Have you ever seen a golden-cheeked warbler and scrambled to grab a camera to remember the moment? Have you looked upon the flowing rivers of the Texas landscape, wishing you knew how to capture the water to look as smooth as glass? Have you gazed at the stars shimmering above in the night sky and wanted others to see what you saw?
In The Big Book of Nature and Wildlife Photography (ebook only), photographer and writer Russell Graves (a regular Texas Parks & Wildlife contributor) takes readers on a virtual tour of the great outdoors through stunning photographs, pairing them with advice on expressing your own nature experience through a lens.
Graves opens the book with his upbringing on a Texas cattle ranch, which led him to realize his passion for nature and wildlife. While doing ranch work, he consistently became distracted by the occasional opossum waddling nearby or deer trotting along. Eventually, his love affair for the outdoors led him to pursue photography.
“From the beginning, I knew that photography was a fantastic way to record the natural world in my little corner of Texas,” Graves writes. “Since then, I’ve never developed more than a passing interest in studio photography, but rather decided early on that I’d try to capitalize on natural light and let the outdoors be my studio.”
His book explores a variety of landscapes, ranging from vast prairies to arid deserts to dense forests to salty coasts. Along the way, readers see diverse photographs of both wildlife and nature, each with their own stories to tell. From the colorful autumn trees in the Smoky Mountains to the lone coyote wandering the grass field of Childress, Graves paints a picture of our landscape that many of us don’t take the time to stop and see.
With each photograph, he includes what camera was used and its settings so others can also try out their own nature photo shoots. Through the rest of the book, he lets the reader in on all the best tips and tricks for shooting nature photography. From necessary camera equipment to appropriate camera settings, he opens up a world of possibilities for the aspiring photographer.
He even gives tangible tips from his time in the field, such as the types of ducks to look out for or how to clearly capture a bobcat in motion. He not only deals with the practicalities of camera work but also focuses on the animals themselves and how to find moments worth capturing.
Graves includes his own experiences as well, mentioning his usual editing procedures and digital workflow. Toward the end of the book, he goes through several case studies, explaining past experiences through his mindset, actions taken and the outcome.
The book’s message comes to its culmination in the conclusion — that practicing consistently is key.
Graves says the ultimate goal of capturing these astounding elements of nature is to better appreciate the wildlife surrounding us.
“Good photographs of the natural world are a way for you to learn more about the great outdoors,” Graves writes. “The more you learn, the better steward and conservation advocate you’ll become.”
Read and view Graves’ work.