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Photographing Waterdrops: Exploring Macro Worlds with Harold Davis
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I was very disappointed with this book. I was expecting to learn something about photographing waterdrops and macro photography. Instead, I got one description after another of what was happening in the author's life when he decided to shoot a picture of some waterdrops on a flower.

After about 86 pages, when he FINALLY begins to get into some technical details...even then it's very vague and not particularly helpful. In fact, when it comes down to what is arguably the most important technical aspect of this work, the choice of lenses, Mr. Davis does little more than provide a lengthy chart of available macro lenses, without much in terms of actual recommendations.

Also, the sorts of waterdrops that he photographs are all pretty much variations on the theme of morning dew on a flower. This really should have been made more explicit. Specifically, there is zero coverage of stop-action photography of splashing waterdrops.

The physical quality of the book is very good. The pages are thick and the print is colorful. Many, but not all, of the photographs are quite excellent.

If I had known what I was getting into, I would not have bought this book. "Photographing Waterdrops" would make a good coffee table book. However, as an instructional text in photography, it fails miserably.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2012
Format: Paperback
I have never, previously, photographed waterdrops. I've seen some images of waterdrops, of course, but never had much desire to make any such images myself. That changed about 5 pages into Mr. Davis' new book, "Photographing Waterdrops."

The images in this book are just spectacular, and I think will serve as an inspiration for anyone with an interest in photographing waterdrops, and for any who, like me, was not interested in doing so until now. The images are accompanied by text that is well written and easy to understand, and Mr. Davis' enthusiasm is evident throughout, as is his obvious talent in this photographic genre. With an image on virtually every page, there are more than enough examples of waterdrop photography to give the reader a comprehensive view of what can be accomplished.

In contrast to some of Mr. Davis' other books, this is not an instruction manual, even though each image is accompanied by the "specifications" of its capture - lens focal length, ISO, etc. There is an interesting description of the life cycle of waterdrops, discussion of some of the problems encountered in photographing in different settings, and some discussion of the gear involved, but (unfortunately) there is not a detailed description of the specifics of capturing these images nor are there "setup" pictures as has become common in many photorgraphy books today. That being said, this book was not intended as an instruction manual, but rather and as a source of inspiration, and in that regard it performs admirably. Being a gear-head, I always like to learn what other photographers are using in their craft, and while this book is limited in that regard, I did learn the importance of extension tubes, which, of course, I now have to purchase.

In full disclosure, I was offered a review copy of this book direct from the publisher. However, the copy shipped to me was damaged in heavy rainfall after being left outside by the postman. As soon as I started leafing through the decidedly waterlogged pages, I decided to buy a replacement copy myself so that I would have an undamaged copy. The images are that good. Fortunately, the Mr. Davis arranged for me to get a second undamaged copy, and that has joined my other "coffee table books."

Even if you have no interest in photographing waterdrops yourself, you will enjoy this book immensely for the the beautiful images - and you might just find yourself, as I have, suddenly interested in making some of those images yourself. Highly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
Being a semi professional photographer, I never ventured into the world of photographing water droplets and honestly I didn't knew what tools are required for this style of photography. Thanks to this book , now after reading , I have an understanding what things are required for this job.
One thing I can say that - it would be excellent if some pictures and processing steps are shown in the book along with the tools.
The book covers a wide area in photographing water droplets under natural light and conditions. It will definitely open your imaginative thinking and help you compose excellent images. In every chapter/subject of the book, the author describes the picture details and then provide a nice photo of what can be rendered with patience and persistence.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
I am fairly new to photography and enjoy shooting landscapes and flowers. Recently, I purchased a macro lens and became fascinated with the art of macro photography and the beautiful abstract images one can create. Harold Davis' book, "Photographing Waterdrops" completely blew me away with some of the most beautiful images I have ever seen. This book is both inspirational and instructional. I felt compelled to grab my camera, go outdoors and search for water drops in the early morning when the dew is fresh and moist on the leaves and flowers in my garden.

First of all, Waterdrops is written in an easy to understand format;; anyone can pick up the book and immediately be drawn into Harold's almost poetic descriptions of the scenes he is shooting. Each page not only contains amazing photos, but a comprehensive discussion of the equipment used, camera settings, and solutions to some of the difficulties encountered in the highly dynamic world of waterdop composition and changing light conditions. The format is well-planned and broken down into three sections:
1. Waterdrop Worlds which defines the waterdrop environment for photography.
2. Making Waterdrop Photos, a discussion of the more technical aspects of exposure, settings used, lens and equipment.
3. Waterdrops in the Digital Darkroom, a discussion of the post-editing and processing modes.

