Book Review: Captured by Moose Peterson

Captured, by Moose Peterson

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a book here, primarily because I’ve not had as much time to really dig into a good book.  However, since Moose Petersons Captured came out, it has been on my list of books I’d like to read for a number of reasons.  First and foremost, Moose Peterson’s reputation as a wildlife and landscape photographer is pretty well known, so it’s kind of like the EF Hutton commercial – when he talks, it’s a good idea to listen.  As I’ve established a pretty good flow for gear reviews, I’ve decided to implement something similar for reading materials as well. In giving a fully detailed account, I’ll be looking at this (and all future materials) based on 5 criteria:  1)  Readability  2)  Length  3)  Writing Style  4)  Photography  and 5)  Educational Value

Captured, by Moose Peterson

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at this book in each of the categories

1.  Readability

Certain authors and writers have a flair for language – where the point is very well made with an economy of words.  Points are made concisely, without a lot of meandering, and without losing the readers interest.  Others need the help of an outline to help keep them (and the reader) on track.  I was surprised to find that this book fell into the latter category.  It really did seem to go from gear, to theoretical, to anecdotal writing styles rather quickly, with abrupt changes coming literally with little or no transition between so it made staying focused on what he was writing about rather challenging.  This may be my background and experience in higher education, but I also found some of the grammar and sentence structures kind of awkward to read.  I got what he was trying to say, but sometimes I found myself re-reading sentences, paragraphs, and other sections more than once to try and get the point he was trying to make.  Score:  3.5

I guess I shouldn’t have been as surprised, because being a talented photographer does not necessarily make you a good writer or teacher, but with books there is so much editing that usually goes into the process, grammar and outlines are usually used to keep things on topic without much in the way of diversion.  However, it just felt like an awkward read, moving from one topic to another and not much adherence to any structure.  Nevertheless, I plowed on…

2.  Length

Books can be challenging to produce because there really is nothing stopping you (other than your editor) from going on indefinitely.  The problem here is that books (like speeches) can get too long and begin to lose reader (or listener) interest.  In order for a book to retain your interest over any extended period, the material has to be particularly engaging.  This is often the case with novels, mysteries, suspense, and other types of fiction.  However, in non-fiction, length can be an issue if you are not careful.  Here, the length did seem to go on longer than I would have expected for a book of this kind.  It wasn’t really that the material was dragging on longer, but it seemed that it could have been broken up into smaller chunks.  My idea for making this more digestible would have been to do that along the lines of something like the following:

The Moose Peterson Chronology

  • Moose Peterson – History in the Making: Learning all about technical and techniques in photography  (Volume 1)
  • Moose Peterson – Building a Reputation and Respectability in the field of Photography (Volume 2)
  • Moose Peterson – Working in a Digital World of Photography (Volume 3)

Having shorter books and compartmentalizing the topics for discussion would have made the readability much easier, and likely built in residual sales from those who purchased the first one.  But, to each their own I guess.  Score:  2.0

3.  Writing Style

It is easy to see that Moose is a technical person.  From his approach to the craft, figuring out what works and what doesn’t, to his business acumen and gear selection, the technical nature is something I can and do respect.  I wish the technical side came out more in the writing though, because for me the approach seemed more haphazard than it could have been.  There were sections where he would try to be funny, and while I got the humor, the delivery was just a bit easy to predict.  The technical areas came across well, when he described how he figured out lighting problems in caves, and timing the photography window for bird hatchings were quite insightful, but in other areas it made things drag more.  Anecdotes were a bit too dry, and could have used a more light-hearted approach, something along the lines of Joe McNally.  Score:  4.0

4.  Photography

There is a reason why Moose Peterson is such a successful wildlife and landscape photographer – he is good!  The landscapes and wildlife he shares with the reader in the book are just tremendous!  This is what all wildlife and landscape photographers should aspire to as the benchmark here is quite admirable, and the quality here is unsurpassed.  For this reason alone, I am glad the book was as long as it went, because it afforded me the opportunity to see a great deal of his portfolio.  Score: 5.0

5.  Educational Value

Captured falls into a category that I would best classify as educational, because there really are so many nuggets of wisdom and experience in these pages.  Sometimes they are well set-up, and others are buried in the text.  To get all the brilliance that resides within, you do have to read the full book, but what you come away from it with is worth the price paid for the knowledge.  You get to cut your teeth with Moose as he cut his when he began.  And while it takes a while to go through everything, the end result is worth it!  Score:  4.5

