I have been a hobbyist photographer with my 5 year old Nikon D40 (18-55mm) until now. I do get occasional good shots, but most of them are not satisfying in terms of good lighting and composition.

I feel now is the time for me to take a deeper dive into photography. I want to take a serious path of learning, both theoretical and practical.

The first thing I want to improve is lighting. To this end, I want to invest in these items for understanding light and exposure better:

  1. Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson
  2. Light, Science and Magic
  3. 35mm f/1.8G Lens as a companion lens to the kit lens (I can afford it now).

The second thing I want to work on is my composition skills. To this end, I want to invest in these items:

  1. The Photographer's Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos
  2. 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G (I won't be able to afford it now, but will be in about 6 to 9 months.)

The reason for chosing a prime Wide Angle lens is two-fold:

  1. I have always loved the perspective a wide angle lens offers.
  2. The opportunity to compose a photo better is better IMHO with wide angle lens.

I would appreciate it if you would offer your advice and suggestions from your experience on how to become better at lighting and composition, if the lens choice I made is appropriate for my path, and ultimately some additional practical tips and resources that can be useful for my journey.

  • What you are looking for is a conversation, rather than a definitive answer. You can use our chat for that. As worded, this question cannot really be answered. Additionally, it really seems like you've already made up your mind about how to start learning lighting and composition. If you have more specific questions to ask, such as how to use a specific lighting technique, feel free to ask each one as an independent question. For now, I'm going to be closing this as overly broad. – jrista Oct 24 '12 at 17:41
  • Okay, not a problem, I understand. I have never used chat on SE, so I want to know if I can drop by and point to this question and ask, 'well what do you think' type of questions. – Animesh Oct 24 '12 at 17:45
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    I think jrista is right to close this, but I can't help but make a note. I think you're generally on the right track. Those are helpful things, although personally I'd skip Understanding Exposure and get Michael Freeman's book on exposure, not because Peterson is bad but because you'll probably move past it quickly. Taking lots of pictures is important, but even more importantly, review your results with a critical eye. – Please Read Profile Oct 24 '12 at 18:05
  • Also important: on your D40 and on comparable newer cameras, a 35mm lens is "normal" rather than wide angle. (Read more here.) – Please Read Profile Oct 24 '12 at 18:07
  • Matt, thanks for the suggestion on Michael Freeman's book on exposure and +1 for reviewing with a critical eye. – Animesh Oct 24 '12 at 18:08