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  • Nature Photography

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    SAN FRANCISCO SINGAPORE SYDNEY TOKYOFocal Press is an imprint of Elsevier

    Nature PhotographyInsider Secrets f rom the World s Top

    Digital Photography ProfessionalsCHRIS WESTON

  • Acquisitions Editor: Cara AndersonAssociate Editor: Valerie GearyPublishing Services Manager: George MorrisonProject Manager: Mnica Gonzlez de MendozaMarketing Manager: Christine Degon VeroulisCover and Interior Design: Joanne BlankCover image: Chris WestonVector art: iStockphotoFocal Press is an imprint of Elsevier30 Corporate Drive, Suite 400, Burlington, MA 01803, USALinacre House, Jordan Hill, Oxford OX2 8DP, UKCopyright 2008, Chris Weston, Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.Permissions may be sought directly from Elseviers Science & Technology Rights Department in Oxford, UK: phone: (+44) 1865 843830, fax: (+44) 1865 853333, E-mail: You may also complete your request on-line via the Elsevier homepage (, by selecting Support & Contact, then Copyright and Permission, and then Obtaining Permissions.Recognizing the importance of preserving what has been written, Elsevier prints its books on acid-free paper whenever possible.

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataWeston, Christopher (Christopher Mark) Nature photography : insider secrets from the worlds top digital photography professionals / Chris Weston. p. cm. Includes index. ISBN 978-0-240-81016-4 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Nature photography. 2. Photography--Digital techniques. I. Title. TR721.W47 2008 778.93dc22 2008014678

    British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication DataA catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.ISBN: 978-0-240-81016-4For information on all Focal Press publications, visit our website at www.books.elsevier.com08 09 10 11 12 10 09 08 07 06 05 04 03 02 01Printed in China

  • The Professionals ix

    Habit one Plan for the Perfect Picture Research and Planning 5Know Your Subject 10Visualization and the Art of Seeing 16Pack for the Picture You Want 21

    Habit Two Know Your Camera Camera Controls and What Th ey Do 31Image File Type 34White Balance 38ISO (Ampli cation) 39Exposure Mode 46Using the Histogram and Highlights Information Screens 50Focus Mode 54Using the Menu System 56Advanced Menu Options and Custom Settings 66Using Modern Lenses 66Camera Handling 71



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    Habit Three See What Your Camera Sees Light: Photographers Paint 85Contrast: When the World Turns Gray 91Th rough the Lens: A Cameras Eye View 94

    Habit Four Take Control of Your Camera Managing Light 107Painting with Light 110Understanding Exposure 118Exposure and Contrast 129Expose for the Highlights, Process for the Shadows: Th e Digital Exposure Mantra 137When to Use Speci c Metering Modes 140When to Use Which Exposure Mode 145ISO Relationship to Exposure 145Applying White Balance for Artistic E ect 151Choosing the Right Lens for the Occasion 161Using Auto-Focus E ectively 162

    Habit Five Learn the Rules (and When NOT to Apply Them) Learning the Art of Omission 176Designing a Photographic Image 189Th e Psychology of Design and Its Role in Composition 190Creating a Sense of Depth 201Six Rules of Nature Photography and When to Break Th em 203

    C O N T E N T S

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    Habit Six Capture the Moment (Putting Everything into Practice) What Makes a Compelling Image? 214Two Questions to Ask Before Pressing the Shutter 214De ning your Subject 216Th e Making of 15 Best-Selling Images 220

    Habit Seven Practice (Makes Perfect) Armchair Exercises to Keep You Photographically Fit 252Ten Photo Workouts to Get You Shooting Like a Pro 254Six Photo Projects to Inspire You 258Planning Your Own Assignments 262

    Index 265

    C O N T E N T S

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    Th e following professional wildlife, landscape, and nature photographers contributed to the content of this book, directly or indirectly, sharing their ideas, techniques, and experience, and the secrets of their trade.

