Amphoto Books, 224 pages, ISBN-10: 0770433154, ISBN-13: 978-0770433154
Twenty years ago digital photography was in its infancy. A recent web search revealed that Kodak, in collaboration with Nikon, had a “digital camera system” available commercially that had a resolution below 2 megapixels and a price well into the five figure range. If you looked at a photo of this system, you had to wonder why anyone would want to carry something so bulky and cumbersome.
In July 1993, Seattle photographer Art Wolfe and former Audubon photography editor Martha Hill published a photography book titled The Art of Photographing Nature. Somewhat surprisingly, this book is still available through Amazon, both new and used. The book offered wasn’t your typical “how-to” text with detailed instructions and laundry lists of what was right and what was wrong, but instead offered images taken by Art along with comments by both Art and Martha about what made these photos strong and why one photo might be considered better than another of the same subject.
This year, some twenty years later Art and Martha, along with digital photography expert Tim Grey, have released an updated version of the book, The New Art of Photographing Nature. While photography has gone through a major evolution since the original book was published, the authors have used the same approach in the new book. Multiple images of the same subject are presented and the both Art and Martha explain why one image is stronger than another or why one might be selected for publication while another might not. Interspersed throughout the book are comments, ideas, and suggestions from Grey on how digital photography can be used to the photographer’s advantage.
The new book contains chapters on composition, perspective, color, design, light, and creativity. It packs a lot of information into just over 200 pages with one or more images on almost every page. Like the original, this is not a typical “how-to” book and it does assume some basic knowledge on the part of the reader. It also is not a book that you need to sit down and read from beginning to end. Instead, you can pick a subject that is of interest to you and start reading there and then move to other areas if and when you want. It can also be read in short bursts of three or four pages at a time.
The book wraps up with three chapters, one by each of the authors, talking about their specific areas of expertise. Art talks about how he works in the field. Martha talks about getting published and telling a story. And Tim talks offers tips for digital photographers.
I highly recommend The New Art of Photographing Nature to anyone with an interest in nature photography although beginning nature photographers may want to read this book along with a more traditional instructional text. While the book focuses on the use of digital tools, all of the information presented can be readily applied to film photography so this book is equally useful to the individual who is still using film as their primary media.