Review: The Art of Photographing Wildlife by Mike Kiss

Gordon-Laing-Mike-Kiss-The-Art-of-Photographing-Wildlife-ebookMike Kiss is a wildlife and nature photographer from Ontario, Canada. Although photography is not his profession, he has developed a profound expertise in this craft through his love for wildlife and the outdoors.

Having been a hunter and fisherman many years, he discovered his love for photography relatively late. Now, he is hunting with his camera and that has brought his love for nature and its wildlife to a whole new level. It is this love and his passion for photography that made him a world-class wildlife photographer.

The Topic

Photographing wild animals is one of the most rewarding but also most difficult photographic disciplines you can imagine. Not only do you have to master all the photographic concepts and technicalities, you also have an extremely tough subject to shoot: wild animals. They will not take directions, they will run away at just the right moment, and some even try to eat you while you change lenses.

As a nature and wildlife photographer, you often find yourself in the middle of the wilderness being forced to wait for the right moment that may never come. But if you get everything right and the moment comes, the experience can be overwhelmingly beautiful, and the resulting photo can be spectacular. But you really need to learn a lot before that will happen on a consistent basis, and Mike Kiss has written the right book for you.

The eBook

I always enjoy reading photography books by authors that are much more than photographers. And that’s exactly the case here. Mike Kiss has made nature and wildlife the star here, and that is not only evident in his first sentence: “This book is intended for the wildlife photographer who is passionate about wildlife and nature“. Indeed that passion comes across, and this is very refreshing.

To become a great wildlife photographer, above anything, you need to understand wildlife. Mike gives you a great introduction to the behaviour of different animal species, and he connects this information directly to a ton of tricks and tips for photographing them.

Of course, you will find valuable basic photography information in this book. Mike tells you which lenses work best in which situations, which shutter speeds to use and so on. But what’s much more important, you will learn how to aproach each type of animal and each shooting situation such that you will get the most out of it while staying safe and without disturbing the animals.

The book starts with bird photography, and continues by covering small animals, large animals, insects, marine wildlife, underwater wildlife, urban wildlife, zoo and aquarium photography and plants. After that, Mike discusses different lighting conditions, different seasons and situations like photographing during guided tours. I found this way of structuring the content to be very systematical, effective and appropriate for this type of photography.

Extensive tips on gear, post-production and composition can be found towards the end of the book. Finally, Mike gives some valuable tips on safety, security and ethics that help avoid many uncomfortable or even dangerous situations.

Other Things You’ll Learn

Apart from all the profound photographic information in this book, you will learn one central thing: respect and appreciation for the widlife that you will be photographing. Mike does a great job of conveying an important message: When you’re delving into this area of photography, you’ll be a guest, and you should be humble and considerate. Not only can that prevent your host from eatinig you as a snack. It will also make your photos so much better.

The Style of Teaching

Mike tells the story of wildlife photography with a lot of authority and knowledge. At the same time, it really shows that he is very passionate about the whole subject. This makes for a great learning experience. While you may start reading with your camera and lens in mind, Mike will set your frame of mind straight, and you will end up with a lot more appreciation and a deeper understanding of your subjects – the animals.

The Summary

The Pros The Cons
  • Mike really made nature and wildlife (as opposed to cameras and lenses) the star of this photography book. I think this is the right approach, not only from a conservational standpoint but from a photographic one.
  • Apart from many great photographic tips and techniques, you will learn how to behave and how to read your subjects in order to maximize the quality of your images.
  • Mike shares his immense knowledge about all aspects of wildlife and nature photography that he gained from many years of experience.
  • If you’re a photography geek, a tech junkie or a pixel peeper (like so many of us ;)), this may not be the right book for you. But then again, wildlife photography may not be your cup of tea after all. The technical information is woven into the book very subtly.
  • If you are looking for quick results, you may also be disappointed. Becoming a great nature and wildlife photographer takes a lot of time and experience. But this is the perfect book to get you started on your journey.

My Personal Tips for this Book

Here are my personal tips on how to work with this book:

  • Before you open the book, put your camera away. No… seriously… you won’t need it – at least at the beginning. Instead, go out into the nature and try to understand what Mike is telling you.
  • You probably want to read some pieces a couple of times and maybe write down a few bullet points. This will make it easier to take in all the knowledge that Mike has to offer.
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