on December 10, 2003
One thing I noticed (I see Conrad O. made mention of it also) is the complete absence of discussion regarding the histogram -- the term does not appear in the index or the text. The proper use of the histogram is one of the most important topics that should have been covered!
There is little that addresses issues of digital workflow -- except to show that, golly, I can take my laptop with me hiking! There is a chapter on using photoshop, but nothing on precision color balancing, calibrating your monitor, getting quality prints, step by step workflow of how to do useful things in photoshop efficiently such as using photoshop to take the place of graduated neutral density filters, nor any discussion of helpful photoshop plug-ins. It's more on the lines of, Golly I used a couple photoshop tricks and look what a change it made!
Overall, the quality of the photos presented is just not of the caliber to be expected in a book of this kind. There are a good many winners, but for quite a few of the images my recurring reaction was, ahh -- another nice snapshot.
A book that says little more than "Golly I can photograph nature with a digital camera!" may have been fine in 1998 or 1999. But a book about digital nature photography published in 2003 should offer much, much more.
Although this book does cover a wide breadth of photographic topics, even beginning photographers will soon outgrow it. For a general introduction, much better is John Shaw's Field Guide to Nature Photography. For nature photography with digital content I would recommend Niall Benvie's The Art of Nature Photography, or perhaps (I hope) Digital Photography Expert: Nature and Landscape Photography : The Definitive Guide For Serious Digital Photographers by Michael Freeman (April, 2004). Digital in nature photography is still relatively new -- I would recommend passing on this book (or maybe looking for it in the library) and waiting for books to emerge that offer a greater depth and quality of content.
on December 3, 2003
'Digital Nature Photography' by Jon Cox is quite simply the best book I have ever read on digital photography of any kind.
It is a must read for anyone who is moving to digital photography either as a hobby or on a professional level. What makes this book so good is that Jon has obviously made the transition from film to digital himself, and writes knowingly about issues anyone will encounter when approaching digital photography. These include such topics as digital media, batteries, tripods, and what quality of jpeg images to use.
Not only does Jon address subject's exclusive to digital photography but the body of the book is a primer on photographic techniques in general. These topics are illustrated with magnificent pictures from Jon's portfolio and will act as an inspiration to photographers at any level. Subject such as how to shoot in snow, how to shoot during sunrise and sunset, and photography after dark are explained in a simple concise style that provide a rode map to success for anyone willing to try his techniques. He even has closed his book with an "assignment sheet" of ideas a budding photographer can work on to master the techniques included in the book.
Weather you are a budding enthusiast or a serious photographer looking for a refresher and some new ideas, I cannot recommend this book more highly.
on November 5, 2003
This book will prove most useful to beginning digital camera users who are moderately interested in nature photography. The author covers the process from taking the picture to manipulating the image in the computer. More advanced photographers should look elsewhere.
The book is divided into chapters first dealing with photography principles, like light and color, and then into chapters dealing with specific subjects, like sunrise and sunset. Each chapter is then broken up into subheadings, each of which gets a page or two. The author has tried to keep the information and guidance general so that it can be helpful to all digital camera users. The material is easily read. Unfortunately, his approach often creates broad generalizations that are of little use.
Unlike film, where, after taking a picture, the medium can be brought to a photofinisher who will finish the job of creating a paper image or slide, digital media usually require some sort of downloading from the camera to a computer, and then a printer. While this process can be very simple for the user, (it's possible to download your pictures right to a printer, although to get the most from the digital process, some manipulation is usually desirable). The author recognizes this by showing a couple of before and after images that he has manipulated with Photoshop software. Unfortunately, in this chapter, he goes into a level of technical detail far beyond that contained elsewhere in the volume that only someone trained in Photoshop will understand. . In addition, I think the author may leave the impression that Photoshop's main use is altering reality. While that is one use, I consider the program to be designed to allow you to make a photograph look the way you envisioned it at the time you took the picture.
A problem with the approach Cox takes is that anyone interested in the control that digital photography provides over the image will be unsatisfied. For example, many digital cameras provide histograms of the picture taken. (Histograms are graphic representations of the distribution of light values in a picture.) The histogram is perhaps the single most potent tool offered by the digital photography, allowing photographers to insure they got the best exposure possible for their vision. Yet there is not one reference to histograms in the entire volume
In summary, if you are a beginner, interested in taking digital nature pictures, but not ready to immerse yourself too deeply in the technology, this will be a fine book for you.
For those who want to delve more deeply, I can't recommend a single book. On the general topic of nature photography, John Shaw's "Nature Photography Field Guide" is outstanding, although there is no consideration of digital procedures. To examine what makes digital photography different from film photography and how to capitalize on the differences, I recommend "Shooting Digital: Pro Tips for Taking Great Pictures with Your Digital Camera" by Mikkel Aaland (although I'm sure there are even better volumes out there with which I'm not familiar). Finally, for learning Photoshop I recommend "Photoshop Artistry" by Barry Haynes. This last provides a series of tutorials on Photoshop aimed specifically at photographers. It will take a while to work through but there's really no quick way to learn this most important piece of software for the digital photographer.
