Friday , April 12 2024
Do you want your wildlife photography to go from snapshots to great shots?

Book Review: Wildlife Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots by Laurie Excell

What does it take to capture quality images of wildlife? Sure you can just go out and snap some pictures of an animal or bird and perhaps you might even get lucky and capture a really good image. But is that what you want to base your time out in the field on – just luck? To take consistent quality images takes observation, patience, practice, perseverance, as well as a lot of time behind the camera.

In her latest book, Wildlife Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots, wildlife photographer Laurie Excell will take you behind the scenes and show you what it takes as well as what you need to capture truly great images out in the field. Wildlife Photography is 240 pages in length and is contained in 10 chapters.

Chapter 1, “Equipment Essentials,” begins by looking at the kind of equipment you need to capture great shots. This does not mean you have to have the best equipment – especially when you are starting out. Here she will look at everything from a budget setup through the ultimate package. She also explains the difference between full sensor vs. cropped sensor, lens selections, teleconverters, using flash, tripods, and more.

Chapter 2, “Camera Settings and Shooting Techniques,” now examines the get-it-right first steps needed for taking a great shot. Then you will look at camera settings, shooting RAW vs. JPEG, the use of aperture priority mode, the use of matrix metering, proper panning, and shooting techniques.

Chapter 3, “Exposure Simplified,” examines the relationship of ISO, aperture, and shutter speed to each other as well as how they relate to the light coming into the camera. In this chapter you will learn how the exposure triangle works, how to control depth-of-field, about the different kinds of light, and how to put them all together to take better shots.

Chapter 4, “Get to Know Your Subject,” deals with the world of wildlife photography, which is just as important as understanding your equipment. By knowing your subject you will better be able to anticipate their particular behaviors and patterns. You will now learn how research and gain an understanding of the particular wildlife you are shooting. You will also learn about the types of photographs to take as well as learning about ethics while in the wild.

Chapter 5, “Location, Location, Location,” addressed the issue that can mean everything when it comes to successful wildlife photography. You have to be in the right place at the right time to get really successful shots. Through the use of careful planning and preparation you can find the best locations for what you want to shoot. Here you will explore some of the various places that you can go to and get great shots. These include your own back yard, the zoo, wildlife refuges, workshops, and more.

Chapter 6, “Close Encounters,” means trying to get closer to your subject to get better shots whether it is by having a longer lens or physically moving closer. This chapter looks at techniques that the author uses to get closer such as increased magnification, the use of blinds, or moving in slowly and carefully.

Chapter 7, “Creative Composition,” is all about creating a pleasing arrangement of the elements within the frame of your picture. It is an art to direct your viewer’s eyes to your subject. Here you will begin with the basics such as using lines, shapes, and patterns, and then look at perspective, the use of backgrounds, and other framing techniques.

Chapter 8, “Beyond the Basics,” now takes what you have learned so far and will add that little extra to allow you to come back from the field with a higher percentage of keepers, more unusual shots, and tricks to take your abilities to the next level. In this chapter you will learn of exposure compensation, working with the histogram, panning your camera, and the use of extension tubes.

Chapter 9, “Bear Tales,” reminds you of why it is called wildlife. Here the author shares some of the realities of wildlife photography and some of the ups and downs when working in the field. She also looks at working out in the field, getting to locations, clothing and gear that you need, as well as a full description of a trip to shoot Alaskan brown bears.

Chapter 10, “Birds of a Feather,” takes a look at one of the author’s favorite bird photography spots. This time the location is south Texas where the weather can be hot so you will see what to pack for a trip into the heat and for shooting birds.

Wildlife Photography, like all of the “From Snap Shots to Great Shot” books, is well organized, easy to understand, and well written by an expert in the field. It takes you from the basics through all of the techniques that you will need to be successful. At the start of each chapter are images that point out things that make them work as great shots.

I also like the fact that this book will work for those whose capabilities won’t allow them to get out to more exotic locals and may be limited to their own local areas or to nearby zoos. If you want to learn how to shoot wildlife photography and want to learn how to do it right then I highly recommend Wildlife Photography.

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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