Insights through the viewfinder

The Book of 35mm Photography, by the editors of Curtin & London Inc., Somerville, Mass. $15.95 paperback.

This slim (176 pages) how-to photography book concisely covers every beginning and advanced point necessary to get maximum results with your automatic 35-mm SLR camera. It walks you through page after page of clearly written explanations, heavily illustrated with readable charts, diagrams, drawings, and photographs. Its orderly layout (each facing two pages covers a single topic) and its at-a-glance organization make it an easy reference book.

It explains the basics of operating and caring for your camera and using its controls and accessories creatively. Advanced topics include how and when to override the automatic exposure meter; determining the best film speed for your camera; and the creative use of electronic flash and close-up photography. ''The Book of 35mm Photography'' condenses a lot of information and experience into a tight format palatable to any level of photographer.

Travel Photography: Developing a Personal Style, by Lisl Dennis. Somerville, Mass.: Curtin & London Inc. 137 pp. $16.95, paperback.

''Travel Photography: Developing a Personal Style'' explores the field of travel photography with its special challenges of overcoming cultural gaps, adapting to difficult circumstances, and coping with the elements while trying to develop a recognizable creative style. Lisl Dennis, who has trekked to the far corners of the world to establish herself as a well-known travel photographer, shares ways in which she has developed her own distinctive style and discusses how the amateur can achieve a more aesthetic and personal style, too. She addresses the technical and personal challenges of the medium as well. It's filled with stimulating suggestions to sharpen your awareness, starting in your own backyard.

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