I have three other books by Harold Davis in my library: "Creative Close-Ups, Creative Composition and Creative Night". All are written in the same easy to read style with beautiful photos and technical details with which to further one's photography knowledge base. I highly recommend "Photographing Waterdrops" to anyone who loves photography and seeks inspiration for exploring a new genre. It is a book for both the new photographer and experienced alike and a wonderful addition to my personal library.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I love "how to books" with rich illustrations that do justice to presenting ones techniques... and this book does not dissappoint! Mr. Davis shares not only his passion for the craft, but great insite into his motivations for how he conceives, masters, and even by what he himself is often surprised of in the final results. This book shows what many fail to ever take much notice of in the world around them and is even more richly possible with all the fine photography hardware and software available today. Enjoy this book and be inspired and motivated to go exploring down into another world within our own!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
When I received notice on Harold's e-newsletter that we could get advanced publisher's copies I jumped at the chance. I'd just returned from a Yosemite trip where I'd finally had a chance to play with my Nikkor 105 Micro, snapping pictures of tiny water droplets nestled in frost-covered leaves in morning light.

My previous exposure to Harold's writing was "Creative Landscapes" which I much enjoyed.

This book, "Photographing Waterdrops," is a blend of technical know-how and artistic inspiration. Because macro photography can be a very technical way of shooting, I want lots technical detail, more than most, perhaps because I am a software engineer. His books "The Photoshop Darkroom: Creative Digital Post-Processing" and "Creative Close-Ups: Digital Photography Tips and Techniques" will fill that need. This is not to say this book does not provide good, solid nuts-and-bolts information about how to shoot macro; it is a reflection of my newness to this field. I plan to buy "Creative Close-Ups: Digital Photography Tips and Techniques" to further my education.

When it comes to the visual presentation and inspiration this book is top-notch. The tiny worlds he shows and describes excite me. The spider-web work on pages 70-75 are breathtaking. The photos of wet grass on pages 62 and 87 are stunning. I love star bursts and prismatic effects of water and he shows these off. Anyone who wants to get their creative juices flowing, get excited about the field of macro photography and loves nature should buy this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 2, 2012
Format: Paperback
This book does not just provide the usual data on exposure, lighting, and F-stop. Almost every photo is the result of a mini adventure that Harold leads you through. Reading this book provides some insight into the way the photographic artist thinks and is inspired by the small details most people overlook.

Photography is about SEEING, and sharing that vision with others for their appreciation.
Harold Davis, in his new book, has taken this a step further, and delivered a methodology that both allows the reader to participate in Harold's photographs in a personal way, but to also apply the ideas to their own work.

Included are sections on the technical aspects of focus, using macro lenses and extention tubes, as well as post processing images in the digital darkroom, but it is the images themselves that lead the reader to new ways of creating their own work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
Recently I added another Harold Davis photography book to my library of photography books - Photographing Waterdrops. Harold is a master in the art of macro photography and has written several books on the subject. Each of his books are both instructive and a joy to look at and this latest book is no exception.

I enjoy shooting water drops. Each one is a miniature world reflecting the world outside or refracting the world on the other side. They are always interesting to look at and almost always difficult to photograph. In this book, Harold instructs the reader the equipment and techniques for capturing these miniature worlds.

The book is organized into three sections - Waterdrop Worlds, Making Waterdrop Photos and Waterdrops in the Digital Darkroom.

After several pages on the importance of water to our world and the lifecycle of a waterdrop, he gets down to how to deal with extreme magnification of macro photography, the physics of a waterdrop, different kinds of waterdrops, and the difference between reflections and refractions. He spends several pages on waterdrops on spiderwebs. I've shot these before, but never like the extreme closeups he shows in the book. I'm inspired to try it out next opportunity I get. He also explains how to get the starburst effect in waterdrops.

In Making Waterdrop Photos he covers some basics of good exposures, the exposure triangle, and reading histograms. A new photographer will appreciate this instruction and the more experienced may benefit from the review. He spends several pages on equipment - lenses, extension tubes, close up filters, tripods, and flashes. He also talks about some of the challenges of extreme macro photography and how to over come these challenges.

In the final section, Harold explains his techniques for post processing using Adobe Photoshop. If you're an Aperture, Lightroom, or other software user you will benefit from the concepts, but not the technique.

Harold includes many of his own photos as teaching examples in his books. With each photo he explains the situation, how he approached the subject, and the technical specs on each photo. The examples are great teaching tools and are a pleasure to look at.

If you have an interest in photographing waterdrops you'll find this a very worthwhile investment.

Now if it will only rain here in East Tennessee I'll get out and practice what I have learned.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2012
Format: Paperback
Photographing Waterdrops Exploring Macro Worlds with Harold Davis

Mr. Davis has done it again. I was hooked on this book when I reached page 9 and saw the photograph of a leaf he photographed from underneath with incredible sunbursts coming from several waterdrops. Amazing! If you don't already have a copy of Photographing Waterdrops, I suggest you either go buy one or borrow one and check out Page 9.

