Authors: John and Barbara Gerlach

Publisher: Focal Press (Elsevier)

Review by Conrad J. Obregon

For those who want to learn the basics of landscape photography, Digital Landscape Photography is the perfect book.

The authors have not just assembled all the information necessary for a new digital photographer to produce good landscape photography. The authors present it clearly, simply and lucidly so the readers will have no difficulty understanding the lessons. Moreover, they have organized the information on each topic so that even if the reader has missed a point earlier in the book, he will be reminded again further on.

The ten chapters in the book cover necessary equipment, exposure, sharp focusing, the effect of light, and composition. There is a chapter on special subjects that covers techniques that range from photographing from a kayak to making images of fall foliage. There are even two chapters on the newest darlings of the landscape set, high dynamic range photography (HDR) and panoramas. The book is nicely illustrated with the authors’ photographs.

The chapter on exposure is typical of the book. After explaining the factors of aperture, shutter speed and media sensitivity, the authors show how their interrelationship leads to a good exposure. The authors then show how to use the tools of the digital camera, like the histogram and the “blinkies” to get the exposure the photographer wants. Once having laid out these techniques, the Gerlachs reemphasize them throughout the book so that the new landscape photographer grasps the many factors that lead to a good photograph.

The chapters on HDR and panoramas, which are items that serious landscape photographers will eventually want to try, are not comprehensive descriptions of how to use these tools but rather tell just enough so that the reader can realize their potential and not be intimidated by their apparently complex procedures.

I suppose I could disagree with a few of their recommendations, like the details on the use of back-button focusing for landscapes, but the authors are clear in indicating that these are matters of preference, and indicate other methods of accomplishing the same tasks. On the other hand, they did inspire me to reconsider some techniques that I have generally not employed.

The book has little about post processing, except with regard to HDR and panoramas, and this helps to keep the book simple. Photographers who hope to master landscape photography will have to learn these skills as well. I’ve talked about new landscape photographers, and I expect that advanced landscape photographers are not likely to find techniques they did not know. On the other hand, there are plenty of photographers who have tried their hand at scenery images, and who have been less then successful. For these folks, this is an ideal book.

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