*****

Would I recommend Captured to others?  I’d give this an equivocal yes, depending on what it is you are looking for, and where you are in your own learning curve.  For beginning photographers, the finer points that exist here would likely be lost on a first read, and I could not see reading this book twice.  If you are an intermediate photographer or well along the path of photography, then this is probably more your speed because you can readily identify the nuggets and pearls of wisdom that emanate from the pages.  Averaging the scores, the summary score for Captured is:  3.8

Category Score
Readability 3.5
Length 2.0
Writing Style 4.0
Photography 5.0
Educational Value 4.5
Average 3.8

Has anyone else read this book?  What are your thoughts on it?  What about other books you are reading?  Feel free to share your own thoughts and insights in the comments below!

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The Best Photo Blogs for 2010


As photographers we are always seeking out new sources of information that can help us with our work – whether it be pixel-crunching sites, creative inspiration sites, or news and trending information sites.  As I go through my RSS feeds and Alltop favorites every day, over the past year, some were filtering to the top much more often.  Naturally, this happens every year, as has been the case for the past 3 years now.  When I started this annual event back in 2007, the number coincided with the year, so to wit, here are my TOP TEN PHOTO BLOGS FOR 2009.  This may serve as a good starting point for 2010, so the blog post is titled accordingly, even though this is more of a “Year in Review” type of writing regarding photography blogs.  As always, lists are subjective and others will have different thoughts and opinions, but nevertheless, here’s my faves (meaning these blogs are in my Alltop or RSS ):

  1. Joe McNally’s Blog – The perfect blend of tongue-in-cheek stories, and yet educational and fun to read!  This quickly ratcheted up to the top of my preferred favorites, and it should be in your list too! (And his books are of the same ilk:  read The Moment it Clicks and The Hotshoe Diaries as soon as possible if you haven’t already…)
  2. David DuChemin’s Blog – As David said it best – “Ahhh…..Vision!”  If you are yearning to touch the intangible and learn about creativity, David DuChemin’s blog is a must read!  (I hear he has a few books too!)
  3. Petapixel – Very similar to this one, in that it is informative, interesting, and almost always tied to photography.  He wisely started without a vendor association though, and it’s paid off in spades (he’s been around less than a year, and has double the readership).  Of course it could be that his content is pretty kick-butt and mine is just the meandering mind of an individual.  Nevertheless, a great read and congrats to them for the content they are putting out!
  4. Strobist – If you don’t know about David Hobby’s site, then you are in the dark (literally!), because it’s all about light!  Anything you want to know about photography lighting, this is the place to go.  With workshops, and primers for both the beginners and advanced shooters, this is an absolute must-read!
  5. Canon Rumors – What can I say?  I am a Canon guy, so I am always interested in the news and rumblings of Canon’s next great move in the digital photography realm, and this has become my premiere source of information on the web aside from Canon directly!
  6. Weekly Photo Tips – Authored by Scott Eccleston, this blog is a mixture of tips, tutorials, and personal thoughts on a variety of subjects to include gear, post processing, and such.  Worth the read just for the human aspect of photography.
  7. Photowalk Pro – Jeff is the de facto master at organizing photo walks, and although I’ve been on walks since before discovering his blog – his insights have helped me to organize better walks, be a better organizer, and his subsequent foray into photography (HDR) tutorials and photo books (a review on his book about the 50D is forthcoming!).  Definitely one worth adding to the reader!
  8. The Online Photographer – Not the usual fare, as TOP can get very professorial.  I learn a lot though, and gain insights and get creative inspiration from the photographers and works they discuss here.  The entire staff is great, but my favorite writers are Mike himself and Ctein!
  9. Photojojo – What a great blog, creative ways to use your photos all the time.  Not only are the ideas cool, but almost always they are highly economical.  Definitely for the DIY-er!  They also have great photo montages periodically, so also great for inspiring some creative vision!
  10. Photoshop Insider – Want to get the latest scoop on Photoshop and photography in general?  Scott has taken a a great Photoshop resource and in the last year, merged it into his own foray into photography from the perspective of being behind the camera.

There’s my top ten blogs for 2010.  It’s certainly not definitive, definitely biased, and subject to change at a moments notice, but as of today, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!  What are your favorite photo-related blogs?  Now’s a chance to shamelessly promote your work (or your friends work) in the comments!