While we all know educational photography videos on YouTube are the bee’s knees, sometimes what’s really needed is an in-depth book to sink into. Enter Steve Perry’s “Secrets to Stunning Wildlife Photography.”
I’ve watched most of Perry’s educational videos on his YouTube channel, and Fstoppers has featured a number of them on our website. In more recent times, he’s been promoting his e-book, “Secrets to Stunning Wildlife Photography,” in these videos. In my own photo journey, over the past year or so I’ve been branching out into this exciting world of wildlife and bird photography more and more. And lately, deep into the Minnesota winter, I’ve been going crazy soaking up all this new information from online resources. A couple days ago I was rewatching one of Perry’s wildlife photography videos and the plug for his book hit me square in the face; I questioned what I was doing with my life and bought the e-book for $12.97 off his website.
After devouring it in a couple sittings, here’s my little review and I’ll let you know if you should buy or pass on it.
What I Liked
“Secrets to Stunning Wildlife Photography” is incredibly thorough. No rock is left unturned here. This is a 294-page PDF e-book that covers both technique and technology, and it feels like it. Sometimes I see that kind of page number for a photography book and assume that half or more of that is the photos. Nope, not here. The photos that Perry does use are for demonstration of the exact topics he is covering in that specific section, many of them are overlaid with helpful text and graphics to better understand his points. They aren’t self-serving portfolio pieces he is just throwing in there to impress you with his talent and for filler; I do get that vibe from a number of other photography books.
It is so dense with information that I recall at one point thinking to myself, “well, this was a good read,” expecting it to start winding down and ending. Then I checked the page — I was only a quarter of the way through the book. After that embarrassing lesson, it happened yet again when I was three-quarters of the way through. I’m seriously hard-pressed to think of anything wildlife photography related that isn’t touched on in this book. Check the chapter list below.
Part 1: Creative Techniques
- Think About the Light
- Think About the Story
- Think About the Pose
- The Eyes Have It
- Get Eye to Eye
- Watch Your Background
- Watch the Wind
- Get Ahead of the Game
- Know Where to Go
- Dealing With Wildlife
Part 2: Tech Talk
- Tripods and Heads
- Crop or Full Frame Camera
- Lenses for Wildlife
- Unexpected Long Lens Issues
- Sharp Images With Long Lenses
- Shutter Speed Is Your Best Friend
- Tricks With Continuous Frame Advance
- Tricks With Autofocus
- Nail The Exposure
- Exposure Mode Selection
- Raw Versus JPEG
- Shooting From a Car
- Gear Security and Getting Your Images Home
- Some Parting Words
- Bonus Chapter: My Nikon Settings
And what’s better is that this seems to be a book for everyone. I know when people say that, they usually mean to say it’s a book for beginners, but I do really mean everyone. How Perry manages to do this is by writing out what’s worked for him from his personal experiences. By using personal experiences rather than just firing out general overview facts of these chapter subjects, everyone can get something out of it. Beginners learn how a pro does it and can start out with a solid foundation, and other pros can compare their techniques with Perry’s to make sensible adjustments in their own shooting.
What Could Be Improved
I know I just built up this book’s depth on wildlife photography, but the thoroughness can sometimes make it more difficult to go back for just the facts after a first read through. A condensed chapter summary or index could be helpful for referencing instead of combing through the paragraphs of text.
Next, this is a self-published e-book, which first of all deserves major props. However, the layout and design also looks like it’s a self-published e-book. It’s certainly not the worst I’ve seen, but it isn’t on par with many “proper” printed photography books from the publishing companies. What’s important I suppose is that none of this really interferes with the information being conveyed, although it could be nicer to look at.
Finally, I’m probably just dead on the inside, but Perry loves to use comedic analogies in his writing, and after a few instances I just began skipping past them to the next sentence once I saw it about to happen. Sorry!
Buy or Pass
Buy. This is a definite buy if you are at all interested in photographing wildlife. At a price of $12.97, there’s really no way you are going to regret buying the book and at the same time supporting a great photography educator who just poured his professional heart out into 294 pages.
“Secrets to Stunning Wildlife Photography” can be purchased now for instant download on Perry’s website.
All images used with permission.