National Geographic Ultimate Field Guide to Photography (Photography Field Guides) Paperback – 21 Apr 2009
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The old one was perfectly sized for carrying in a pocket or a camera bag, and full of inspirational photos and images in addition to excellent information of the actual mechanics of shooting a camera, how Lenses, Apertures, Flash, Shutter Speed and ISO worked. It could be pulled out at any time to be reviewed, studied, or poured over for inspiration.
It was small, easy to read, and full of inspirational pictures.
It spent a lot of time teaching the reader to take great photos through the lens. It explained the use of different lenses, both fixed focal length and Zoom, and when to use each; It explained aperture use; it explained different ISOs and when to use different kinds of film; it explained lighting, both studio and outdoor, how to use a meter and how to use a flash; how to compose a shot, using different framing and focusing and lighting techniques to make it more interesting.
It spent almost no time explaining darkroom or post-production editing techniques
In short, it explained how to take great pictures.
This one however, dedicates the majority of its space to post-production, over a third to equipment (including nearly 30 pages dedicated to camera phones), and less than 25% of the space in the book to the process of actually taking pictures.
It's oversized, poorly laid out, and hard to navigate.
The old one fit in your pocket, the new one is a college textbook style which barely fits on a bookshelf. There are some nice photos in here, but so many of them are outsized or double-page spreads that there's little inspiration to be had. The textbook style means that the double-page spread photos don't pull apart into a single spread so well, and far too many images take up more than a single page. Even worse, an inappropriate number of the pictures in this book are screenshots of software dialog boxes.
It would be better called the Adobe Textbook Guide to Fixing, Printing and Saving your snapshots on a Computer.
I found no inspiration in this book at all. A good photographer can use any kind of camera to take pictures, and should aim to get the picture they want at the time, not shoot and hope to fix it afterwards in post. The old guide taught you to do that. This one? Not so much.
This book tries to cover everything, including scanners for photos and archiving. It even had a chapter on the development of photography, from the earliest discoveries of how light darkens certain chemicals to the development of color, etc.
If you are totally new to photography, I can see this book being helpful. For a field guide, I'd still recommend the previous version.
I have a point-and-shoot digital camera. Most of the writers are still stuck in the film era, and rightfully so. When the book was written, there was still a place for film. Now that digital cameras are passing 20 MB, I think that most photography will be digital by 2015.
Chapter 1 is on Point-and-Shoot, but after page 34, the "advice" is about more advanced techniques. Well, I've been taking pictures for 63 years. I've even sold a few. I've never been a "technical" photographer, but more of a "natural" one who has made and corrected mistakes, and at other times disagreed with the pros because I know what I like. More important, I know MY camera's capabilities and deficiencies, and I've even developed some of my own techniques for getting around a few of the negatives (such as my P&S gets poor marks for low light photography).
There's a chapter on aerial photography, and one on just scanning and another on archiving. And yet, this is called a "field guide." It's too big, and cumbersome in more ways than one to be a field guide ... unless you're on safari.
Well, it's not what I was hoping for which was a book of tips and topics that I could USE. The best book for me it turns out is the manual for my SX20 camera. And so my advice would be, learn your camera well. THEN buy this book. One more thing: when you think you've peaked and you're ready for the big time (like buying a lens the size of a bazooka for your new $5,000 DSLR), wait a few months. The fantastic picture you take today may be the average picture you look at next year. There's always room for improvement, and there's always a thing called luck.