The following is a series of articles on photography and conservation issues.  

Photography Book Reviews

How to photograph New Zealand birds Part 1

How to photograph New Zealand birds Part 2

Thoughts on creativity

John Ridgway - Save the Albatross Voyage New

Nature Photography Book Reviews

Taking good nature photographs is about a whole range of attributes - including preparation, learning from experience, commitment, passion, artistic vision, a love of your subject, luck and good technique.

While some people argue that you can't learn anything worthwhile on the subject from books and that everything must be learned in the field - I disagree. In the same way that reading a book on the rules of the road won't make you into a racing driver, but will stop you driving down a one way street; reading a book by a great nature photographer won't allow you to produce the same results as them, but it can help you develop sound technique, provide inspiration and stop you making elementary mistakes. It will help you on your way and then it is up to you.

Some of my favorites are:

A review of The Art of Bird Photography, by Arthur Morris - Arthur is one of North America's finest bird photographers and luckily for us he is also an excellent teacher. This makes The Art of Bird Photography an essential read for anyone interested in photographing avian subjects.

The book is comprehensive in its coverage and looks at most areas of bird photography. The only notable omission is working from a hide, something that Arthur seldom does. Because of its depth the section on exposure may also be a bit confusing to the beginner, but if you persist with it you will have a strong understanding of the subject. Basically, I can't recommend this book highly enough.

A review of Mountain Light, by Galen Rowell - Galen is one of nature photography's legends. He is also a highly accomplished mountaineer and rock climber, who has combined his participation in these sports with his photography to produce some memorable images. Galen is an excellent writer, and in his book Mountain Light he tells us about his philosophy of landscape photography. This book is not a how to manual of techniques, it goes much deeper than that. This is the book I have read again and again to provide motivation and inspiration for my landscape photography.

A review of Galen Rowell's Vision The Art of Adventure Photography, by Galen Rowell - A collection of Galen's monthly articles and images from Outdoor Photographer magazine. Informative and inspiring - I have read it many times over.

Galen Rowell and his wife Barbara were tragically killed in a plane crash in August 2002.

A review of The Business of Nature Photography, by John Shaw - A vital read for anyone wanting to attempt the tough task of making some money out of their nature photography. Covers all the basics well, and contains many of John's strong images.

Anything by John Shaw - John Shaw has written a large number of "How To" books on photography. Closeups in Nature is an excellent and very comprehensive, if a little out of date, book on macro photography. John Shaw's Landscape Photography is a good introduction on the basics of Landscape Photography using 35mm equipment. John Shaw's Nature Photography Field Guide is John's latest book and looks at all aspects of nature photography including landscapes, wildlife and macro. It is the ideal standard reference for anyone interested in pursuing nature photography.

A review of The Backpacker's Photography Handbook, by Charles Campbell- I was very fortunate that this was the first book I read on landscape photography. Charles's explanation of his Chromazone system gave me an immediate understanding of how to control my exposures on slide film. From my very first roll I was in control and getting good results. Subsequent books I have read have not had the clarity of Charles's system. I can not recommend this book highly enough.

A review of The Complete Guide to Night and Low Light Photography, by Lee Frost- Lee Frost is an English photographer with a long history of publishing How To books and articles. In this book Lee covers off many of the tricky situations that puzzle photographer. For example, how to photograph fire works, fun-fairs, cities at night, concerts and plays, building interiors, sun sets and sun rises and using flash. Questions on these areas come up time and time again on photography new groups and the photonet forums. Lee is an excellent writer and gives very clear instructions of how to tackle these tricky situations.

As well as How To books you will also need a good collection of field guides for the subjects you shoot. This is not just so you can identify what you have recorded on film, but also to learn more about what you are photographing.

A good nature photographer must also be a good naturalist. If you are to be successful in getting those great images, you need to know about the behavior and life cycles of you subjects. When does that bird breed and where, what does it feed on, when does that flower bloom etc. Without this knowledge you will be largely dependent on being in the right place at the right time, and whilst luck does play an important part in nature photography - the more you know the luckier you get!

Finally, I would also suggest that you read as widely as possible. Not just the work of other nature photographers, but photographers working in other fields. Also study the work of artists working in other mediums and read whatever gives you inspiration.