Now that I have found this exciting series, I’m working my way through all of them, and will review the remaining three as I complete them.
Neil opens his new installment of the Photo Nuts series with a quote from Ansel Adams: “The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.” This very much reflects what I have said about cameras, camera gear, and photography ever since I worked in a camera store in the late 1960s, “The camera doesn’t take the picture, the photographer does!” And, just for fun, on page 6, he shows using his camera strap to brace for steadier hand held shooting… a method I’ve used, and advocated, for many years.
From that point on, Neil’s book keeps getting better and better.
His first discussion is about the discussion we all should have every time we see a new and interesting gadget –
- Do I really need this?
- Will it do what I expect?
- What problem do I have that this will solve?
Good answers to these questions will go a long way to answering personal budget questions that will certainly arise. Once you have really thought through the answers to those questions, then start seriously considering additional gear. Neil even nicely covers some simple DIY equipment. I like this idea as it is a great way to try out a concept without actually purchasing gear. For instance, Neil talks about the simplest bounce card, a piece of paper held onto your flash by a rubber band. This is a great way to experiment with this technique before you invest in a great tool like Peter Gregg’s Zippy Flash Diffuser Bounce Card.
Neil starts the selection and purchase process off with a comprehensive section on Research (page 11), Reviews (page 13), and Resources (page 14). And, of course, the leader of the pack is the Internet. Not available when I started in photography (in the mid-50s with a Contax 35mm rangefinder camera and a Grover 4×5 view camera) the internet is a great source of a lot of invaluable information, comparisons, and insight, and where the research for all your purchases should start.
Finishing this, “background” information is a brief tour of good places to buy your photo gear (for instance, my wife, for her business, prefers to buy from a local photo retailer, whereas I tend to purchase more from online resources).
Neil then gets into the reason for the book, the gear. He has a very comprehensive breakdown of different types of cameras, and then goes into significant detail on the various features that are found on today’s cameras and shows you why each has value – so you can decide what is important to your photography.
From there, he explores the many tools and accessories that make our lives as photographers more interesting, expand our capabilities, and lead us to more attractive and interesting photos to proudly display.
I very much like his section on lens focal length/field of view/perspective (page 28). I like the focal length comparison using constant subject size to illustrate perspective of wide angle vs. telephoto lenses. The story would have been complete with a similar focal length “run” (what we used to call these series back in my Minolta School and Maxxum Experience days) with a constant camera position to show the exaggerated foreground and wider field of view with wider angle lenses, and the narrower angle of view of longer lenses, and how this appears to bring subjects closer… and the “flattening” effect of foreground/background with the long teles.
From there on, Neil goes into detailed sections on:
- Tripods (absolutely necessary from my perspective)
- Flashes (another critical tool)
- Light “Modifiers” (reflectors, etc.)
- Camera Bags (how else do we carry all this stuff around and keep it right at hand at a moment’s notice?)
The rest of the book is a series of “Case Studies” showing how Neil uses many of the tools and techniques he has talked about.
Overall Neil Creek’s excellent book, Photo Nuts and Gear, is outstanding. Lots of very good explanations, and lots of good background information that you should consider as you make photo gear selections for your own photography. Initially, I thought that more photos might be nice, but after thoroughly reading the book, I don’t think more photos are really necessary because there is already so much excellent information.
As you would expect from one photographer commenting on a book by another photographer, I don’t agree with everything Neil says… but the quibbles are small and not really important, and even though I do have quibbles, they are small, and do not detract from my overall rating of the book: a definite buy!
Harking back to my photo store days, I’ve never forgotten something one of my customers said when looking at purchasing a camera, “Good equipment inspires confidence in the user!” This book will definitely help you make the right decisions to, indeed, get, “Good Equipment” in your hands and get your confidence inspired to create more great photos to proudly display to your friends and family.
Enjoy Neil Creeks Book, Photo Nuts and Gear…