Giving recommendations for good introductory or general books on photography can be awkward, the advice in these texts often needs to be interpreted with knowledge gained from experience and an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the author; so judging validity as a beginner may be difficult. Additionally it can be worth bearing in mind that while theory and principle of photographic practice may stay relatively constant, a book or article written 30 or 40 years ago may be discussing materials or equipment that has differing features and characteristics compared to what is available on the market today; as an example, I have found this particularly relevant when considering the controls available for altering print tone via developer selection on black & white photographic paper, much of the earlier advice simply doesn’t seem to work with modern emulsions.
Richard J. Henry ‘Controls in Black & White Photography – 2nd edition’ – clearly explained and well laid out, this is probably one of the most successful texts in terms of clarification and examination of various photographic “facts” and suppositions. While it is possible to query the work on one or two points, Henry is clear on the limitations of the exercise, therefore making the book an excellent benchmark.
Roger Hicks ‘A matter of opinion’ – a collection of often humorous articles taken from a column in the UK magazine ‘Amateur Photographer’ – Mr Hicks was an author and journalist who traveled extensively and wrote several books on photography, darkroom work, travel, motorcycles, and classic cars. The book covers a wide range of topics, e.g. Leica, camera clubs, exhibitions, travel, technology, online forum “experts”, the nature of art… with only the occasional missed step.