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The Art Of Underwater Photography - Back In Stock
By Matt J. Weiss, September 20, 2008 @ 02:00 AM (EST)
We felt it appropriate to finally post our review on Andrea & Antonella Ferrari's A Diver's Guide to The Art of Underwater Photography, now that it is in it’s second round of printing. After quickly selling out of the first print run, the book from my fellow DPG editors is now available once again online and in many book stores.

In every sense, A Diver's Guide to The Art of Underwater Photography is not your typical underwater photography book. One only needs to read the opening lines to understand the tone of the book. Andrea starts with a rumination on the motivation behind why someone may take pictures underwater. A great opening for a book replete with breathtaking imagery, coupled with musings on successful techniques, composition, and perhaps above all else, the essence of the mindset for a underwater photographer.  Hence, this book is not a technical recipe for how to make images with perfect histograms, written in esoteric language that usually fills most photography books. Instead it offers sometimes controversial and valuable insights on this field from someone who has obviously been successful in it.   However, The Art of Underwater Photography should also not be confused with a book of underwater photography art, adorned with little more than beautiful images on each page. Don't get me wrong - there is definitely a place for these kinds of books. I own many myself. But perhaps the market is already saturated with the status quo, and so a fresh outlook on the subject is certainly welcome.
The Art of Underwater Photography

The book is clearly an interesting read, since its lack of sometimes boring technical jargon is replaced by more of a narrative style, giving the reader more perspective than a photography guide, per se. The book is meant to improve your photography, because it is basically the authors’ feelings on how to create successful imagery. The book, whether intentional or not, is very similar to a classic, written just a little bit earlier, Sun Tzu's the Art of War.  In the Art of War Sun Tzu offers his personal experiences on winning a battle. The Ferraris do the same, but instead, offer advice on how to “win” the perfect shot. In fact, the Ferraris use the extended metaphor of an underwater photographer being some sort of ancient warrior or fighter pilot, their camera a treasured weapon - either a samurai's sword or a sniper's bow and arrow. To make good images, the Ferraris suggest, we must achieve the mindset of such a warrior who values his sword/camera above all else - from not leaving his rig unattended to lining up his image with as much thought and care as a archer would his bow and arrow.

The Art of Underwater Photography

The book’s plentiful amount of information makes it an excellent resource for photographers of all levels. Even seasoned pros who think they may know all there is to know on a particular subject, for example, strobe placement, may still be interested to hear Andrea's personal - and without question - unique opinions on the matter. Beginners can use his guidance as an initial place to start. In fact, the special chapter on compact cameras written by Leon Joubert and Claudia Pellarini-Joubert is one of the best primers on starter cameras I have ever read, and thus, makes the book truly ideal for novices.    
The Art of Underwater Photography is organized into eight chapters. To continue my comparison, it's easy to see the similarities in the first chapters of this and the Art of War. While Sun Tzu lays out the necessary elements to gain competitive position in the battlefield in his opening chapter, the Ferraris tackle the similar issue of the necessary tools you will need to have a competitive advantage in the ocean (even offering their opinion on the Canon or Nikon debate). The rest of the chapters cover areas such as composition, picking potential targets, the zen of underwater photography, and tips for topside shots during surface intervals.
The Art of Underwater Photography

Besides the anecdotal style of the text, another staple of the Ferrari books is, of course, the striking images. Practically every page features colorful high quality images, a common trademark seen in the authors' previous publications. However, this time, they have taken the photographs a step further and have provided the reader with images from guest photographers that include some of the tops pros in the world as Doug Perrine, Alex Mustard, Eric Cheng, Steven Wong, and DPG’s very own Jason Heller. I found this feature to be particularly interesting, since Andrea offers his opinions on what makes each of the guest images successful, in hopes that the reader better understands the process of achieving success in their own original way. For this reason it seems fitting that the Ferraris left out the critical aperture and shutter speed settings from the captions. The idea is not to provide a recipe for the reader to reproduce the image on the page, but to motivate the reader into making their own art.
The Art of Underwater Photography - Jason Heller

My only gripe with the book was the layout of the guest photographers' images, which seems a bit confusing at first. When reading the book, at times I felt as if the guest photos infiltrated the main text, capturing my train of thought only for me to flip through the pages backwards and forwards to find my place.  Sometimes several pages of guest photographs separate a sentence. A small price to pay for an otherwise well laid out book.
All in all, with The Art of Underwater Photography the Ferraris have taken an entirely different approach to an information-based book. The authors' valuable insights cover your typical underwater photography topics, and then some.  As a result of an innovative outlook and creative design features, the book is a refreshing read that should prove effective in improving the images of underwater photographers of all levels. Now pick up your sword and get out in the battlefield!

You can purchase The Art of Underwater Photography on Amazon.




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