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Outdoor Action and Adventure Photography by Dan Bailey is a refreshing change of course in this digital age we live in – it’s actually a paperback book. It is a good thing that Dan had decided to go hardcopy with this book, because it is filled with information, and as a result I feel like many people will want to jot things down, highlight paragraphs, and refer back to it time and again.
The book starts out with a heartfelt acknowledgement section that truly shows you how much time, effort, and passion, Dan has put into this work. It’s not just something that he’s slapped together – and it shows! Not only is the book well written and informative, but it is beautifully illustrated with a number of photographs from Dan’s portfolio.
After the acknowledgements, you’re given a general introduction to frame your mind for what you’re about to learn. Outdoor Action and Adventure Photography is geared to outdoor photographers, but I’d argue it’s geared even more so towards the outdoor enthusiast, who wants to take great photographs of their adventures.
What I mean is that this book is designed to show you how to take photographs, while you’re hitting a triple black diamond ski slope, or hiking up the side of a mountain. It’s geared more towards the extreme side of outdoor adventure, and the challenges that you would face if you were trying to photograph in those conditions.
After the general framework is set, the book is broken down into a fairly logical path. First you’re introduced to the types of gear that you’ll need. Dan makes a great point about how, for this type of work, expensive gear does make a difference. Not necessarily just for the image quality, but because higher quality professional gear is designed to take a beating, and in the conditions you’ll be facing, the gear you use will need to withstand a few bumps.
One of the largest problems faced by adventure photographers is the desire to pack light, but maintain a versatile and high quality kit. In the book, Dan addresses how he handles this challenge, and from what I can gather he is focused more on lightweight and ease of use, versus trying to carry every possible lens and body up the side of a mountain. He has a few different configurations of bodies and lenses that he brings, depending on how far and strenuous the adventure is expected to be.
Another big issue that is addressed in this book is regarding lighting. Light on the side of a mountain is not always going to be what you want it, and in this section Dan spends a great deal of time discussing different types of flashes, he provides a great step by step workflow, and talks about different use cases.
Finally, there’s a great section on weighing the decision to go pro. What does it mean, do you have what it takes, will you go full-time or part-time? A lot of what is discussed in this section can be applied to other fields of photography, but there are a few considerations specific to Dan’s field, that are worth considering if you’re thinking about making this a career choice.
Outdoor Action and Adventure Photography is a book that is designed for the outdoor enthusiast who wants to take great photographs in extreme conditions. While Dan keeps a fairly conversational tone throughout, the book is so packed with information, I’d equate it to more of a textbook than a simple informational guide.
If you’re looking to take great photographs while hitting the slopes with your friends – this is the book for you!