Not only is the book a great instructional tool, but also will be a beautiful addition to our library after a long-term stay on our coffee table.

Photographing Waterdrops can open up a world of photographic possibilities. Not only do you find technical information regarding settings, lens choice, ISO, aperture for each and every photograph in the book, but reading the chapter that goes along with the photograph will give you encouragement and inspiration to get out the door and start photographing not only waterdrops that have eluded you, but almost anything tiny.

The book can be read from cover to cover, page by page, as I'm sure it was designed to be. And I highly recommend that. But if you're looking for a certain type of photographic information, the book's Table of Contents will lead you to the specific chapter you need.

The first section talks and explores the life of a waterdrop and it's environment, different kinds of waterdrops, even the physics of a waterdrop.

The next section talks about the making of waterdrop photos. Here, Mr. Davis leads you through the process step by step from planning to choosing a lens to compositions to working with natural and macro flash lighting.

The third and final section takes you through the digital darkroom. Today as much as ever (or even more so) post-production can make or break an image. Mr. Davis tell us that he takes photographs the way he does in part because he knows what is possible in his digital darkroom. He shares his post-production workflow from taking the photograph all the way through multi raw processing to enhancing color and making waterdrops themselves sharp.

While this book focuses on a wet world, it covers so much more in the world of macro. If you like waterdrops or would like to explore the possibility of shooting waterdrops or just like shooting right after a rain or in the fog, this is the book for you.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
"Where the telescope ends, the microscope begins. Which of the two has the grander view?" Victor Hugo

I flicked through "Waterdrops" when it first arrived and my wife, who was looking over my shoulder, made the comment "these pictures are amazing". This was our first impression and we were not disappointed. There are about 110 beautiful photographs in this book, each with its own biography and many of which, having studied them, I personally consider stunning works of art.

Did the book live up to the first impression and to Harold's reputation? In a word - Yes.

This is a very readable book and it is clear from the start that Harold poured his heart into it and in doing so reveals quite a bit about himself. We get a peek behind the curtain when Harold discusses the essentials of creativity, pre-visualization and composition. We get further insight into the role imagination plays in his work - a very active imagination - which enables him to see Waterdrops and the worlds within them as "awe inspiring". We also get insight into Harold's reverence for water, the life cycle of water and his justifiable concern about our treatment of it. In addition, many of the Waterdrop subjects involve flowers and this book is a very nice companion to "Photographing Flowers" by Harold Davis.

But what about those who want the book to learn about the art of Waterdrop photography? This is where the book excels. But the book is not just about Waterdrops. The subtitle is "Exploring Macro Worlds" and the lessons learned carry over to the more general subject of macro photography.

I have attended many workshops, including some of Harold's, and have often heard the presenter asked: "I looked at the same scene; I have the same equipment, but how are you able to capture these incredibly beautiful images that few others, if any, can capture?" This book provides invaluable insight into the answer to that question. The book consists of two parts which run in parallel and this approach enables the reader to combine Harold's discussion of macro photography technique with descriptions of real-life shooting experiences relating to the beautiful photographs. The reader experiences photographing Waterdrops in many different settings, learns about the challenges and the techniques to compensate for them, the contortions sometimes necessary to achieve the desired composition in the right conditions, the right setting, in the right light and with the right equipment, and his willingness to incur a little discomfort such as "lying on his back in rain soaked grass to look at the underside of plant leaves".

If you have seen Harold's other books you know that he "views digital post production as fun and that knowledge of the possibilities available with post production inform his shooting methodologies". Much of his methodology in this book is situational and is described in the anecdotes that accompany each photograph. There is a section called "Waterdrops in the Digital Darkroom" but he does not repeat the lessons which are described in considerable detail in other books he has published, and he does assumes some level of familiarity with post production techniques.

Harold provides an equipment list and as far as I can tell the only thing missing from it is a set of thick knee pads from a hardware store.

In conclusion I recommend this book to anybody whose interests include:
> Photographing Waterdrops in particular, or macro photography in general
> Looking for a new subject or broadening their awareness of a miniature world around them that they may not know exists or perhaps never thought about.

When photographers get together we often talk about our belief system - that we go places most people don't go to, at times they don't go there, we see things other people miss, and in the digital darkroom we often see things we did not see when shooting, and macro photography of Waterdrops is one such case in point. I'm going to add one more thought using a quotation for which I am unable to provide attribution: "When you change the way you look at things the things you look at change" and in this case Harold's books have changed the way I look at the art of photography.

In closing and by way of disclosure, I am a friend of Harold's and I have attended some of his workshops, own several of his books, and in this case I did receive an advance copy of Waterdrops. None of this influenced my assessment - I simply think it is a wonderful book.
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