1. Product / equipment manuals
I'm possibly in the minority of people who enjoys reading photography equipment manuals from cover to cover. Which I rationalise for myself on the basis that if I know how things work and what they're capable of, it helps me to focus on being more creative.
2. Michael Clark - A Professional Photographer's Workflow
Using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop - It’s hard to mention instruction books for adventure sports photography without mentioning Michael Clark. (See his Adventure Sports Photography and Location Lighting books). The first of Michael's books I owned was this comprehensive manual for Adobe Lightroom. Michael's knowledge of this photo organising and editing software is excellent and I picked up lots of hints and tips for how best to organise, process and archive my images, many of which I still take advantage of today.
3. Dan Bailey - Going Fast with Light: A Flash Guide for Outdoor Photographers
This instruction book on flash is one of Alaska adventure photographer Dan Bailey's e-books (I had the pleasure of being technical editor for Dan's print book - Outdoor Action and Adventure Photography). Dan's e-book was the first book I purchased on outdoor flash. It explains flash in simple, practical terms and helped me realise that lighting photographs is nothing to be scared of.
4. James Cheadle and Peter Chavers - The Portrait Photographer's Lighting Style Guide: Recipes for Lighting and Composing Professional Portraits
Each chapter of James' and Peter's book covers a single portrait photo, outlining a description of the shoot, technical details and lighting diagrams. I started off using it, and similar lighting diagram books, to help me understand how other photographers lit portraits and what equipment would cause which effect. Once I knew how a piece of equipment worked, and I'd practiced with it, the challenge moved on to how I could use it to identify and achieve my own creative vision.
5. Joe McNally - Sketching Light (An Illustrated Tour of the Possibilities of Flash)
Joe is a Nikon Ambassador, regular National Geographic contributor and former Life magazine staff photographer. This book, like Joe's first book on using speedlights (The Hot Shoe Diaries - Big Light From Small Flashes) is not an instruction manual per se, more a narrative from Joe on his thought process as he captured various images in his portfolio. In 2015, I attended a speedlight seminar with Joe McNally and to be able to learn from him first-hand as he worked his way through various shoots was inspiring. Joe's seminars are well worth attending.