Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with a Film or Digital Camera by Bryan Peterson
If you want to take better pictures, read this book from cover to cover. From the title it might sound like Understanding Exposure covers a very limited area of photography, but that's where you're wrong. Peterson, a successful photographer, has everything the beginner needs to take beautiful pictures. The book begins with how to use ISO, shutter speed, and aperture together to create pictures that are technically and artistically good. From there Peterson explains the different techniques to get a variety of cool effects such as panning. Even though I had been taking pictures for over a year, I found the book extremely helpful and the lighting section provides invaluable information on how to adjust exposure for different times of day and situations. There are pictures on almost every page to illustrate Peterson's instructions. My only criticism is that some terms are mentioned numerous times but not explained until the last third of the book. But that's just another reason to go through the whole thing.
Do you photographers out there have any other recommendations for photography manuals?