Captivated! by Moose’s Magnum Opus of Wildlife Photography

There is no more accomplished photographer of North American wildlife than Moose Peterson. Fortunately for all of us there is also no other photographer as generous at sharing their hard won knowledge as Moose. In a series of books over the years he has shared the state of the art in film and then digital wildlife and nature photography with his readers. This time in “Captured!” he has gone beyond sharing just the why and how of his photographic craft by sharing dozens of pages of invaluable knowledge about where to go for amazing wildlife photography adventures and what to do when you get there to make the most of the opportunity.

One reason I count Moose as a mentor as well as a friend is his absolute respect for wildlife, embodied in his (and now also my) credo of “No photograph is worth sacrificing the welfare of the subject.” Captured! does a world class job of not just providing tips on where and how to see wildlife but how to approach it safely and sanely and what not to do. Many photographers mean well but inadvertently stress their subjects because they don’t know their biology or recognize the tell-tale signs. Moose provides plenty of insight on that topic as well as advice on what does work.

  Captured: Lessons from Behind the Lens of a Legendary Wildlife Photographer (Voices That Matter) is available online from Amazon for the discounted price of $34.64.

What’s in the Book

At 400 pages chock full of photographic information and illustrative images it is tempting to say “everything.” And that’d be pretty close. Moose takes you through his learnings on many different bird and mammal species, ranging from how to find and photograph nesting birds and nestlings without danger to the birds to how to safely photograph large mammals. But there is much more. Those practical lessons are woven in with lots of background on how Moose looks at light, flash, exposure, focus and other traditionally technical topics. But Moose brings them to life with his folksy style and real life examples of how and when his methods have gotten him his amazing shots.

Several readers have already commented that they wished that the book was a “coffee table” book with glossy pages. Frankly I don’t see how it could have been. A 400-page coffee table book full of images would have cost a fortune and would be too big to bring along on a trip for reference. So it is great that the book packs all its information into a relatively compact but still very nicely printed soft cover format.

How to Read Captured!

Readers used to skimming the table of contents to see what a book is about are in for a surprise. Moose has continued his folksy writing style into the chapter titles with colorful names like “Hold onto Your Pants!” and “They Set the Stage.” Fortunately for the browser the book has an excellent index. So you’ve got a couple options for how to approach the book. If you’ve got the time it makes a great read from front to back, a narrative of Moose’s career of discovery as a photographer interwined with endless pearls of what he learned and how. By the end I guarantee you will have learned plenty of photography tips and better yet some new ways to think about your photography and about wildlife.

But if you’re looking for a “quick fix” or information on a particular topic or location, head to the index. Whether you want to brush up on your flash techniques or are headed off to Yellowstone, Yosemite or one of the many other places Moose lays out in the book the index is your friend. If you’re like me you’ll use a mixture of these two approaches to read the book. End to end is great for leisure reading and the index makes it a wonderful reference.

Who Should Buy It

Anyone who is interesting in watching and learning about wildlife will learn from reading Captured! But of course the target audience is really wildlife and nature photographers. If you’re either you absolutely should have this book on your shelf and try to make time to read as much of it as you can. As far as I’m concerned there isn’t a better value available for wildlife photographer education than this one! Captured: Lessons from Behind the Lens of a Legendary Wildlife Photographer is available online from Amazon for the discounted price of $34.64