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RSPB How to Photograph Garden Birds (cover).jpg

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing, London

Publication Year: 2023

Binding: Softback

Page Count: 176

ISBN Number: 9781399404549

Price: £ 18.99

RSPB How to Photograph Garden Birds

During my 20 years of birding, I have only modestly dabbled in bird photography (with the same camera from the 2000s I’ve had since school), so when beginning to read this new RSPB book by Mark Carwardine I was curious to see how well it would read to a beginner such as myself, and whether it would inspire me to join the growing photographer community and to properly partake in this popular pastime.

I was pleased by Mark’s clear message that you don’t need to travel to far-flung and exotic locations to take effective photographs. Focusing on your garden birds can offer a great source of enjoyment as well as a much more convenient opportunity to practise and hone your photography skills. As long as you remember a small number of core principles, there is nothing stopping you from taking professional-quality snaps from your doorstep. To emphasise this, the photographs in the book primarily come from Mark’s garden, and I particularly liked his inclusion of purposely-taken ‘bad’ shots, to reinforce his tips on what not to do when starting off.

The pages are full of useful tactics to enhance your photography, as well as subtle tricks to make your photographs look as though they were taken during the all-too-brief ‘golden hours’ of the day, when natural light is at its best for taking effective shots. There is also a section on taking impressive photographs by producing your very own ‘artificial rain’ - though admittedly after the winter we’ve just had I think I’ll be passing on that particular trick for the foreseeable future!

This book is certainly beginner-friendly, with Mark’s writing style coming across as a friendly mentor giving tips by your side. For those of you who are completely new, however, I would perhaps recommend reading the glossary at the back before commencing the book, as there might be some words and phrases that could be unfamiliar to you. I was also somewhat surprised not to see any diagrams of camera apparatus or accessories, though of course we have our phones and/or laptops to quickly look these up.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to those wishing to explore and develop their photography skills. I certainly came to better appreciate the skill of taking good-quality shots which, like all hobbies, requires lots of practice and patience to master. With Mark’s helpful pointers, you’ll certainly get a head start, and I look forward to having them in mind myself when I’ll next have my camera while enjoying my garden birds.

Book reviewed by Gethin Jenkins-Jones

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