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I like these books for more than the obvious reason that they contain a wealth of help in their pages.
For one thing they’re an easy read so, after a hard day behind the camera, you can relax at home and read it for pleasure, not only soaking up all the useful info but enjoying the largish pictures within its pages.
Author Rob Sheppard intentionally laid out all the practical info and creative suggestions you would need to take your images to a higher level: which lenses and accessories are best for the purpose; the pluses and minuses of RAW vs JPEG; how do you stalk an animal? How about landscape composition?
Satisfying it may be, but many amateurs are unaware their work is just that: amateur. Sure, it takes effort, but it is worth while to lift your game, tune up your senses and place your image making on a higher plane.
Sheppard confesses that he has enjoyed photography since he was a kid and remembers entering a B&W print of a local scenic spot in the local newspaper’s photo contest and recalling his pride in the photo — but it didn’t win!
He still enjoys being out and about with a camera, having shot images from Peru to Newfoundland, Florida to Washington and admits he wants to ‘get you excited about getting out and taking photographs of your own special subjects.’
First the spiritual: Sheppard believes that ‘nature photography definitely deepens, widens and expands our sense of life. He believes you can shoot pictures of your favourite subjects; most times you can shoot many shots of your favourite subjects and yet capture totally different images than another person may take.
A touchy feely sort of book? You betcha!
In a chapter titled ‘Connections’ Sheppard asserts that whilst we may have many connections to the natural world, these are not always recognised. He suggest you connect with the subject in the picture, then connect again with the subject when you look at the final image. The final pleasure comes in sharing the image with others, helping them also to connect with the subject.
Then down to practicalities: choice of camera is important but what may work well for one person may not be OK with another. Educate yourself about differing camera types, decide on which type of nature photography you wish to pursue and make sure you can tote your camera into the field, making sure you don’t spoil your adventures with a pile of gear that weighs you down.
In a section titled ‘Megapixels and Quality’ he comes down heavily on the hype over pixel count: after all, megapixel counts are less about image quality and more about size.
Useful chapters follow on lenses, suitable focal lengths for scenic work, suitable camera mounts. Then follow discussions on exposure; lens aperture vs shutter speed; working in auto vs Program AE vs aperture or shutter priority vs manual exposure; reading a screen histogram; ISO settings; how to determine white balance.
Without light you can’t capture too much in the way of a digital scenic! That much is obvious. But what quality of light? Hard or soft? Front lit or backlit? And its colour?
There follows some handy help on how to model and shape the light on your scenic using reflectors or diffusers, by warming it with a change to the white balance, a change to the exposure, adding another light source, adding a grad filter etc.
The general tone of the book is more in the nature of help rather than a pile of techy details, which makes it an easy and encouraging read.
If you’re into scenics, this is for you!
But, as I said, don’t expect ‘a pile of techy details!’
Author: R Sheppard.
Distributor: Capricorn Link.
Length: 192 pages.
ISBN: 978 1 4547 0813 1.
Price: Get a Price on The Magic of Digital Nature Photography at Amazon (currently 39% off)