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Arizona Highways Photography Guide: How & Where to Make Great Pictures (Arizona Highways: Travel Arizona Collection) Paperback – March 7, 2008
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I'm planning a return trip to Arizona this year, and this time will be shooting in the northern part of the state, rather than in the south. I happened across the title of this book and decided to give it a look.
For the uninitiated, Arizona Highways has been around as long as I can remember. My grandparents subscribed and I first saw it back in the early 60s, as a kid. I had no appreciation for the magazine's photography (I wasn't even sure where Arizona was) and only as an adult and photographer did I come to realize the consistent high quality and beauty of the magazine. (Arizona Highways also offers photography workshops in Arizona and elsewhere.)
All that is background to understanding this book. The first third (100 pages) is instruction on basic photography equipment, understanding exposure and composition, lighting and other fairly basic concepts. This section is probably most helpful to new DSLR owners. Because the book was printed in 2008, some of the information is a bit dated, though still useful. For example, Adobe Lightroom barely existed but is now commonly used by photographers. There is some discussion of RAW shooting, the preferred method of digital shooting. There is some mention of shooting with film and even medium format cameras, which will probably be of limited interest to today's photographers.
The next third consists of chapters on landscape and wildlife photography, informal portraiture, and architecture. The chapters are illustrated with photographs taken in Arizona and the authors of these sections are all talented and accomplished photographers. They also mention their pro-quality equipment, which may be a bit off-putting to beginners with limited resources or basic equipment. Still, the information and examples are very helpful, even for those with considerable experience. (And you can make excellent images without using pro equipment.)
The remaining third of the book was the most useful for me, but was a bit disjointed. Each of the last 7 chapters describes locations in various parts of the state, such as the Grand Canyon and Navajo country. However, the specific directions for each of these locations is contained in the last chapter (really, an appendix), which means going back and forth when creating shotlists. This is a small inconvenience, and the editor probably did this so locations could be cited throughout the book. One shortcoming: no maps. A small scale map giving the reader an overview of the shooting locations would be helpful, as would large scale maps for specific locations.
So, bottom line: this is as much a "how to take photos in Arizona" book as it is "where to take photos in Arizona" book. If you're going to Arizona with your first DSLR, this book should be at the top of your list. If you are an experienced photographer, the first third of the book will offer little that is new to you, the second section will be interesting and refresh what you know about various types of photography, and the last section will be most helpful. (For all photographers I highly recommend Laurent Martres' "Photographing the Southwest Vol. 2" for comprehensive Arizona location information.) I like the book and it has been very helpful and sustained me as I wait for my trip back to Arizona.
Given the rapidity with which digital photography is evolving, it is very difficult for editors to keep up with the changes. Still, I hope that Arizona Highways is working on an updated version that describes the advances in digital equipment and post-processing. For now, this book is an excellent choice.