SEAN ARBABI is a commercial photographer specializing in nature, adventure, lifestyle, and travel imagery. His work has been featured in more than 250 publications including National Geographic, Outside, Newsweek, Sunset, Backpacker, and the New York Times. Sean teaches on-site nature photography workshops and is an instructor at the Perfect Picture School of Photography (ppsop.com). He is also the author of The BetterPhoto Guide to Exposure. Sean can be found at seanarbabi.com.
Finally, there is a book for reference from an author who actually does this and "gets it". If you're just getting started and the outdoors is your interest, this is close to perfect for the exposure basics, framing, composition and guidelines for both the proper equipment and procedures necessary.
A lot less emphasis on needing this lens to take this shot, but this is a shot you can take with this lens. And this is how it's done. More of an outdoor photographer's style and approach. We have to carry this stuff and know why.
I don't think there is an example photo in the book that I haven't taken in one way or another. That's what impresses me. I've tried everything outdoors imagineable and Arbabi covers it "all". And explains and emphasizes the procedure in the preferable, "this is how I do it, you can do it too". If you have a reasonable, initial understanding of the basics of exposure, you should have no problem applying that concept to outdoor situations. In fact, one could "almost" learn exposure based on this book as a stand alone, but I don't think that is the author's intent.
The fundamentals of exposure are probably better addressed with a more dedicated issue like the author's own "Better Photo Guide to Exposure" which I do not have, or my personal favorite Jeff Wignall's "Exposure Photo Workshop", to whom I'll forever be in debt.
Sean Arbabi puts considerable time and effort into the more physical aspect of outdoor/nature photography with chapters and tips throughout that describe gear handling and safety that are often overlooked or not discussed. You've got to have been in those situations to realize how important this is. Nature isn't always nice.
I like the fact that the book has very little devoted to editing/photoshop, but concentrates on the business at hand rather than the "create it in photoshop" approach. Again, more of the outdoor style. If I didn't see something that caught my attention, why shoot it and try to make nature look un/natural in a computer. Sure, he describes HDR and panorama/stitching, but it's not the end all, be all of nature photography.
Now, I can't really say this book has many of those "nuggets" of info that would surprise a hard core, experienced outdoor photographer or the "pro forum expert" crowd will be quoting, but having learned this stuff myself from the "school of hard knocks", this book will definitely reduce the learning curve of a beginner/amateur or someone new to outdoor photography.
Lighting, from daylight to midday to direction is mentioned, even camouflage and expressions from wildlife are covered. I think the only thing not covered is whether to wear leather lined or gortex hiking boots.
I just can't believe how valuable this information can be to a beginner at outdoor photography, whether using a dslr, an m4/3 or even a point and shoot. You simply can't learn this stuff indoors.
For us know-it-all, battle scarred veterans of those unique, outdoor challenges, it's still an excellent refresher, reminder and pleasant read from cover to cover.
This book was my Christmas gift, and it is, in more ways than one. Excellent.
Excellent Landscape Guide2012/2/20
This is probably the best guide to nature and landscape photography I have read. For the first and most important thing, Arbabi's images are outstanding. I enjoy photography books mainly for the images. If the photographer wins me over with the pictures, I am ready to soak up his words of advice. So, second to the pictures are the words. In this case, Arbabi does an excellent job narrating the ins and outs of getting those memorable shots. The lessons proceed organically, that is, without feeling he is going down a list of topics. Rather, he moves along seemingly naturally explaining his approach. It just so happens that he does cover all the hot topics, basic and more advanced. Although he does discuss macro and wildlife photography very well, I consider the book more of a landscape primer and most of the book is devoted to capturing these gorgeous views. The only negative point is something that has maybe just to do with me. I shoot using a D90, a crop sensor camera. All of his images are taken using either a medium-format or full frame camera. Although he provides lens, shutter speed, and aperture info for each image, he does not always specify the camera. Since he does not discuss the differences between the cameras, I was not able to figure out how I would apply his settings to my camera. To be specific, how does f 32 on a medium format camera translate to my aps-c camera? Besides that one minor issue, the book is beautiful and well-written, really a must read for anyone interested in the topic.
Best Photography Book I've Read2012/6/8
Although this is not Sean Arbabi's first publication, it is the first of his books that I read (I am not new to photo books, I have read several by different authors.) Cover to cover... I ate this book up. It is full of useful information that can be tried immediately as each chapter is followed by an "assignment". Some of the material was refresher for me as I have been a hobbyist photographer for ten years, but it delves into more than your basic photographic information. I would give this book top reviews for the content alone but the images within are coffeetable appropriate. I had to use exraordinary self discipline to refrain from flipping ahead just to look at the amazing photos on almost every page! Every gorgeous image not only illustrates the topic, but includes all the shooting data as well ~ ie. focal length, apperture, shutter speed, ISO, filters when used, and exposures. I could not wait to turn the page. I learned alot from both content and the images. After reading this book I ordered his first one, The Better Photo Guide to Exposure.
Outstanding, Informative, and Inspirational2013/7/8
This book is a fantastic resource for anyone interested in improving their abilities with nature photography or increasing their appreciation for this art form. The prose is clear and engaging. (I was compelled to read it cover to cover in a few days because it presents the information in such an interesting narrative format.) The photographic examples are so nicely laid out and evocative that this book is a worthwhile purchase simply to view these works of art. Arbabi covers a wide range of topics, from practical discussions about how to pack for a nature photo outing to aesthetic guidelines about composition to technical information about equipment, exposure, and editing. Arbabi even included very helpful suggestions for how to get good results when trying to take technically challenging photos, such as night shots or other situations with difficult lighting or subject movement. The author touches on all of the available options for a photographer for a given topic in a general manner and also shares some of his specific findings from his own experiences, such as discussion about which filters or lenses he uses most often for a particular situation in the field. Each topic is covered in such a way that photographers at every level from beginners to advanced professionals will find helpful and thought-provoking content.
Good coverage, but some notable ommissions2013/3/25
Overall, this is a good guide for the beginning to intermediate nature photographer. However, there are some notable omissions of advanced tips and techniques.
One omission is a mention of diffraction. The book mentions that smaller apertures are sharper, and one might conclude that f/22 should be used to maximize sharpness throughout the image (and many sample photos in the book are at f/22). However, f/22 should not be used often due to diffraction. Lens "sweet spots" should be mentioned.
Another notable omission is coverage of tilt-shift lenses in landscape photography. Many top landscape photographers use the tilt feature to maximize sharpness.