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26th November 2008
Stephen Anstey reviews the book Waiting for the Light by David Noton
5436: Stephen Anstey reviews the book Waiting for the Light by David Noton

Waiting for the Light  - David Noton

Author: David Noton
Publisher: David & Charles PLC
ISBN 978-0715327418
Jacket price (RRP): UKŁ22.50, US$33.46, EU€31.99

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David Noton is a freelance landscape, nature and travel photographer. He has won the landscape category of the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award three times. David lives in Dorset but travels the world in search of his images. Many will know him for his column in Practical Photography magazine.

This is his first book and features the best of his award winning work, in a series of stunning photographs from around the world. Superlatives don’t do justice to his photographs though, so essentially you need to see them to believe them. They range from the deserts of Africa, to wonderful fields of poppies in France. From a most charming Peruvian shepherd girl tending her flock, to bustling night-time shots in Paris. I found the book to be extremely interesting and readable, but the quality of the images speak for themselves.

I have often considered myself to be, in a minor sort of way, a bit of a landscape photographer, but David makes a business out of his art and skill, and It becomes clear when you read the commentaries on each of the images that this is proper work, and not just a case of being in the right place at the right time, and getting chance shots. He says in his introduction:-

“It’s a popular misconception that’s easy to fall into – a belief that just turning up somewhere epic will be enough, that great shots are just there for the taking…………………. But the really unique, striking, achingly subtle, perceptive images are made, not taken. They are the product of an idea, a vision brought to reality by persistence and sound technique.”

Through a series of Photo Essays based round a theme or place, diary entries where he itemises the critical moments in a shoot, and a Gallery where he talks us through each photo. We are able to see how he goes about his work and the challenges of working in different environments. This is not simply a book full of pretty pictures though, all the way through we learn the importance of planning the location, then waiting for the optimum moment, and of course, the light is all important.

The book has been carefully crafted into four major parts, Vision, Environments, Gallery and, finally, Mechanics. I particularly enjoyed the Environments section, which is again sub-divided into Rock, Sand, Ice, and Earth. Each section is interspersed with his photo essays or a diary entry where we gain more insight into his craft. As I’ve said, each photo is given a commentary and these often give detail of the conditions and how the image was achieved, some with film and some with digital media.

In Part Four, Mechanics, we gain further insight into the media and equipment he uses, his change from film and Nikon to digital and Canon, though he still uses his Fuji GX617 Panorama camera. David says: “The digital revolution has rung the death knell for 35mm film; the quality and versatility available from most DSLRs is far superior”.

If you are looking for that elusive gift for Christmas, either for yourself, or someone into landscape photography, you could do far worse than put this on the list, I’ll guarantee it will be appreciated and learnt from.

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