Underwater Wonders of America Told in Pictures – Photography Book Review

Most people who visit the state and federal parks in the United States are in awe of the beauty in nature that has been preserved for them and their children and grandchildren. Still, even if they go out of their way to visit most of the state and national parks they are only getting half the picture, they are seeing what is above ground and not necessarily what is under the water, where a whole new ecosystem exists.

It is for this reason that the National Park system in the United States encourages underwater snorkeling and diving in many of its parks. And what better way to learn about all you are missing than to get a book that shows you through pictures what it is all about? If this sounds good to you, then let me make a book recommendation to you of a book I personally own myself:

“Underwater Wonders of The National Parks -Diving and Snorkeling Guide Compiled by the National Park Service” by Daniel J. Lenihan and John D. Brooks; Diane Publishing Company; 1998. ISBN: 978-0756765231.

You will be amazed at all the information in this picture book, as it lists camping areas, locations, pictures of underwater spectacular scenes, and where to find them, along with all the best places to eat, stay and get supplies. Check out the coral reefs, Lake Superior, sunken ships, Hawaii’s coasts, the Channel Islands in California, in fact there are over 60-locations listed in the book.

This is perhaps the best introduction to the underwater wonders of the United States and best of all it’s all in pictures, truly incredible. I recommend this book for snorkelers, diving tourists or beginners. And even if you don’t dive or have never tried snorkeling, you’ll love this book.

See America the Beautiful in Pictures – Coffee Table Photography Book Review

How would you like to see America, I mean really see the most beautiful scenery and sights that this great nation has to offer? Well, if so, I’d like to recommend a very good book to you. It is one of the greatest collections of sights and pictures, I’ve ever seen.

In fact, after traveling around the US for 7-years and having been to most of the places in the book, I can say for certain that the photographers did an excellent job in capturing the essence and spirit of each place. The name of the book is:

“Scenic Wonders of America – An Illustrated Guide to Our Natural Splendors” by Reader’s Digest Association Books, New York, NY; 1973.

This book is one of best photography coffee table books you can own, it is fully illustrated and takes the reader on a whirlwind tour of the most beautiful places in America. For instance there are pictures of Niagara Falls, Mammoth Cave, Natural Bridge (KY), Everglades, Badlands, Devil’s Tower, Black Canyon, Painted Desert, Mesa Verde, Petrified Forest, Meteor Crater, Redwood Forest, Ross Lake, Columbia River, Bid Sur, Kilauea Crater, Death Valley, Mount Saint Helens, and Wiamea Canyon.

The colors are true to life and the team at Reader’s Digest Association did a great job in editing the work. Each picture is accompanied by a story of the area and information that is apropos for the reader or viewer to understand all there is to know about the formations and geology. You will not find a better coffee table picture book to capture your love of life and travel.

Photography Book Review – Understanding Exposure

Understanding Exposure has been written with the digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera novice in mind who will benefit from Bryan Petersen’s easy style of prose, the simple non-technical explanations, and the wealth of associated photographs to illustrate the point. Intermediate or more experienced photographers will be able to hone their skills reading about special techniques for more difficult lighting conditions such as capturing snow or low level lighting or night scenes, and the use of polarizing and neutral density filters, multiple exposures and High Dynamic Range (HDR) shots. However, please note that the book is not particularly useful for point and shoot cameras.

In his introduction, Bryan Petersen makes note of the fact that the modern DSLR camera has so many controls and modes that even an experienced photographer can become confused. You could use the camera’s auto settings and take perfectly good photographs but you will never be able to explain how you achieved that particular result. He suggests the only way to fully understand exposure on a modern DSLR camera is to use the Manual Mode and to take control of the settings yourself, or to “fly solo”.

While he defines exposure traditionally and technically, I achieved a far greater understanding from his “Photographic Triangle” explanation of the basic concept of the interaction of aperture, shutter speed and ISO. This for me is the highlight of the book and cuts through most of the confusing technical jargon so often associated with books about photography. Additionally, His “Heart of the Triangle: The Light Meter” example of obtaining water through a kitchen faucet as it explains the relationship between aperture, shutter speed and ISO, illustrates very simply the concept of exposure.

Not only does he provide simple explanations of terms and concepts, there are also exercises at the end of each chapter for you to help complete your understanding.

There have been three editions of this book written by Bryan Petersen: 1990, 2004 and more recently, 2010. While there have been marked advances in camera technology during the twenty years between editions, it is fair to say that the overwhelming message about the “Photographic Triangle” remains true. It is by far the simplest explanation of exposure that you will ever read and the easiest to understand. Once you embrace the concepts of the Manual Mode on your DSLR and apply Bryan’s explanation of exposure in any situation, the “light bulb” moment will happen for you and remain forever more. I do recommend though that you revisit the book from time to time because each time I heave reread his book, I have gleaned yet another kernel of knowledge from it. I consider it to be one of the best books written about this subject and I recommend to anyone seeking to understand exposure and to produce perfect photos every time.