Book reviews:    Digital Nature Photography

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Digital Nature Photography
Jon Cox
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A few weeks ago I received this book with the title: Digital nature photography. Since I photograph on film only and scan my slides afterwards with a high resolution scanner (giving me 25 to 40 megapixel files in 48bit color),  I had some mixed feelings about this book. For me nature photography is a mainly creative process, regardless of the media type (film or flashcard). So I was a bit afraid of a book just shouting "digital is better". However this book was pleasant to read and not at all about a war between film and digital. Most of the book is also interesting to photographers who use film and have an interest in nature photography.

The book is printed by Amphoto in the usual way on nice glossy paper with detail for the photographs. Of course all images in the book are made with digital equipment, both a digital SLR system and a "point-and-shoot" Nikon Coolpix. Especially with close up or macro photographs, it is usually impossible to tell whether the picture has been taken with the SLR or the Coolpix camera, without looking at the caption.

As usual the book starts of with a chapter on equipment. Besides things as cameras and lenses, this deals with real hardware in the form of computers, printers and memory cards too. And of course something that can't be forgotten when working digital: the batteries! Since the author uses Nikon equipment only, all of the examples described are about Nikon equipment as well. He is however not a Nikon addict, or at least knows how to hide it.:-) So the book is very suitable for users of other brands as well.

Chapters two, three and four deal with the basic photographic techniques and things as light and compostion. Most of the contents of these chapters is pretty universal and not specifically aimed at digital photography. Though there is also some information on white balance as well. Aperture (depth of field) and shutterspeed are desceribed as well as exposure. The content is aimed pretty much at the beginner's level.

Then a large part of the book deals with specific subjects, like landscapes, patterns, snow etc. Other part deal with sunrise and sunset, animal portraits, close ups and action photography. The part about close ups being the biggest as this seems to be a place where the Nikon Coolpix feels at home.

The book ends with a pretty controversial subject which seems to loose more and more of it's controversy as digital photography becomes more widely used: manipulation. In my personal opinion image manipulation and nature photography do not mix. Nature photography is about showing nature in it's natural way. Not by manipulating it into something the photographer would want it to be. The author however shows some examples of how manipulation can be used.

Conclusion: A nice book on nature photography. Despite the title it may also be interesting to photographers using film instead of digital cameras. But it will be mainly read by digital photographers I guess. For those starting out in (nature) photography with a digital camera it is a very interesting book, worth buying.

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All text and images 1991 - 2011 Hans Martens