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How Do I Choose the Best Photography Field Guide?

Selecting the best photography field guide hinges on your skill level and photographic interests. Look for a guide that offers clear, practical advice, and stunning visuals to inspire your work. Whether you're into landscapes, wildlife, or portraits, the right guide should feel like a mentor in book form. What will your lens focus on next as you enhance your craft?
Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

A photography field guide will give a nature photographer plenty of insight and instruction on how to take wildlife photos while out in the wilderness. The field guide should be fairly lightweight and compact, enough so that the photographer will have no problem carrying it in a backpack or pocket. The guide should be clearly labeled and easy to navigate for quick reference, and the print should be easy to read. If possible, you should choose a field guide made from water-resistant and tear-resistant materials, as the guide is likely to encounter moisture and damage during use.

It may help to decide beforehand what kind of photos you want to take before purchasing a photography field guide. If, for example, you intend to photograph animals exclusively, you will not need a photography field guide that covers plant and flower photography as well. Conversely, if you have no intention of photographing wildlife, a flower and plant life guide will suit you better. A photographer who wants to shoot both plants and animals will need a more comprehensive guide, which is likely to be thicker and heavier to carry. It may be wise to buy more than one guide if you fit into this category; that way, you can take the guide you need for the trip you intend to take, and leave the guide you do not need at home.

A field guide should provide a photographer with insight into taking photos in the wild.
A field guide should provide a photographer with insight into taking photos in the wild.

The best photography field guide will include information both about photography techniques and the necessary equipment to take quality photos in the wilderness. Reading the field guide before you head out into the wilderness is important, as the guide will likely have recommendations on storing and protecting your equipment while out in the field. Practicing the techniques at home is a great way to get prepared for the potential challenges of outdoor photography.

Look for a photography field guide that gives recommendations for different shot settings and techniques. These recommendations may include information on depth of field for certain shots, aperture, shutter speed, and so on, or these recommendations may entail certain techniques for capturing the best shots of quickly moving animals. Composition recommendations are perhaps the most important bits of information you will glean from the photography field guide, so be sure the guide offers plenty of composition tips that are easy to reference while you are in the field setting up your shots of plants or animals.

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    • A field guide should provide a photographer with insight into taking photos in the wild.
      By: Rafael Ben-Ari
      A field guide should provide a photographer with insight into taking photos in the wild.