    Heather AngelFreelance nature more than a quarter of a century, Heather has been at the forefront of wildlife photography in Britain and her work has been recognized with many awards both in the UK and over-seas, including an honorary doctorate from Bath University, a special professorship from Nottingham University, and a top award from the U.S. BioCommunications Association. Heather was president of the Royal Photographic Society from 1984 to 1986. She communicates her enthusiasm for photographing the natural world via her prodigious writ-ing, workshops and lectures. Her exhibition, Natural Visions, toured the UK from 2000 to 2004, and also appeared in Kuala Lumpur, Cairo, and Beijing.

    Niall BenvieFreelance nature and conservation photographerScotlandwww.imagesfromtheedge.comNiall Benvie has published three books and over 220 articles; he is one of the UKs most proli c writers on nature photography. Th e scope of his writing extends into issues of land management and the polarization of nature and culture as well as travelogues, book reviews and com-mentaries on subjects as diverse as species re-establishment programs and ecotourism. He does not follow the international honey-pot trail, instead preferring to seek out stories in relatively underworked, although biologically rich, areas.

    Steve BloomFreelance wildlife photographic artistEnglandwww.stevebloom.comSteve Bloom is a photographic artist who specializes in evocative images of the natural world. Born in South Africa,

    The Professionals

  • xhe rst used the camera to document life there during the 1970s. He moved to England in 1977, where he worked in the graphic arts industry for many years. In the early 1990s during a visit to South Africa, his interest in wild-life photography emerged, and within a short time he had swapped his established career for the precarious life of a wildlife photographer. He has won awards for his work and his pictures are seen around the world in calendars, post-ers, advertising, editorial features and a multitude of other products.

    Jim BrandenburgFreelance nature photographerUnited Stateswww.jimbrandenburg.comMinnesota-based Jim Brandenburg has worked as a photog-rapher with National Geographic magazine for over 25 years, resulting in 19 magazine stories, several television features, and over 19 books. His photographs have won a multitude of prestigious national and international awards, and he was twice named Magazine Photographer of the Year by the National Press Photographers Association. He has also been the recipient of the World Achievement Award from the United Nations Environmental Programme in Stockholm, Sweden.

    Pete CairnsFreelance nature and conservation photographerScotlandwww.northshots.comPeter Cairns is a freelance nature photographer with a deep fascination for humanitys relationship with the natural world. In addition to documenting Europes high-pro le wildlife species, his work focuses on a diverse range of issues such as wildlife management, ecological restoration, ecotour-ism and evolving land-use regimes.

    Joe CornishFreelance landscape photographerEnglandwww.joecornish.comJoe has made major contributions to many National Trust publications, especially Coast and Countryside, pub-lished in 1996. His rst book was First Light: A Landscape Photographers Art (2002), now in its fth printing. More recently, he wrote and photographed Scotland s Coast: A Photographers Journey, and shot the pictures for Urbino (a hill town in central Italy), a rare departure into archi-tectural photography. He writes regularly for Outdoor Photography and Amateur Photographer magazines, and his work has been featured in Outdoor Photographer magazine.

    T H E P R O F E S S I O N A L S

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    In January 2006, Amateur Photographer honored him with their annual Power of Photography award. Joe has given lectures on landscape photography throughout the UK and as far a eld as New Zealand, and he is an expe-rienced workshop leader. Photographic companies who work with Joe include Lee Filters, Fuji lm UK, Gitzo, and Lowepro.

    Steve GoslingFreelance nature specializes in producing creative and contempo-rary images of the natural world landscapes, owers and plants, and trees and foliage. His photographs have been published internationally as posters and in books, magazines, newspapers, calendars and greetings cards. Prints of his work have been exhibited in venues throughout the UK and have also appeared on sets for both theatre and lm productions. His work has won awards in national and international competitions, including the Royal Horticultural Societys Annual Photographic Competition in both 2002 and 2003. More recently he achieved suc-cess in the 2006 Black & White Photographer of the Year competition.

    Paul Harcourt DaviesFreelance macro, nature and travel has built up an international reputation for his work through his photographs and his books on orchids, Mediterranean wild owers, travel and photography. He is a regular contributor to magazines such as Outdoor Photography and Freelance Photography, and has led numerous photo-graphic tours.

    Nick MeersFreelance location, architectural and panoramic photographerEngla