Customer Reviews: Creative Nature & Outdoor Photography, Revised Edition
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Showing 1-10 of 11 reviews(4 star). Show all reviews
on October 1, 2010
This is a great book to get you motivated to take more interesting landscapes/nature photos. It's strong on composition ideas, and organized very nicely. It's not at all heavy on the technical aspects, and it specifically is not meant to be (go to your local library and you can find dozens of books on the technical aspects of photography).

There were a few things that bugged me along the way. First of all, this new edition is 100% digital, whereas the first version was 100% film. This doesn't change that much in regards to photo creativity or composition, but the first version had helpful sections about how to compensate for certain lighting conditions depending on what kind of film you were using. Plus that means 100% of the photos in the first book were film, 100% digital in the second book, and no two are the same. I think it would be worth it to read both and compare photos from both. She constantly mentions in the second edition how easy digital manipulation is, so I'll bet that changed her approach when she was actually in the field.

For all of her example photos, she lists the size of her lens, the focal length at which she used it, shutter speed, and aperture. No ISO. Again, this is not meant to be a technical book, but I could see a newbie trying to match her settings to the best of their knowledge, getting bad results, and becoming discouraged. I also mention this because she wrote down her film speed for every shot in the first edition. And I hate to say it, but she claims to use a six thousand dollar Canon DSLR throughout this book, and there's a very real advantage as far as way higher, way cleaner ISOs being at your disposal when you're in the field shooting at very small apertures.

Sometimes she'll tell a really great, detailed story about how she figured out something in the field or how something fell into place for a truly memorable photo, and the photos on that page are of completely unrelated situations, so you can't see what she's even talking about. Though most of the time, she does include quality photographs related to the subject about which she's writing.

The last thing that bothered me was the typos. I can't say there's a lot of them but there's a half dozen very obvious ones that take away from the book. The "wondeorful" plug-ins she uses in Photoshop (pg. 127) and getting feedback "fr/om" your viewer (pg. 19) distract from the purty, purty picture on the opposite page. But that's just me.

Overall this is a very great book, full of very great photos. This is THE book to get once you've read up on shutter speed, aperture, and all the other boring technical bits. I've never read something about depth of field in a technical book and wanted to go out shooting, but I'll read one page in this book about diagonal lines, complementary colors, or the different qualities of light and I'll instantly be tempted to grab my camera and go out shooting.
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on November 27, 2011
The original edition of "Creative Nature & Outdoor Photography" is a great guide for beginners to learn to take better photographs. Despite its age, much of the content is still relevant to today's photographers. The updated edition of this book contains fresh images, and new material specifically about digital photography. While the selection of images and core of the text both continue to be very enjoyable, the new technical information presented is underwhelming and relatively poorly described. I think this book would have been a lot stronger if it maintained its focus on compositional/creative topics rather than occasionally diverge into technical subjects. Those looking for technical information would be better advised to look elsewhere.

In terms of creative instruction, this book is similar to Peterson's "Learning to See Creatively". These two books do overlap, although in many ways, they are complementary. Tharp covers 'core' topics like lighting, design elements, and composition quite well (and this is what made the book so successful in the first edition). If you've never been exposed to these ideas, this book is a great introduction. The material is engaging and easy-to-read, and does not feel like a textbook (which many books on composition tend to feel like). However, if you are already familiar with these topics, the presentation may feel a bit shallow. On a few occasions, a topic will be described and stop just short of giving really practical advice or examples on how it might be used. It was disappointing to sometimes read a fairly vague passage and then have it qualified with something generic like "just keep trying and you'll get it" (sic). Nevertheless, this is still among one of the better introductory instructional books on composition.

Of the few sidebars (or otherwise minor sections) on technical topics, none were covered very well. Tharp discusses the histogram, and 'exposing to the right', as well as topics like HDR and some post-processing ideas, all of which had fairly weak coverage. The weakest topic by far was on depth of field, where the book tries to describe hyperfocal focusing, and basically butchers the topic. The text describes the DoF master application, but not the excellent website, where all of this is explained wonderfully.

Despite it's flaws, the real 'meat' of this book continues to be relatively good. This book is best for beginning photographers. If you more advanced, and are looking for some deeper discussion of 'vision' and expression through photography (something that Tharp hints at in a few places), then I'd highly recommend you take a look at David duChemin's excellent books instead.
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on March 9, 2013
This is a charming book, filled with great images and interesting stimulating ideas for visualizing nature photographs. It is not a technique manual, and although it covers topics like color balance and depth of field, the book does not address them sufficiently for the reader to apply the information to the camera. It is best thought of as an visual stimulation for helping the photographer develop a more sophisticated eye.
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on May 10, 2014
I am a hard grader so. . . I found this to be not much different from her earlier book, however there are always gems hidden in every new addition which I enjoy mining. I found her comments about Photoshop's plug-in for HDR to be worth the price of the book, it's very helpful for post processing when shooting HDR. I also find that her camera and lens setting for each shot informative plus her results are pretty spectacular. It always helps a hobbyist like me to try harder to get something close to her shots and to that end she succeeded. Thanks Brenda.
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on September 19, 2010
Inspirational about how to face the process of creating a great picture. Weak when it comes to technical digital photografy skills. She shouldn't get into this. Overall it is really poetry to read how passionate and right she speaks about photography. I would buy it again for sure. Helps you remember what you are looking for when you are playing around with your camera.
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on February 23, 2012
I've really enjoyed this book. There is some very good advice and examples to help you bring your skills up a notch. Brenda does a good job of explaining how to improve your skills as a photographer. Also I enjoyed her photographs and details of how they were accomplished, very inspiring.
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on September 26, 2014
I am an amateur and really just absorbing whatever I can from a variety of books while taking some courses and trying to develop my skill levels. - I do really like this book - but have not studied in depth ... yet!
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on January 29, 2011
Others have gone into a lot of detail, so I will just share my overall impression. Brenda did a great job with this book. A number of times while reading it I stopped and said "I'll be darned. I never thought about that, but she is right." It packs a bunch of useful information on making your photos more interesting into a very readable book. The photos in the book also do an excellent job of showing you what you just read about. I will be reading it again (several times) and taking notes. A great investment at under $20.
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on October 22, 2015
The three books in this order are recommended by Ken Rockwell whose opinion I respect. No doubt, each could be helpful. However, I already have many other books that I am trying to use.
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on December 24, 2014
I am very happy with the purchase.
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