John Shaw’s Guide to Digital Nature Photography by John Shaw

John Shaw’s Guide to Digital Nature Photography is thorough, comprehensive, and beautifully photographed. The author has written several previous books on the subject and it shows –  this newest iteration really embraces the digital era while also answering about any question a new or even experienced photographer could ask about the topic.  The information is well presented, easy to digest, but also extremely comprehensive in breadth and depth. The tone is friendly, encouraging, and very down to Earth. It felt very much like sitting down and getting a personal course from an expert.

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The book breaks down as follows: 1: Gear; 2: Getting Started; 3:Lenses; 4: Composition; 5: Close Ups; 6: The Photographer At Work; Index. Although 200 pages may seem like a small amount, the contents will take several hours to pour through and even more to try and eventually master.  There really is a huge amount of information packed into an efficiently formatted presentation.

In the beginning of the book, the basics of digital photography are deeply explained but always with the emphasis on nature/macro. The author gives his own tips, equipment, and what he’s found works and doesn’t work. At the same time, since he isn’t backed or sponsored, you know he is giving an honest opinion on the equipment. But what I found most interesting is that he thoroughly explains all the different camera settings on typical digital cameras (he shoots Nikon and so uses it as an example but doesn’t require readers to buy Nikon to understand). This is often a topic not covered by manuals or guides and really very useful.

Those more advanced in other photography disciplines or fields (e.g., portraiture) can easily skip the first chapters (or glance through to fill in learning holes) and delve right into the specifics of shooting nature. There are so many little things to know, understand, feel, and try – and getting this book instead of a group of lenses of flashes and fumbling through is highly recommended. The author does an excellent job of narrowing only in on what you need and what you can expect for your budget constraints. For once, this isn’t a book that will recommend $5000 lenses or huge lighting rigs.

The subjects are varied – from animals to landscapes, macros to scenics. Perhaps the only subject I didn’t see covered is underwater photography. But all subjects are thoroughly covered with much more writing than images (though the images are inspirational and numerous). As well, images match with the subjects and aren’t just randomly strewn through the book. There is clearly a lot of thought gone into the book and Shaw has taken what he’s learned from previous books to really make a solid guide to everything nature photography.

I read this on an online reader but I’d recommend either a physical copy or a graphical reader rather than a Kindle or Paperwhite. It’s worth it for the lovely image and solid formatting – there’s a lot of information here to go through!  In all, an excellent book – one of the best on the subject I’ve read. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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