Book reviews:   The Art of Photographing Nature

book50a.jpg (46685 bytes) Title
The Art of Photographing Nature
Martha Hill and Art Wolfe
Three Rivers Press, NY
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This is not a nature photography book as you will usually find them. It is not the usual course in photography with attention for equipment, technique etc, telling you how to make a great photograph. Instead it is showing photographs by famous and well published photographer Art Wolfe. These photographs are then discussed by himself and by Martha Hill, former picture editor of Audubon Magazine. Often there are several similar pictures showed as examples. Art gives his viewpoint on the photographs and tells why he took the picture this way. When several pictures are shown, explains the differences and which one he likes best and why. Martha gives her opinion as a photo editor and focuses on which images are publishable. She tells us if she would accept such an image for publication and explains why one image is better than the other. Often maybe not photographically but from a publisher's point of view. So every time there is the viewpoint of the picture maker and the picture buyer. As a nature photographer this not only provides us with the opportunity to learn from Art Wolfe's creativeness, but also to learn something from Martha Hill's decision process in selecting which images will sell and which do not.

book50b.jpg (43446 bytes)As you can see in the image to the left, often the book shows several nearly identical images of the same subject. Art describes which he likes best and why he took it this way. Martha describes which of the images she would select for publication and why.

Still the book is not just a random collection of images. It is divided into nine chapters, seven of these highlighting an aspect of the creative process. The chapters are: isolating the subject, composing the picture, defining your perspective, the power of color, the elements of design, reading the light and creative options.

At the end of the book there is a chapter called in the field with Art Wolfe focussing on fieldcraft and techniques. Not in a text-book style but again with photographs as examples. The final chapter is called at the light table with Martha Hill. She explains the job of a picture editor and gives advice on composing and sending submissions to a publisher.

Conclusion: Quite a difference from the "normal" course books on nature photography. But a very welcome difference. For any nature photographer wanting to improve his work and thinking of having his pictures published, this book is a great help. It shows which images will sell and which do not. Moreover it also explains why. And as a kind of added bonus, you will get a beautiful photography book with the great work of Art Wolfe as well. So this a book I can surely recommend to any serious nature photographer!

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All text and images 1991 - 2011 Hans Martens