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73 of 74 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
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.
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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2007
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
At first glance, the book is amazing. It is very well written with all sorts of useful advice. It is useful for a beginner, but he never sounds as if he is talking down to anyone. It has plenty of more technical advice for the more advanced, but it never becomes overwhelming. And the photos are simply amazing.

But... I do have one problem with the book, and it is fairly glaring to me. As amazing as the photos are, the author makes little to no attempt to tie them into the text. There is no attempt to use the photos as a way to explain difficult or confusing topics. It is almost like the author wrote the entire book and then simply added a bunch of photos randomly throughout the text. Photographers by nature are visual learners. It would have been much more helpful if the author had use the photos to teach us and let the text add the details instead of relying so heavily on the text itself.

The end result is that many times the beautiful photos seem more of a distraction than helpful examples. This book is very good, but it easily could have been so much better.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is one of the few photography books I have seen that starts off with simple point and shoot digital cameras rather than recommending you start with the fanciest Nikon from the beginning. In fact on an early page he says get a camera you like 'if you don't like your camera, no matter ... if it gets a top rating from 'Consumer Reports,' you won't use it as much as a camera that you truly enjoy using.'

Some of the best pictures are taken with very low end cameras simply because they are small enough, light enough (and inexpensive enough that you don't care much if they get lost or broken) that you have them with you when you want to take a picture.

Another point I like in this book is that he doesn't spend a lot of time talking about retouching your pictures using Photoshop. If you want to do Photoshop, get a Photoship book. This is a book on taking pictures, and at that it is excellent. His descriptions are good and to the point. His sample photographs are great and illustrate what he is talking about in the text.

Nature Photography is the most popular subject in photography, here's an excellent description on how to do it well.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2008
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
If you are looking for a helpful book on nature photography, keep looking. This book's focus is not on technique (or even nature photography) but mostly on gear and simplistic ABCs.

55% of the book is photos. None of the photos give detail of how it was shot or any twist on a technique used. This drops the page count from 207 pages to 93 functional pages. The first 61 pages offer nothing different than that of a camera's manual on shutter speed, white balance, etc. More wasted space is used on "gear" about tripods and cameras. Doing the math, we are now down to 66 pages. This process continues to where we have just a few pages that may offer some value.

Much of the remaining reduction comes in wasted space on "gear" which Sheppard rehashes multiple times. This book's only purpose would be to get someone not the slightest interested in photography to perhaps spark an interest. For any photographer at any level, the book offers nothing than what you find on camera manufacturer websites and manuals inside camera boxes. It is so basic that even beginners would be hard pressed to learn much. In the end, you are left wondering where the pages are about nature photography. Look elsewhere in Amazon for more suitable photography books.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
I picked this book up in a bookstore because of its dynamic cover, and I am so glad I did! The book is not only beautiful, but it is truly informative for a photographer at almost any level. Rob Sheppard's appreciation for the beauty of nature certainly comes through, and it is hard to not pick up a camera and walk outside as soon as you read it! Great "10 Tips" sections that sum up a chapter without needing to read every word. This book is a must-have for any photographer interested in nature.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2007
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Rob Sheppard (editor of Outdoor Photographer Magazine) has done an outstanding job putting together a complete book for digital nature photographers. The book has enough information for the experienced photographer as well as the novice. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2007
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is clearly the finest book that I have read on digital nature photography (and there are some other good ones out there). Rob Sheppard writes so well. This is a book that is helpful to nature photographers, no matter what your level of ability. I thought that it was so good that I purchased it for people I know who love nature photography.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
Nature photography isn't as easy as it looks. It requires a great deal of thought and more than a little skill. Rob Sheppard put a great deal of thought into this book, and his advice helps you attain the required skills. The photos are inspiring, and the techniques can be applied to virtually any digital camera. This is a book that will help you grow as a photographer, whether you choose to specialize in nature photography or not.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
Sheppard has the ability to make the complex understandable. The book contains many tips on taking that one "photo of a lifetime." I haven't taken that photo yet, but it's not the book's fault, it's mine. Everything is in the book to help you take that special photograph.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 12, 2010
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Like many photography books, this book really is only somewhat informative, and somewhat helpful.

After a brief overview of gear, the author goes on to describe, (very briefly) exposure, lighting, color, composition, etc...Never really spending any significant amount of time on any one subject, and only providing a few photographic details for each topic covered.

For example, the author spends a page or two describing lighting (backlighting, sidelighting, etc), but fails to show any pictorial examples that would give the reader a visual example.

While this book has many, many great pictures none of the pictures are accompanied by a description of the camera settings. This is the information that would prove most useful to any aspiring photographer.

In the end, this book really did very little to further my photography skills.
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