Photo Book Review: Photo Nuts and Bolts by Neil Creek

Photo_Nuts_and_Bolts_CoverKnow Your Camera and Take Better Photos

Here is my photo book review of the first book in Neil Creek’s great photo book series, “Photo Nuts and…” currently with four titles:

What a great start to this fascinating series of books.

Did you know that 73% of digital camera owners wish they had more control over their camera? Well Neil Creek’s great series of “photo Nuts and…” books is the place to get the answers you need to, indeed, “take control” of your camera and your photography. This, “Photo Nuts and Bolts,” the first of the series, is definitely aimed at the beginning photographer, but it also has a lot of really good information that’s a great, “refresher” on a lot of the basics that those of us with a few more years behind the camera have been known to forget. And sometimes, our photographs show that we have forgotten some of these basics. That means whether we are pupils or pros, this is a great book to have on your photography electronic book shelf to learn from and refer back to and keep fresh – as it is now on mine.


The book is divided into 10 basic “Lessons” that show you how to take the control you want over your camera… even when using it on full automatic. Each lesson is short and easy to understand, and shows you how a basic photographic fundamental will put you on the path to better photos… the photos you want that say what you want them to say, and that you will be proud to show to friends and family. And some of the lessons include simple, but effective, animations to clarify the point being made. (Note: on some “slower” computers, some of these animations may make pages slower to load, but they are worth the slightly longer wait to, “turn the page.”)

  • Lesson 1 – Light and the Pinhole Camera
  • Lesson 2 – Lenses and Focus
  • Lesson 3 – Lenses, Light and Magnification
  • Lesson 4 – Exposure and Stops
  • Lesson 5 – Aperture
  • Lesson 6 – Shutter
  • Lesson 7 – ISO
  • Lesson 8 – The Light Meter
  • Lesson 9 – White Balance
  • Lesson 10 – Metering Modes and Exposure Compensation

Neil caps these enlightening chapters with a useful appendix and glossary.

There might be those who think this book is, “too much information.” I don’t. It’s all great information, well presented and worth both knowing, and refreshing.

Each of the lessons nicely builds on the previous lesson to give us a complete “picture” of the photographic (photo = light, graph = writing – writing with light) process. When you have finished, you will have the basics, or you will have refreshed your outlook, and most likely given yourself new perspective to renew your photographic experience.

I have a couple of favorite chapters.

Lesson 9 on White Balance. White balance is SO much easier now compared to before when we had to select the right film and then maybe add filters to get it right. When I take photos in my church, unless it is after dark, we always have a challenging light situation with bright daylight coming in the windows mixed with tungsten light, and it’s always tough to get it right. Neil talks about using your camera’s RAW file setting (this is normally only available on Digital SLR, DSLR, cameras, not on simpler, “point and shoot” type cameras). I’ll never forget the first time I played with a RAW file in Canon’s editor that is included with their cameras – I’m sure other manufacturers have similar companion software tools. Using their eyedropper tool, I clicked on something in one of my church photos I knew was white and et voilà… white was white, and all the rest of the colors dropped into place! Amazing!

In Lesson 7 on ISO, Neil has an excellent commentary about noise. It leads to another point I have always supported: when you take photographs, always create the highest quality original possible. Add noise, color shifts, and other creative effects in post processing – but you always have the high quality original to go back to, either for a great print, or for a different post processing technique.


In Lesson 8, Light Meter, he has a very effective section on “medium grey” and “grey cards” and how light meters actually interpret whatever they see as, “medium grey.” In challenging lighting situations, Neil shows you how these inexpensive accessories they can be very helpful in determining correct exposure. (page 46)

Neil Creek’s “Photo Nuts and Bolts” is an excellent basic photo book that really should be part of every photographer’s bookshelf, both newbies and us more experienced shutterbugs, so I highly recommend it.

And just in case you were looking for a little extra reason that this book belongs on your electronic book shelf, Neil Includes at no additional charge, a quick reference “Pocket Guide” that easily folds up to carry along for those quick questions that pop us while you are shooting.


I’d give Neil Creek’s “Photo Nuts and Bolts” five thumbs up but I have to leave room for some of Neil’s other books that have more information… but these four thumbs are well earned – highly recommended.


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