Most helpful positive review
73 of 74 people found the following review helpful
Move Over, John
on December 11, 2006
For many years, I always recommended one book as the best for beginning nature photographers and that was "John Shaw's Nature Photography Field Guide". Since the development of digital cameras I've lamented the fact that Shaw has indicated that he does not intend to update the book to cover digital photography. Until now, no book has come close to the Field Guide as an introduction. But now Rob Sheppard has come close. Oh, not close enough to displace Shaw, but close enough to go on the shelf next to Shaw.
Sheppard's book is aimed at digital camera owners. After a brief pep-talk on nature photography, he launches into the customary discussion of gear. He follows up with a discussion of technical factors like exposure, raw processing and white balance. After examining the effects of light and color, he looks at specific nature subjects like landscapes, flowers and wildlife. He then looks further at close-ups and special techniques, like black and white and panoramas. He finishes up with a brief plea for the environment. At the close of each chapter, he provides a set of quick tips that photographers at all levels can apply to improve their pictures. He also includes portfolios and interviews by some of the great nature photographers, like Jack Dykinga.
Sheppard's writing is easy to understand and he tries to inspire the reader to take better nature photographs. Most beginning digital nature photographers will benefit from reading this book. But you may ask why Sheppard doesn't knock Shaw out of the box. It's mainly a matter of technical detail. In my opinion, Sheppard's discussion of lenses, depth of field and close up-photography, among other things, just doesn't provide the degree of technical information that beginning nature photographers need and can absorb.
Sheppard's own pictures as well as those of the guest photographers are excellent, although I wish that the author had made more of an effort to relate the captions of the pictures to the text. In a few cases, like his discussion of close-up photography of moss and lichens, there were no supporting pictures.
This book only deals with the capturing of images. Readers interested in post-processing can look at Sheppard's excellent "Outdoor Photographer Landscape and Nature Photography with Photoshop CS2" or "Photoshop for Nature Photographers" by Ellen Anon and Tim Grey.
Finally I found one serious error that I hope will be corrected in the next printing. Sheppard says that if you change aperture from f/8 to f/4 you will double the amount of light coming through the lens. It's true that opening the aperture by one stop will double the amount of light but the next larger opening to f/8 is f/5.6, not f/4. Going from f/8 to f/4 will allow four times the amount of light through the lens! Read Shaw for a full explanation.
This is a book I will gladly recommend to every new digital nature photographer. But you will learn still more essential information if you also read John Shaw.