A bird through the lens is worth? A book review for pArticipate.

Mr Barnard, my primary school principal,had a favourite saying:
Good, better, best.
Never let it rest,
until the good is better,
and the better, best”…
Isak Pretorius’s book that sets out to do just that.
This book is a newly published Jacana title.
After spending some time reading it,
I tried out some of his advice on a recent trip to Madikwe.

I have this book on my Smartphone
and it comes in extremely useful on game drives as,
unlike the printed version, it offers the calls of many of the species.
Now,with the addition of Isak’s book to my “bush library”,
I am ready for almost any photographic situation.
Except for running out of batteries!

By comparison,trees are the EASY part of bird photography…
They tend not to fly off, and if you miss the shot,
another one can be easily found
Not so with bird photography.
It requires the patience of Job and a really good sense of anticipation.
If you currently find yourself lacking in either of these areas,
THIS is the book for you!

Proper lighting, a clean background are important to both the image
and the identification of the species.
In this case a Steppe Buzzard.
If you are out alone or as part of a bird photography course,
it is easier to spend time changing positon to get all the aspects to line up.
Not so easy if you are in a game drive vehicle with other guests.
Chapter 7 gives you advice on getting close to your subject.
Either on foot, in a vehicle, by boat on from a hide

This is the type of image that may of us have.
Probably more than we would like to admit to.
This Insider’s Guide will make you more aware of what birds might do,
and how to anticipate that in order to capture the “perfect” image

This is NOT the way that this species would want to be photographed

Isak’s book will help you to get a shot like this.
The entire bird, in flight AND in focus

African Spoonbills make for interesting subjects.
Try to get them while they are foraging for food.
The “money-shot” is capturing them with a fish between their bills.
The book explains shutter speed, ISO and aperture in detail

Be aware of the background when you shoot.
This Three-banded Plover almost vanishes into the water behind it.
Unfortunately, I was unable to get a better shot.

LBJ’s…the bain of every bird photographer.
But, in this case it was more their behaviour that attracted me.

The book extols the virtues of making
sure your subject best represents its species.
HOWEVER, don’t let that stop you from taking pictures.
Often the “fluff-up-your-feathers” images are representative
of a particular behaviour that you might not be aware of.

Even with all the information that the book offers,
being in the right place at the right time can result in a shot like this.
The excrement was part of a Puffadder breakfast
that this junior Brown Snake Eagle had been enjoying
before he was rudely interrupted by our vehicle.

This book will certainly give you something to roar about.

And the advice it dispenses is “almost” guaranteed
to make your bird photography better.
It might be too late for Christmas 2014,
but as a “give-yourself-a-gift”, it is be hard to beat

The chapters in the book are self explanatory and make for easy reading:
1) Choosing the right equipment:
2) Different modes for different applications:
3) Making good exposures
4) How light effects photography
5) How to make sharp images
6) Designing your images
7) Getting up close to your subject
8) Capturing bird behaviour
9) Bird photography hotspots
10) Different settings for different shots
Published by Jacana, it can be ordered from www.kalahari.com
for R225.00.

In each chapter you will find tips from Isak on how to make your images “POP”…
Unlike magicians who refuse to share secrets,
this book lets you in his world and is transparent about what makes his images special.

My only complaint…
Isak only compares Canon and Nikon.
This is the age old camera equipment argument,
even though there are a plethora of DSLR bodies (and lenses)
that will offer you similar specs.

I have shot with Pentax equipment since 1974,
and I currently use a Pentax K5.
I am therefore not part of “the great debate”.
That being said,a generic guide to camera brands
might have been an option?
But that is a minor complaint.
Overall the books offers valuable advice
to every level of bird photographer.

He also makes mention of “point-and-squirt” cameras as back-up.
My current one is the Canon SX280HS.
It has given me great images and offers easy of use.


The modern generation of Smartphones have cameras that are getting better
with each new model.
Not only are the cameras getting better, so are the lenses.
The current Sony Xperia Z3 has a 20 megapixel camera!
Both of these are commented on in the relevant chapters

He does, however, redeem himself when it comes to lenses.
Here he has added a brand like Sigma which makes excellent quality lenses.
How and Where Where to Photograph Birds was reviewed for 

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