The Ultimate Guide to Digital Nature Photogaphy by the Mountain Trail Photo team (Richard Bernabe, Ian Plant, Jerry Greer, Joseph Rossbach, George Stocking, Bill Lea, Guy Tal, Nye Simmons, Jim Clark, and Marc Adamus).
This review covers the second edition printed in Summer 2009.
The photographers who comprised the now defunct Mountain Trail Photo team are outstanding. If you are unfamiliar with any of the authors please take a minute to correct that oversight. This review will be here when you are done.
Being a photography book, written by many great photographers, it should go without saying that this book is a filled with great photographs on almost every page.
The book features a forward, seven chapters, an epilogue, and two appendixes. So… 11 sections overall. The chapters are: introduction, equipment, making the image, composition, light, special effects, making magical images, and digital workflow. An epilogue covers “turning pro” and the appendixes feature a “photography calendar” and “scene tutorials”.
An observant reader will already know what is coming next. The book is geared towards individuals starting out. For that reason this review will follow the same path.
The book outlines the importance of learning ones’ gear. It also explains the standard equipment one might find in a landscape photographers bag. Tips and advice are provided to help direct a new photographer to learn their equipment. Readers can save money by following the included advice by conducting some further research on specific gear.
Personally Chapter Four, covering light, was the most helpful. It covers different types of light and what subject matter is best paired with that light type. This is valuable as it causes the reader to think about the often overlooked types of light such as side lighting and backlighting.
Overall, there are a few minor items in the book that have simply become outdated since 2009 (ISO capabilities of cameras, and standard monitor resolution). No book which references modern technology remains 100% accurate. In fact most are out of date by the time they hit bookshelves. Therefore, this book holds up surprisingly well to the knowledge base a modern photographer needs to fully understand.
The true sum of the book is best comprised by the paragraph that states:
“Beautiful scenery does not necessarily translate into incredible photographs. And conversely, unattractive scenery can sometimes yield beautiful images. You need to remember that any nature scene, whether stunning to begin with or not, needs to be treated the right way and shot in the right light to make it really stand out.”
Now, the obvious bad must be mentioned. The book was printed in China by a company who saved money on the binding. The glued spine separated from the cover within two days of it arriving. Additionally the smaller groupings of pages are starting to come apart from one another. This book was purchased used (in what I considered “new” condition), but regardless the mentioned items are a known problem if you reference Amazon reviews.
All things considered this book is a must purchase for anyone starting out. In fact I wish I had purchased it many years ago. Additionally, the photographs alone is enough for me to recommend this book to anyone who still considers themselves an amateur. The photography calendar will be helpful to a photographer of any level if they do not already reference one. “Serious” amateurs can probably skip the purchase however.
In conclusion the book is a solid purchase. Just be sure to have a 3-hole punch and binder handy. That’s how my copy is going to be handled so it can remain near the desk.