Wednesday, November 22, 2006


book review -- Digital Nature Photography by John Cox

This 160 page Amphoto paperback book was first published in 2003 and focuses on using digital cameras for nature photography. All of the photos in the book were taken with a Nikon Coolpix 990, 995, or Nikon D1x, showing that for at least book size photos, 2 to 6MP photos can provide extremely realistic nature photos. Note that John Cox also has a 2005 book out called "Digital Nature Photography Closeup" which I have not yet read, though am looking forward to reading.

The first few chapters cover the basics of photography, but techniques are slightly modified for the digital camera user. For example when discussing ISO, an example photo is shown with similar exposures at ISO 100 and 800 (varying shutter speeds), something that can be dialed in easily with digital, that would require a film change or developing modification with film. Also, digital specific adjustments like white balance settings, and ability to use wb settings as digital filters are discussed.

Once past the gear and basic techniques chapters, which comprise of the first half of the book, John covers general nature topics incuding landscapes, sunrise & sunset, animal portraits, close-ups, action photography, and digital manipulation.

The best thing about this book are the example photos. The photos taken with the low MP Coolpix cameras are easily on par with the higher megapixel D1x photos, though the D1x and it's ability to mount a Nikor AF VR80-400mm lens is of course used for wildlife (birds and lions) close ups, although bugs, toads, flowers and other macro close-ups are extremely realistic when shot by John with a Coolpix.

More important, and interesting, is that the photos in this book, to my eyes are equivalent in quality and content to the photos in any of the nature and wildlife photo books I've read so far, including most of the John Shaw ones which I will be reviewing later.

Although advanced and professional nature photographers will find little new information in this book, and it is a 2003 book, so for digital stuff, that's considered quite dated now that it's 2006, it's still a book I would recommend to any nature or wildlife photographer. I found the basic sections on composition, available light close-ups, and close-ups through glass, to be very informative, and relevent to film and digital photography.

The one question I would have for John regarding this book, is what tool or tools he used, or would use, if he wanted to make large prints from his Coolpix photos. I hope he upgrades this book in 2007 or so, or maybe this is addressed in his 2005 closeups book.

The ISBN # of my version of this book is: 0817437916.

Cool book idea Ted! Looks very interesting to me :D
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