I approached this book with a little scepticism: it looked like another coffee table book, large format, stacked with beautifully rendered photographs of exotic landscapes and little else.
But then I skimmed David Noton’s introduction and gathered that he feels digital cameras have opened a whole new world of photographic opportunities “that would not have been possible in the film era.” He then proceeds to offer information on his working methods and philosophy.
He finds colour in Morocco’s towns with a shot of a yellow-orange clad washer woman against a vibrant indigo. No filters. No post work. One frame. Just as it is.
In Bali he recounts that with a film camera he would bang off a run of frames in the quest of the winning shot, bracketting exposure and re-framing … thinking “one is bound to be good.” These days he shoots fewer frames in digital, with packed memory cards and the vision of weeks spent trawling through the mountain of files. With digital he can also replicate the film trick of bracketting exposures. As he says, he would much prefer to snare one perfect shot than a pile of average ones.
He explains that he always uses evaluative or matrix metering with his Canon EOS1Ds MkIII: by checking the display he can ascertain any areas of extreme under or over-exposure, then apply compensation. He always shoots RAW, acknowledging they record “robust shadows but fragile highlights.”
He finds wildlife photography to be a challenge: as a landscape photographer his approach is different, with a need to involve the animals in their environment — but he does admit that if he finished his career by not shooting a leopard with a long lens he’d feel he’d missed something. Except for three shots in the book taken with wide angle zooms, the remainder were captured with a 500mm tele. If in Rome…
We then get to trek through Laos, parts of France, Italy, Canada, the UK and Bolivia.
Much of the book includes personal notes on how to gear up for a shoot and how to overcome lassitude when things don’t go to plan. In Morocco he declares that he is frustrated by petty officialdom. In Bali it rained continuously for days and he shot virtually nothing at first. In Wales he sits morosely in the pub, again staring at the rain-drenched windows. His response most of the time is to stay positive, make location searches and hope that the clouds will part.
An unusual book, eighty per cent pleasure with twenty per cent encouragement, it’s the sort of work that you could enjoy while the rain pours and you wait to go outdoors.
Author: D Noton.
Publisher: David & Charles.
Length: 191 pages.
ISBN: 978 1 0 7153 3615 1.
Price: Get a Price on Photography Essentials Full Frame at Amazon