I have an interest in both weather and photography, and am kind of a beginner with both. I was surprised to find this book written by an obviously well-educated man who knows his Latin and certainly knows his weather. Storm Dunlop's explanations are concise and absolutely packed with information. I like how he tries to keep information grouped on similar topics across a one or two-page spread. This man clearly knows his weather - after a few pages I found myself thinking, "This guy does not write like your average photographer." In fact, he writes authoritatively as one who is highly educated and experienced at observing weather phenomena. The irony of the author's name is also not lost on me.
I am fascinated by science and by photography, but not by technological lingo about cameras. I had a hard time muddling through the equipment and photography explanations at the beginning of the book, in which some mention is made of how all this relates to weather, but for the most part, the author sticks to describing the basics of a camera, what you can make the camera do and what kind of equipment you may find helpful.
I think it must be hard to write a book on this topic because so many people want different things from a book on weather photography. The bulk of the time, I felt like I was reading a superbly photographed science textbook, and I was fascinated. It is a science textbook, in a way, but it is written specifically with the photographer in mind. This book is written for the photographer who is first and foremost an observer (which ought to be all photographers, right?), so that he can set about observing things knowledgeably. Really, even though the tips one needs for making particular types of photos might be lacking, as one reviewer has pointed out, as a beginner in weather photography all I am looking for is an understanding of what I am seeing. The fact that these explanations are made clearly, concisely and thoroughly by someone with knowledge in the sciences and a passion for photography makes the book a perfect place to start. If you have an inquiring mind, you will want to know what you are photographing anyway and what the value of your photos could be to meteorologists and weather enthusiasts. I especially appreciate that the author outlines the rarity of certain events, so that I know exactly what to keep an eye out for and what is going on in the atmosphere when I see it.
I think it was Mark Twain who said that a river would lose its beauty the longer you worked on the riverboats, as you came to know the meaning of each swirl in the water and adjust accordingly for what might be endangering your boat. After hearing this I had a fear that the more I learned about things like clouds, the more I would see them with a cold scientific eye and the less I would be able to simply enjoy them. The mixture of science and beautiful imagery in this book erases the chances of that happening in the hands of this particular author. In fact I feel armed and ready to go out and find all sorts of beautiful things to photograph now that I understand what they are and how they occur.
The photos are beautifully done and inspiring. I loved the addition of a short section on stereoscopic photography, something not often utilized these days. The author has challenged me to see not just the aesthetic and entertainment value of this charming photographic trick, but the value of it as a serious tool for modern-day weather enthusiasts. My only problem is that I can't figure out how to cross my eyes. Other than that small disappointment, I really enjoy the book and can't wait to see what will be in the sky tomorrow! Thank you, Mr. Dunlop, for your wonderful book!
4 stars, due to the fact that my anti-technological mind refuses to digest the opening chapter.
I have a few more comments to add now that I have completed the book. First, I should say that after carefully reading and rereading many parts of the book, looking at the sky is a completely different experience for me. I take far more cloud pictures than I used to, and I notice far more phenomena in the sky than I ever imagined were there before. It is really a treat now just to look up and more deeply enjoy what I am seeing. Sometimes I feel like the only person around who is bothering to observe the sky in this way. I honestly wish others could know the same joy.
Second, I now feel that the book has a few areas in need of improvement. As I was reading, I noticed two things in particular: The author has a habit of mentioning special cloud types without explaining them or providing photographs. It was very frustrating to have a phenomenon named but not properly described or pictured.
And second, the captions of some very basic cloud type photos show cluds that are borderline or atypical for their type in some way. These examples should not be the main ones in an introductory text.The photos were merely confusing and left me having to guess at what was normal. A beginner needs to know what is ordinary before they can appreciate what is unusual or extraordinary. Of course, some photos are meant to show things that are very atypical, and these photos certainly belong in the book, but not to the exclusion of images that teach us to identify the normal ranges of cloud types. The interplay of photos and text ought to make more sense.
I also felt that the method of introducing the names of various cloud "subspecies" could be much better organized, on top of lacking photos and proper descriptions. They could and should be introduced more systematically, not simply sprinkled here and there without much rhyme or reason.
I hope that the author has a chance to release another edition of this book. Despite its shortcomings, it certainly was fascinating and inspiring. It gave me a joy and an appreciation for the sky that I have not known for a long time, and it has given me the impetus to start becoming a better photographer and observer of the sky wherever I go.