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4.0 out of 5 stars Potential, 15 July 2013
I. Darren (Fi) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Digital Wildlife Photography (Hardcover)
This is a book with a bit of an identity crisis. In essence a great guide that will serve as an introduction to photographing wildlife in their natural habitat.

Yet a real beginner will probably not be going out on safari or tracking wild animals armed with an iPhone or a point and shoot pocket camera. So it must beg the question was it really necessary for this book to spend an inordinate amount of time and space on real "newbie" things such as selecting a camera? At this level one should be looking more at the fine tuning of one's equipment, where often a lens or even a part of a support system can cost as much as a beginner's camera or even a good used car. That is before one looks at the costs of travel to these fine places. Of course, you don't have to have a top-of-the-line camera and all the toys to take a good wildlife photograph, but it sure can help.

Once one's equipment is in order the authors turn their attention to "exposure strategies" and once again there is a hell of a lot of material here that every beginner's guide would have covered ad infinitum, but the only saving grace is that you can see how it is relevant and how it impacts on wildlife photography compared to, for example, taking pictures of skyscrapers and landscapes that can have their own challenges and special needs. Looking at focussing is, if you pardon the pun, a lot more focussed and it does raise a lot of interesting, thought provoking matters that can help transform the quality of your photographs in all areas.

Similar chapters looking at the importance of light, the necessity of composition and the aid of flash really draw you in and concentrate on important matters. These chapters have a totally different feel to those complained about previously: it is almost as if there have been two books poorly mashed into one. Fortunately the "key chapters", backed up by (as you would expect) some stunning photographs showing you what could be possible with a lot of luck, plenty of practice and some willing models acts as the saviour for this book. It might be worth it for a couple of good chapters alone, even if you ignore the filler.

The price of the book is a bit of a moot point, particularly in line with the criticisms raised, although if you view the investment as costing less than an hour of a professional's time it still could be a good deal. A whole-hearted recommendation is not possible and, to be fair, if you are really and truly a new beginner who has a large "toy budget" and is shortly off on safari then this book IS for you. If you aim to wave about an iPhone or pocket camera at passing lions, tigers and giraffes then don't bother with this book as you will be frustrated by what you can't achieve. If in doubt, check the book out as for this reviewer just a couple of chapters were enough to justify the price, even though one hates the idea of waste.
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Digital Wildlife Photography
Digital Wildlife Photography by John and Barbara Gerlach (Hardcover - 6 Feb. 2013)
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