on September 7, 2003
A friend recommended this book to me and I would like to pass on the same recommendation. In a new digital world Cox has not forgotten the importance of creating a strong image. I love that this book offers artistic advice AND gives helpful hints about how to use the digital camera and computer as tools for creating the final image. It seems as though he isn't caught up in digital for the sake of digital. Lately I've seen work from photographers that digitally "enhance" their pictures with tricky photoshop filters, but dismiss the initial content of the piece. It's like the difference between a quality psychological thriller and a movie that relies solely on special effects. Cox stays true to his subject, by making his images as close to what the eye sees and what the mind remembers. His photography is strong for photography's sake and the digital camera just happens to be his tool. He points out all of the benefits a digital camera has to offer, while at the same time offering his advice about constructing an interesting image. I would also like to point out the use of variety in his imagery. It ranges from incredible scenes in Africa, to untouchable icy images in Antartica, but then comes right into your backyard. His backyard shots were just as dynamic as his far away places, which gave me hope for my own photography. It's really kind of funny, actually, that his book is about nature, but taken with digital tools and you would never know it. If you are just starting out with a digital camera or know someone else who is buy them this book!
on August 19, 2003
When I picked up "Digital Nature Photography," I had never heard of Jonathan Cox-a quick scan of the stunning digital photos (anybody opening this book will never question the potential of digital photography) made it apparent that this man knows what he's doing. But after viewing all the photos, I found myself equally drawn by Cox's words. His passion for both photography and nature is clear, and it sets his book apart from the glut of sterile photography books that make me wonder whether the author ever enjoys simply taking pictures. I'm sure photography makes Cox a handsome living, but I never had the sense that he doesn't thoroughly enjoy seeking, composing, and snapping each shot-and just plain being outdoors.
This enjoyment comes through loud and clear in Cox's writing. Throughout the book are personal anecdotes that are sometimes harrowing, often amusing, usually informative, and always entertaining. He explains complicated concepts in simple terms, without condescending. I particularly appreciated the commentary on each photo, which provided a brief description of the shot (the camera and lens), and a longer discussion on his objective and how he accomplished it. (We also hear about the failures.) So while "Digital Nature Photography" is a must for anybody planning to photograph nature with a digital camera, I think it will be enjoyed by any photographer or aspiring photographer who just appreciates nature.
on December 21, 2003
I writing again to reiterate how helpful this book as been to me. I've read it once the whole way through and now refer to it all the time as a tool for while I'm shooting. I'm not actually a photographer, but instead use photography as a tool for my painting career. I made the switch to digital a few years ago, to help save time. This book as helped not only to teach me about the use of digital photography, but has given me the added bonus of helpful hints about photography in general from an artistic perspective. In the past my images were over and under exposed, but now I am able to capture the detail I need for painting reference. In addition, Cox has provided helpful hints about photoshop tools, which help to enhance any lack of detail I may have in my initial photograph. Also, his captions with each photograph are extremely useful in understanding how he captured each shot. Thanks, Jon Cox, for writing this book!
on July 3, 2003
This book is fantastic! I just purchased a digital camera about a year ago and have been waiting for a book to help me out. For the past year I have kept my coolpix 995 on the automatic setting, as I am unsure about all of the other settings. While the manual that came with my camera explains all of the different settings it is very difficult to understand, and therefore so intimidating that I give up. Within the first few paragraphs of Cox's book I was instantly thankful for explanations of confusing terms like "ccd"! I am not finished reading the book, but wanted to let everyone know how great it is. On top of very conversational reading the pictures are astounding! A lot of books will have amazing photographs that you think you could never capture, but Cox has such a warm delivery of his tips that I feel maybe someday I could come close to capturing some of the same images.
on December 21, 2003
I just wanted to pass along my appreciation for the book, "Digital Nature Photography". I've recently upgraded to a Canon G5 after discovering I had a decent eye while using an old Canon A20. As I made this jump I wanted to understand how to take better nature and landscape photographs, my favorite subjects, and this book came highly recommended by a friend. It cuts straight to the important information and reads very easily. I've gained a lot as a result of reading it.
Also, beneath each photo example the author explains what he was trying to accomplish and how he went about it; not all books do this. This is very helpful. He organizes the book very well. Not only does this make for an easy read, but also works as a great reference guide.
Bottom line: if you enjoy taking digital nature photography and want to get better, pickup this book.
on December 21, 2003
This is a great reference for easing your way into digital nature photography. I have been shooting nature on 35mm film for about 20 years and I finally bought a digital SLR camera. Cox explains the new digital terminology so everyone can easily understand it. He gives information about the various camera settings, file formats, white balance and some helpful Photoshop techniques. It was also a good refresher on how depth of field, ISO settings and shutter speeds work to construct a photograph. You can also learn a lot from just looking at his images. He shows different lighting, close-up, landscape and portrait techniques and explains what he did to capture the photograph. If you are new to photography or making the switch to digital this is an excellent book!
on December 3, 2003
This slim volume is more about nature photography in general than about digital photography specifically. The images are certainly nice, but one gets the impression that this book was produced mainly to provide a gallery for the author's digital photos. The written information is rather scanty, unlike Ben Long's comprehensive "Complete Digital Photography" book. Although digital and conventional photography are very similar, to get the most out of digital imagery there are many differences that must be dealt with, particularly as regards processing images captured in the digital format.