Kirkus Review 2014
An informative guide that tackles important topics, from what nature photography is to perfecting technique to caring for equipment.
Williams, a nature writer and photographer for over four decades, wrote this guide to help photographers of all experience levels improve their craft. Refusing to rely on Photoshop, the book explains the skills and attention required to truly “see” the natural beauty of a subject and to successfully record it as a digital image. While Williams doesn’t go over the mechanical nuts and bolts of a camera, he does explain the fundamentals, such as the relationship between shutter speed, f-number (aperture) and ISO (film speed) for correct depth of field, especially in landscape shots. Once a frustrated shutterbug himself, Williams dispenses advice, using his own professional experience to relay habits and techniques. At times, the tone can seem a bit critical in regard to the ways of others, but the information is clearly related, uncluttered by extraneous information or needless data; often, it’s also illustrated with a personal story or anecdote. The book is split into various categories—Landscapes, Still Life Photography, Photographing Mammals, Photographing Birds, etc.—in which Williams shares his secrets, tips and tricks for good photos of a particular subject. For instance, Williams says, the key to a good landscape photo is a powerful foreground. The text also carefully addresses common mistakes made in nature photography, usually pertaining to color representation, critical focus, or a lack of attention to the focal point of an image. In the chapter on equipment, Williams focuses on service above status. Some photographers feel only top of the line will do, but Williams helpfully discusses where bare minimums are acceptable and where frugality should never be considered; he even points out how certain bells and whistles can create issues. At the end of each chapter is a “Project” section, which ranges from enumerating important tips, further suggestions and advice, exercises to improve technique, and actual projects such as how to make your own reflectors and light-blocking screens. Amid all its solid advice and encouragement, the book centers on a key idea: Always improve, not just your technique; learn to see as a photographer and critically analyze your work. Make your best shots better. As Williams says, “Perfection should be your goal if you take your photographic work seriously.”
A clearsighted, useful book for photographers looking to turn their snapshots into more compelling, meaningful photographs.