Book Review: John Shaw's Guide to Digital Nature Photography



I have always loved looking at pictures of nature.  I used to collect Ansel Adams prints because his pictures were so beautiful.  I would look forward to copies of National Geographic showing up in our mailbox so I could see the pictures that those talented photographers would take to share with us readers, so we could have an inkling of what it was like to travel to new places.  Pictures of mountains, waterfalls, fields of flowers, towering rocks, tree frogs in the rainforest, sea turtles swimming in the ocean, fields of wheat rippling in the wind and ocean waves crashing against the sand have always put me in awe of this wonderful world that we live in.
Over the past 6 months, I have grown to love to take my own photographs of nature.  My pictures have been taken with the camera on my iPhone.  When we recently took our trip to Capitol Reef National Park, I was able to take nice photos, but there were quite a few things that I would have loved to be able to photograph, but my camera had definite limitations.  When we got home from our trip, I read reviews of cameras and studied the different features as if I was in college and studying for a major exam.  I made the decision on what camera to buy, but then I was worried that I wouldn't know which settings to use, which lens was best for different situations, what exposure would be best, and so on.  The next day I saw a copy of "John Shaw's Guide to Digital Nature Photography" on Blogging for Books and I knew that it would be perfect for me.  I requested the book and it arrived 4 days later.

John Shaw divides his book into different sections: gear, getting started, lenses, composition, close-ups, and the photographer at work.  In a book that could be too technical and dry, he inserts a slight sense of humor and beautiful pictures to make it interesting and engaging.  John Shaw gives detailed advice and information about different aspects of digital photography.  He pretty much covers any topic of digital photography that you would be interested in learning more about.

My favorite section of his book (although it was hard to decide on just one) was the composition section. He touches on focusing your picture on the subject and not including the surrounding areas that are not your subject.  He writes quite a bit about lighting and how it effects the character and color of your subject. I will use his tips for framing every time I take a photograph from now on.  And my favorite sentence in the book was when he defined photography.  "The word photography means "painting with light." Notice that the subject of the photograph is not mentioned in this definition; photography is the process of capturing light, not capturing a subject." -John Shaw.  

Along with teaching about digital photography, he has included absolutely beautiful pictures of nature scenery.  With each photograph he has included what equipment he was using, what lens was used, and what exposure was used.

This book is quite technical and would be very good for a digital photographer that has the basics down and now wants to focus on improving their photographs.  As a beginner, this book had some technical wording that I needed to read carefully to understand.  I think any digital photographer would find "John Shaw's guide to Digital Photography" very useful in instruction and helping improve their photographs.  I'm now ready to take my Canon out to try to capture the beauty of this world.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  All thoughts are my own and not swayed by receiving a free copy of this book.

16 comments

  1. I don't think I could ever have such a great nature photos as I see online.. Have to check this book out :)

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    1. I know what you mean Marina. I don't aspire to having prints like his or other professional photographers, but I'd like my photos to turn out nicely and I think now they will. I hope you find some great information. His website and blog have a lot of free information too. The link is where his name is highlighted. =)

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  2. I can't wait to start reading photography books since I bought my DSLR!

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    1. There seems to be a lot to learn!

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  3. I love the combination of the beautiful background and cute little owl in your banner!

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  4. I will have to check this book out!! I recently started my own photography business but I enjoy reading what other people use for different pictures.

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    1. Congratulations Sheena! Do you do portraits or nature photography? I think some of the tips could be used for either. Especially when he is writing about framing and focusing.

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  5. That sounds intriguing! I brought my first DSLR last summer, and I have been practicing since. I also love taking photos of nature!

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    1. I took my camera out for the first time yesterday. I think even after reading the information, it will take quite a bit of playing around to become comfortable. I did notice a huge difference in the clarity of pictures.

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  6. I've been using a Nikon dSLR for years now, and I'm still learning!

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    1. I think we all keep learning new things as we experience them. =)

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  7. Nature photography does sound fun - and a great excuse for going on trips!

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    1. Since I no longer work outside of the home (this blog is more than a 30 hour work week though!), I take the time to go on little day trips a lot. My camera will be great for when I'm exploring new beautiful places.

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  8. Sounds like a great book!! This is just the level of photography that I need work at!

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    1. It is a great book Lindi. It has wonderful tips that you can use with regular photography as well as nature photography. I read a little of the book again this weekend since I am going on a trip soon and wanted to remember some of his tips.

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