviewed by leading photography teachers during its development. Here are just a few of the comments:

  • “The whole book is feature rich. Content is wide and there are 3 or 4 books within this one book—an excellent value and the whole book is very approachable”.
  • “I really do like the way you have incorporated historic and well-known images into the topics. I think this is a much better way than the classical separation of technique from the high history that we have preached for so many years”.
  • “Personally, I like the eText approach and the interactive capability that it brings. Nothing is lost with respect to the visual strength of the book. There’s no fluff in the book—it’s all meat. The chapter-ending sections for additional exploration and testing of understanding are great for higher order thinking and analysis of concepts”.
  • “Overall this resource looks like a nice introduction to basic photography and should serve the beginning student well”!

The following steps take you through the book’s features and show you how it can dramatically improve your photography.


Click to open the book’s front matter. Skim the Contents section to see the list of chapters and topics that cover all aspects of photography. Notice the Creative Technique Finder at the front of the book and how it lists creative issues you may confront and the techniques you can use to solve them. Read the short introduction on how you use it. (There is a free downloadable version of this Creative Technique Finder for your smartphone discussed in Step 7.)

Cover Page Chapter 1 Chapter 2
Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5
Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8
Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11
Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14

Click to open the book’s front matter—


Click the link below the screen grab that follows to download Chapter 4 that discusses why and when you would want to control exposures to make images lighter or darker. As you scroll through the pages in this chapter you’ll see that it, like the other 13 in the book, contains closely related and easy to understand topics you can read in any order you see fit.

  • You can enlarge many of the photos on your eReader to see them in more detail. To do so pinch with your thumb and forefinger to make them smaller and do the opposite to make them larger.
  • Notice how the last two topics are projects and a contemporary artist’s gallery discussed in Steps 4 and 5.


Click to open Chapter 4—


Among the things that make this book so unique are the many integrated activities such as animations, exercises, projects, and questions that bring learning to life in a classroom or self study situation. Using the sample chapter you downloaded in Step 2 read all of the way through any topic and notice how it is divided into the sections described below.

Wonders of Photography Topics

Topic from Chapter 4

  • • An introduction discusses the photographic concept or camera procedure that is the focus of the topic. This discussion is an overview that provides the context and foundation for understanding your own camera.
  • • Tips discuss things that fall outside of the main narrative but which are interesting or important to know. Since so many concepts of photography are interrelated, tips also cross link concepts by referring you to related topics and techniques.
  • • Resources to explore provides links to animations, movies, PDF’s and Web sites that relate to the current topic. specially important are the guided references to finding information on the Internet and in your camera’s user guide. Cross linking the book to your own camera in this way helps you translate general concepts into specific procedures.
  • • Seeing for yourself includes demonstrations of the concept under discussion and guides you from passively reading to actually using your own camera to learn more. Getting better at photography requires practice and that’s one of the things this section is designed to help you with by making it more convenient. In many cases you see how your camera works with it on your lap or by displaying “targets” which are discussed in Step 9.
  • • Checking your understanding asks questions about what you have just learned because it never hurts to check that you understand a discussion.


Projects at the end of each chapter pull together the concepts discussed in the chapter and deepen your understanding of photography, including its history as a fine art. Many of the projects are based on themes inspired by the images, techniques and teachings of great photographers such as Diane Arbus, Dorothea Lange, Garry Winnogrand, Ansel Adams, Eugene Atget, Walker Evans and many others. The discussion of these historic figures will hopefully encourage you to learn more about them, their work and the history and aesthetics of photography.

Wonders of Photography Topics

Projects from Chapter 4.


At the end of many chapters Contemporary Artists’ Galleries introduce you to outstanding photographers who are currently active in the field. Reading these sections give you insight into how other photographers approach their photography and may help you develop your own unique approach. In this sample chapter the featured artist is David Husom. Links in this section take you to the artist’s web page so you can see more of his or her work and learn more about it.

Wonders of Photography Artists

Contemporary Artist Gallery from Chapter 4


The Wonders of Photography—A Resource for Contemporary Photographers explains the principles—the “whys” and “whens” of techniques. Over the next few months we are introducing a series of camera-specific Smartphone Field Guides that provide the “how” by showing you step-by-step how to set your camera to use the techniques you are learning. For example, in the text you learn what a technique such as exposure compensation is used for and when it’s needed. In the accompanying Smartphone Field Guide for your own camera you see step-by-step how to make the settings. Click the link below to download a sample section from one of the coming Smartphone Field Guides. For information on how to load the guide on your smartphone see Step 8.

Canon 5D Mark II Field Guide

Click to open a sample field guide—


In photography you only have to master a few techniques to achieve your desired ends. The book opens with a check list of creative issues you are most likely to encounter, and the techniques you use to solve them. This same check list has been formatted as a PDF file for your smartphone so you always have it with you. Once you choose a technique you can search in the book and your camera’s user guide to find where it’s discussed. For any given issue try all of the techniques and try them in combinations. For example, to reduce blur you can select a faster shutter speed, but increasing the ISO makes even faster speeds available and adding flash adds even faster speeds.

Click the link below to download a smartphone version of The Creative Technique Finder and refer to Step 8 on transferring files to your smartphone.

Pocket Guide

Click to open The Creative Technique Finder—


This book is in a PDF format that can be displayed on almost all computers, smartphones and tablets and automatically scales to fit a device’s screen. You can easily and quickly transfer the eBook and its supplements to any of these devices using an app such as Dropbox. Once there, you can then use one of the app’s menus to open the book in Kno, Adobe Reader, iBooks, Kindle, Evernote and other apps on your device. Each of these apps have their own unique features so refer to their documentation if you are not familiar with them. What you want to know is how to use your app to open PDF documents, display single pages, scroll back and forth through pages, click or tap links, print copies, and add notes and bookmarks.


Click to learn more about Dropbox—


Many of the Seeing for Yourself sections, and a few of the end of chapters Projects, refer you to targets in Appendix A. A target is simply a photo or other illustration that you display on your e-reader to explore the concepts and techniques of photography using your own camera. To see how one works click the link below to open Target 5 and follow the Seeing for Yourself instructions in #4 of Topic 4-1 of the sample chapter you downloaded in Step 2.

Because learning photography isn’t entirely linear, there are a few things you have to learn out of sequence to use the targets. To see how you use any of these procedures refer to the user guide that came with your camera.

You can also complete many See for Yourself activities without using targets. Try those in Topic 4-2. Before doing so you might read the introduction to the topic.


Click to open Target 5—

Home  |  Shortcourses™ Bookstore  |  Curtin's Guide to Digital Cameras and Other Photographic Equipment  |  Using Your Digital Camera  |  Displaying & Sharing Your Digital Photos  |  Digital Photography Workflow  |  Image Sensors, Pixels and Image Sizes   |  Digital Desktop Lighting   |  Hot Topics/ About Us

Site designed by Steve Webster and created by i-Bizware solutions, freelance web development, Anil Dada Warbhe, Website development iBizware Solutions, India.iBizware Solutions, India.