These are books that I found particularly helpful in learning about photography.
The Digital Photography Book, Volume 1, The Digital Photography Book, Volume 2, and The Digital Photography Book, Volume 3
In this series, photographer Scott Kelby gives clear, concise, cogent, and immediately-useful tips for photographers. The conversational tone of the tips in these books, as he describes, is "just like I'd tell a shooting buddy." The result is that you won't find theory here, or laborious explanations of minutia, but practical tips that you can read, comprehend, and put to use immediately. Each tip is written on its own page with an illustrative photograph. As Kelby points out, when you find a practical tip that works for you, you will be motivated to find out more how and why it works and learn the theory and technology behind it.Image Makers, Image Takers by Anne-Celine Jaeger
By interviewing photographers, photo editors, gallery curators, and others involved in creating and marketing photography, the author provides tremendous insight into why people take photographs and how they position them in a marketplace.
Teach Yourself Photography by Lee Frost
This is a book about film photography aimed at beginners, but it is so concise, well-written, and well-illustrated that I found it invaluable to review the fundamentals of photography. I appreciated learning more about film photography, because I did not learn anything about film before studying and practicing digital photography.
This book has many helpful charts and illustrations, and I'm impressed by the clean simplicity of this book's design. The clear, concise presentation saves a great deal of time in grasping the basics of photography.
Digital Photography Masterclass by Tom Ang
This is the best intermediate photography book that I have found. It emphasizes learning and improving your photographic techniques, not just documentation of gadgets or software. Organized around lessons about camera fundamentals, skills such as composition and timing, digital darkroom, and advancing your photography, this book really helped me connect the basics about photography to the practice of photography.
This book is generously illustrated, so that the techniques discussed are clearly shown. I found this book extremely useful, and I recommend it as the next book to get once you grasp the basics of photographic principals (such as covered in Teach Yourself Photography by Lee Frost).
Mastering HDR Photography: Combining Technology and Artistry to Create High Dynamic Range Images by Michael Freeman
This is an excellent, well-written, detailed, and cogent overview of High Dynamic Range photography. This book covers the technical foundation of HDR, the academic theories behind HDR tonemapping, and software used for HDR work. There are plenty of excellent examples in this well-illustrated book. On the theoretical side, I found this book to be most useful in describing the scientific basis of HDR. On the practical side, this book contains a section illustrating common HDR tonemapping problems and how to deal with them.
The New Manual of Photography by John Hedgecoe
This book is an impressive reference on photography topics: the camera, the elements of photography, the art of good photography, special projects, advanced photography, and post production. A hardcover book of 416 pages, this is definitely not something you want to carry to the field, but its readable format, generous illustrations, and encyclopedia-like entries mean that you can read articles on photography topics in one sitting. The cogent, clear, and concise descriptions are augmented by diagrams as well as many photos. Professional tips give you practical advice.Digital SLR Cameras & Photography For Dummies by David D. Busch
For the first time, I found a book that patiently explains the basics of digital photography! I looked at book after book, and each one jumped into technology and obscure camera settings without ever defining the basics. This is the book to read if you are just starting out.
This is a well-written book for people who want to learn the basics properly. You'll learn what an SLR camera is (for example, I learned the definition of "SLR" in this book--a definition I had found in no other place). This book contains a descriptions of exposure, including time value, aperture value, and manual settings that are easy to understand because the author does not assume prior knowledge of photography. His astute description of crop factor helped me understand what exactly is going on with my lens focal lengths.
This book will get you started into topics such as using software, improving your photography, and understanding your options for memory cards, camera choices, lens choices, and online resources.Complete Guide to High Dynamic Range Digital Photography by Ferrell McCollough
Showing off many examples of High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography with big, glossy pictures, this book presents a good overview of HDR practices, software, and examples of HDR prepared by the author and other photographers.
I gained some good information from this book: the idea of the +2/0/-2EV range as a "basic" interval of photos to use for HDR preparation; keeping the f number constant across the shots; and avoiding changes in the shots due to white balance, ISO, or focus--I hadn't realized these issues before trying out HDR. Also, a key point the author points out on page 47, is that creating an HDR from a single RAW file does not provide the dynamic range of multiple exposures--so this method does not produce an HDR photo, although many people use this technqiue. The book does not mention the freeware Qtpfsgui program that I use, but I appreciated seeing examples of HDR photos prepared with other software programs. Overall, this book is a useful overview, a great source of examples showing off HDRMastering Digital SLR Photography 2E (Paperback) by David D. Busch.
I appreciate this book's coverage of camera techniques (not Photoshop techniques) to create excellent images in the camera.David Busch's Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi/450D Guide to Digital SLR Photography by David D. Busch
Be sure to have the background of this same author's book Digital SLR Cameras & Photography For Dummies before you pick up this specalized guide to the Rebel XSi.