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Natural Focus

David Boag's Interactive DVD

I'm sure as a photographer, like me you will have read photography books that teach the ways of composition or how to take the perfect portrait, but with this interactive DVD from renowned wildlife photographer David Boag, the idea of the photography book is taken one step further. With over 1000 photos and containing much more information than any book could, I was really looking forward to this review.


For those who don't know, David Boag is a wildlife photographer, one of the first pioneers of bird photography over 30 years ago, being the first person to capture flying, diving, courting and many more aspects of Kingfishers. He is the author of 18 books on photography and had his work used in many places over the years.


First Impressions


Just like a new book, when Natural focus arrived, I had a quick flick through some of the subjects and to see some of the images and I was impressed with how easily it all seemed to work. Simply placing the DVD in the drive of my PC (there is a MAC version also available) the DVD opened automatically and I was able to click through the subject matter as I wished.


The Heart of the Work


Working through in order it is very much apparent how like an instructional photography book it is, there are the usual instructions on how the camera works, choosing lenses etc. but this is with the added benefit of interactivity meaning you get more of an understanding then just reading words alone (more on this later).


It is when you get into the meat of the topics about different wildlife genres that the work really comes to life! Not only are the sections about Mammals (including reptiles and amphibians), Birds, Insects and underwater, excellently written and interspersed with some wonderful images (and details of how these were achieved), but these segments are equally interactive with useful links back to topics that are involved in the shooting process (for example when discussing macro work, the use of aperture comes up this is then linked back to the sector on Aperture so you can easily click back to review what you learnt), or interactive tools to show how things could have been different.


Interactivity


There have been, over the years, a number of times I have not quite understood technical information or ideas when first reading them in a book, but with the interactive element of this DVD the less obvious techniques are demonstrated with interactive tutorials that allow you to actually see the effects of what you have just learned (an example being on the aperture section you can physically see that a larger aperture number means a smaller hole). There are many of these dotted around the DVD and I found them great to not only show the learning's but also increase the enjoyment (The blinking cat was quite funny).


For me this is what made the whole DVD so great, while David's images are fantastic the way he teaches is even better.


Learning


As I am already an amazing wildlife photographer, Ok I'm lying, but I know the ins and outs of it all, I have quite a good understanding of the subject, but I still found it an incredibly useful tool. There were aspects that I am sure will improve my photography, but for those not au fait with the genre, there is a huge amount to be gained by using "Natural focus" and an awful lot to learn.


With David's style of writing I found learning the new information to be very easy and with the interactive elements, not only was it quicker I also found the information seemed to stick more.


In terms of subjects studied David has managed to capture an incredible amount of information and relay it to us, the readers, in simple easy to understand chunks, and with David's style of writing I found learning the new information to be very easy add to that the interactive elements, and not only was it quicker I also found the information seemed to stick more.


Availability


Available through David's website http://naturalfocus.co.uk/ in either a PC or a MAC format, there are two options for purchasing the DVD tutorials either as a whole complete set or more interestingly as a monthly subscription package (at ?6.80 (UK) per month), allowing you to learn at a steady pace. For wildlife photography enthusiasts I would suggest this would be better than any magazine subscription.


Any drawbacks


The only real negative I have is possibly one that is purely personal. I find it hard to spend long periods of time reading from a computer screen, but even this wasn't too much of an issue as the text was usually on a complimentary back ground, that seem to me to reduce the usual flicker associated with black text on a white background.

I guess there is also the portability issue, it's not so easy to read a computer in bed, or "other" places as it would be a book, but then a book containing this much would probably not be easy to carry around either.


Conclusions


I am of the opinion that the style David writes with combined with his wonderful skills as a photographer and the really interesting aspects of interactivity Natural focus is a wonderful piece of work, incredibly informative, brilliantly designed and covering a subject close to my heart.


I also think the idea to offer this as a monthly subscription, almost drip feeding the learner in bite sized chunks, is a great idea, and I would certainly prefer to hear the thump as it landed on my door mat each month over many other magazines, and at not much more cost.


Final Thoughts


I would highly recommend this to anyone who wants to learn more about wildlife photography, especially in the monthly format, what better way to get a regular enjoyment?


Natural focus is available through David's website: http://naturalfocus.co.uk/From Guest Reviewer Ashley Crombet-Beolens http://www.fatphotographer.net