The Digital SLR Expert Landscapes

Authors: Tom Mackie, William Neill, David Noton, Darwin Wiggett, Tony Worobiec

Publisher: David and Charles

Review by Conrad J. Obregon

One of the problems of books about landscape photography is that there are many different audiences for such books ranging from the photographer who is just learning about the subject to experienced hands looking to pick up a few tips. This book seemed more aimed at the new landscape photographer who understands how to use his or her camera and understands the basic principles of exposure.

The book is written by five of the world’s great landscape photographers with each offering a chapter on a different subject. Darwin Wiggett writes about controlling exposure; David Noton about understanding light; William Neill about composition; Tom Mackie about landscape locations; and Tony Worobiec about black-and-white landscapes.

While the first and last chapters are more technical in nature, the other three chapters are devoted to a general understanding of their subjects. The chapter on exposure mentions things like the use of the histogram and the black-and-white landscapes chapter emphasizes the use of Photoshop in converting images from color into black and white. As to the other authors, Mackie, as an example, discusses the importance of planning the landscape photograph before ever taking camera in hand, and methods of treating different environments.

I was slightly disappointed by the chapter on black-and-white. My experience is that black-and-white landscapes require a different kind of visualization then color, but this was unmentioned.

One of the most astounding things about this book was to learn that the authors were photographers who had used large format, film, view cameras and who now used digital single lens reflex cameras for their work. The authors explain why they made the switch; the book may provide comfort to DSLR landscape photographers who have been feeling guilt about not using the large-format cameras.

The chapters are profusely illustrated with the five authors’ photographs but I didn’t feel the book was a thinly disguised method of presenting portfolios (although all images were quite lovely), but rather that the pictures were truly presented to emphasize the teaching points.

I didn’t pick up a lot of pointers that I had not encountered before, but it seemed to me that for someone just getting into landscape photography, this would be a good introduction, without being as simplistic as to tell you the difference between a point-and-shoot and a DSLR.

On the other hand, while the volume will provide a nice review for experienced landscape photographers, those looking to push their work a little further might want to look at something a bit more philosophical and theoretical like David Ward’s “Landscape Within” and “Landscape Beyond”.