Book reviews:    The RSPB Guide to bird & nature photography

book45a.jpg (32154 bytes) Title
The RSPB Guide to Bird & Nature Photography
Laurie Campbell
0-7153-9470-3 hardback   0-7153-0127-6 paperback
Reprinted 1997
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)
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This beautiful book by the famous British wildlife photographer Laurie Campbell was published by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Throughout the book you will find that this photographer is not just doing his job, but loves nature and wants to capture the beauty of it on film. In this book he is showing us how it can be done. The book was first published in 1990 and was reprinted in five different years. This already indicates the need for such a book.

book45b.jpg (46592 bytes)The book is divided into three main parts (equipment, techniques, fieldwork) which cover all subjects needed for a wildlife photographer.

Because it was first published in 1990, you shouldn't expect information on all the latest computerized cameras and electronic equipment. Besides any such book would be outdated very rapidly anyway. Instead I found it very relaxing to read about the basics of equipment. The things you will need and use all the time, regardless of the age of your camera system.

The second part about techniques first describes exposure. How to measure the light accurately and how to compensate for different lighting situations. There is also information on how to measure and compensate in tricky situations, such as black birds or an animal with a white furry coat against a dark background. Also in the second part is a big chapter on lighting. What are the characteristics of different light situations and how to make use of them. This chapter also explains to use of flash and how to combine natural light with flash. The last chapter of part two is about composition. Which basic rules to follow. The differences between an interesting picture and a dull picture.

Finally part three of the book deals with the fieldwork. Often neglected in other photography books as they seem to focus on equipment and techniques. It starts with a chapter which is very appropriate in the environment in which Laurie often works. It's about coping with adverse weather conditions. Further on there are chapters on stalking, using hides, using a vehicle as a hide, nest photography etc. Even using remote control and baiting animals.

Conclusion: This is a very nice and complete book on wildlife photography. It covers all subjects from equipment to techniques. And the last chapter about fieldwork is especially helpful. Though it is not the very newest, I would much more consider it to be timeless. This is such a book I can definitely recommend highly!

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All text and images 1991 - 2011 Hans Martens