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Creative Nature & Outdoor Photography, Revised Edition [Paperback]

Brenda Tharp

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Book Description

Feb. 23 2010
A classic guide to creative nature photography, now updated for the digital world.

Amateur and experienced photographers interested in taking more compelling, personal images will love this new edition of Creative Nature & Outdoor Photography, now updated to address the exciting possibilities (and challenges) of digital image-making. Author Brenda Tharp’s inspiring approach has garnered fans all over the world, as she teaches that magical skill no camera can do for you: learn how to “see.” Readers expand their photographic vision and discover deep wellsprings of creativity as they learn to use light, balance, color, design, pattern, texture, composition, and many simple techniques to take a photo from ordinary to high-impact.

Featuring more than 150 stunning, all-new images, Creative Nature & Outdoor  Photography, Revised Edition is for anyone who understands the basic technical side to photography but wants to wake up their creative vision.

Frequently Bought Together

Creative Nature & Outdoor Photography, Revised Edition + The Art of Photography: An Approach to Personal Expression + Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera
Price For All Three: CDN$ 69.89

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Amphoto Books; Revised edition edition (Feb. 23 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0817439617
  • ISBN-13: 978-0817439613
  • Product Dimensions: 28 x 21.6 x 1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 662 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #83,280 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

BRENDA THARP is an award-winning photographer, writer, and teacher specializing in travel, nature, and outdoor photography. Her images have been featured in numerous magazines and books, and she teaches throughout the United States, including Maine Media Workshops, Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, the Rocky Mountain School of Photography, Point Reyes Field Seminars, and She can be found at

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  33 reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very great, could have been better Oct. 1 2010
By JV - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a great book to get you motivated to take more interesting landscapes/nature photos. It's strong on composition ideas, and organized very nicely. It's not at all heavy on the technical aspects, and it specifically is not meant to be (go to your local library and you can find dozens of books on the technical aspects of photography).

There were a few things that bugged me along the way. First of all, this new edition is 100% digital, whereas the first version was 100% film. This doesn't change that much in regards to photo creativity or composition, but the first version had helpful sections about how to compensate for certain lighting conditions depending on what kind of film you were using. Plus that means 100% of the photos in the first book were film, 100% digital in the second book, and no two are the same. I think it would be worth it to read both and compare photos from both. She constantly mentions in the second edition how easy digital manipulation is, so I'll bet that changed her approach when she was actually in the field.

For all of her example photos, she lists the size of her lens, the focal length at which she used it, shutter speed, and aperture. No ISO. Again, this is not meant to be a technical book, but I could see a newbie trying to match her settings to the best of their knowledge, getting bad results, and becoming discouraged. I also mention this because she wrote down her film speed for every shot in the first edition. And I hate to say it, but she claims to use a six thousand dollar Canon DSLR throughout this book, and there's a very real advantage as far as way higher, way cleaner ISOs being at your disposal when you're in the field shooting at very small apertures.

Sometimes she'll tell a really great, detailed story about how she figured out something in the field or how something fell into place for a truly memorable photo, and the photos on that page are of completely unrelated situations, so you can't see what she's even talking about. Though most of the time, she does include quality photographs related to the subject about which she's writing.

The last thing that bothered me was the typos. I can't say there's a lot of them but there's a half dozen very obvious ones that take away from the book. The "wondeorful" plug-ins she uses in Photoshop (pg. 127) and getting feedback "fr/om" your viewer (pg. 19) distract from the purty, purty picture on the opposite page. But that's just me.

Overall this is a very great book, full of very great photos. This is THE book to get once you've read up on shutter speed, aperture, and all the other boring technical bits. I've never read something about depth of field in a technical book and wanted to go out shooting, but I'll read one page in this book about diagonal lines, complementary colors, or the different qualities of light and I'll instantly be tempted to grab my camera and go out shooting.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars a lot of "what" but little "how" Aug. 20 2011
By OregonCoast - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read this book following Ken Rockwell's recommendation on his website. He writes that Brenda Tharpe's book "cover[s] everything you need to know, like seeing light, shadow, balance, composition, color, interpretation, texture, and everything that matters". Yes, the importance of these variables are mentioned. What is lacking in Tharpe's explanations is how to conceptualize and realize your objective. She states several times the need to experiment, practice, and become accustomed to using your equipment. Omitting the process from visual concept to physical photograph is fine, I suppose, because many references dwell upon technical procedures. What Tharpe crucially lacks is how to crystallize one's creative ambitions into a compelling visual concept; that is, the step before taking the picture. This initial step is essential in a book with the word "creative" in its title.

The book reads like a one-person photo exhibit of rather eclectic subjects and techniques, where the photographer cheerfully comments on each picture. "I waited several hours for the orca to breach", "See how I captured the dominance of the Golden Gate bridge" ... Being an artisan does not necessarily make one a teacher.

Tharpe mentions "style" in her book, and an admonition she received many years ago that her work was merely postcard material devoid of her presence. I closed the book (it took only 3 hours to read) with a puzzling aftertaste: What _is_ Tharpe's style? If anything, her photos are nice postcards, calendars, tourism brochures, and stock photo material. Which are qualities I admire. Her technique and perseverance are present, but her character is not. Perhaps a self-critique of her own style and an introspective analysis of how she developed it might help readers transition from stirring emotions to visual concepts.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wisdom for photographers of Any skill level Dec 12 2010
By Scott Estes - Published on
A Buddhist proverb says, "when the student is ready, a teacher will appear." Brenda Tharp may be that teacher for this mediocre photography student. I've had her book for a while, and I find myself returning to it again and again, often with an "OH! That's what she Meant." This is not a "how to" book, it's far more useful than that. Rather, this slim volume challenges you think about using photography to express ideas, vision, interests beyond pretty pictures that simply record a place or time. Tharp provides the minimum technical details along with her photographs, but the emphasis is on creating images that convey to the viewer what the shooter intended---and, for the shooter to think about what they are trying to say. The book is a treasure for photographers of Any skill level but is aimed at those with dSLRs. Whether youre moving up from point `n shoots or have a large collection of lenses and bodies, much wisdom can be found here---if you're willing to do the necessary work.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars B. Tharp "Artist" Oct. 27 2010
By Robert Martineau - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I had been away from serious photography for many years. About 1 year ago I had taken up painting, and needed some reference photos to use with the painting. I was so pleased with the photo results, that I've rediscovered photography. I've read several books, but the 2 that I'm most pleased with are Creative Nature & Outdoor Photography and Bryan Peterson's Understanding Photography Field Guide. Both are excellent and I'd recommend them to anyone who wants to understand what their camera is capable of doing. But most important, how to see a quality photo even before it is shot.
When I read it is with a highlighter in hand. There is hardly a page in either book that I haven't marked or written a note to myself inspired by what I had just read.
The bonus of these books is the photographic examples the authors use. If you bought Creative Nature & Outdoor Photography, just for the remarkable photos it would be worth the price.
Maybe you know someone with an budding interest in photgraphy, consider these books as a gift to them. They'll become much better and faster photographers than learning on their own.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational Sept. 19 2010
By Jorge Perez Garcia - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Inspirational about how to face the process of creating a great picture. Weak when it comes to technical digital photografy skills. She shouldn't get into this. Overall it is really poetry to read how passionate and right she speaks about photography. I would buy it again for sure. Helps you remember what you are looking for when you are playing around with your camera.

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