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National Geographic Photography Field Guide

Express Summary

No doubt photography has taken a great part in making National Geographic famous. The National Geographic Photography Field Guide demonstrates what it takes to make such unforgettable photographs. The book covers three essential parts of photography: cameras, composition and light. It puts all that information into perspective against various types of subjects for the enjoyment of any photography enthusiasts. While the book is written with film in mind, practically all information presented there applies to digital photography as well. The book is well written with clear explanations accompanied by numerous photographs and clear diagrams.

Book Review

The National Geographic Photography Field Guide aims to teach photography the National Geographic way, yet it does not forget that such level of photography cannot be achieved without a solid understanding of the most basic photographic principles. The book's 368 pages are divided among three main sections: Essential Basics, A World of Subjects and Making Photographs Under Pressure. Each section is proportional to its relative importance, with Essential Basics being the longest, followed by A World Of Subjects.

Essential Basics covers a variety of topics using simple terms and several examples for emphasis. Just as the rest of the book, the language is accessible without skipping any important details or compromising on accuracy. Composition is introduced in general terms with a surprising amount of details as the second chapter of this section. The remainder of this section covers cameras, lenses, light, exposure and metering among other things. Each chapter here always put its information in the context of photography. This may sound obvious but it is frequently forgotten in lesser photography books.

A World Of Subjects covers composition again with much more details and in perspective with specific types of subjects which have all contributed to many National Geographic photographs. No less than eight types of subjects, from weather to evening and light, are truly well covered using inspiring text and sample photographs. Chapters on specific subjects are intermixed with chapters on particular National Geographic photographers. These chapters are equally important because they illustrate artistic and work flow possibilities as well as providing valuable tips from world-renowned experts. By reading these chapters, we get to understand the connection between a photograph and its message.

Making Photographs Under Pressure covers a topic that National Geographic probably knows best. It not only ties photography with timing and presence but also with the importance of carrying a representative message. Chapters in this section are also intermixed with short essays on particular photographers who have taken photography in intense situations.

Finally, there is a minor section on computers and photography which has a few words on digital photography. This part is quite brief and already slightly outdated but that is not the point of this book. There is much more useful and inspiring information in the previous sections. For those who feel references to film photography are not important, you may safely skip pages 34-50, 112-134 and 160-173.

This National Geographic book serves its purpose well, to explain photography in context of various photographic subjects. It does so with more depth than most introduction to photography at the expense of photographic editing and management, which are explained by many other books but are far less important than what is covered here. Also, people wanting an introduction to the digital aspects of digital photography should find another book to complement this one without dismissing it.

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