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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Photograph Reviews Photography Book

The Photographer’s Guide to New Mexico: Where to Find Perfect Shots and How to Take Them
By Efraín M. Padró.
The Countryman Press. Woodstock, Vermont.
96pp.
$14.95

Reviewed by R Thomas Berner Professor emeritus of journalism and American studies The Pennsylvania State University


Even before I bought this book, I knew I was going to like it. My wife and I have taken two workshops with the author, one at White Sands and the other in Las Cruces, and are ready for another. I am a big fan of Efraín M. Padró’s.

Because he and I are on a first-name basis, I’ll refer to the author/photographer as Efraín.

Efraín, who’s based in Santa Fe, begins the book with a four-page section titled “How I Photograph New Mexico.” It’s right out of his workshops, and for those of us who want to be better photographers, I can attest that it’s a value-packed four pages. One thing Efraín recommends that I’ve started to do more of: If he’s not shooting something in motion, he usually sets his ISO to 100 and uses a tripod.

One very important section in the opening is a short piece on etiquette when photographing on Native American soil. For those accustomed to being around Amish or other insular groups, the information will be redundant. Nevertheless, it’s worth repeating.

Efraín has divided the book into geographical areas and within the divisions suggested places to photograph. So Northwest New Mexico lists Shiprock, El Morro and Acoma Sky City among the 11 sites. North Central includes Taos and Santa Fe. Albuquerque shows up in Central New Mexico, and the two places Paulette and I have been with Efraín, Las Cruces and White Sands, appear in Southwest and Southeast New Mexico.

The author, who includes many of his own photographs in here, not only provides seasonal ratings for each area, but suggests lenses and filters for shooting certain events. He warns you if you’re going to encounter a low-light situation (and would need a tripod) and he advises on the best times to photograph (morning and evening, which are fairly universal, as he notes). He also suggests where to stand to capture the best light depending on the time of day. Sunrises and sunsets in New Mexico provide different lighting depending on where you’re standing and what the cloud cover is like.

Efraín concludes with his list of favorite sites, which he acknowledges is subjective.

Even if you are not a serious photographer or a wannabe like me, the book is invaluable as a guide to the sites and sights of photogenic New Mexico. About the only thing missing is a restaurant guide, and given the high number of good restaurants in New Mexico, such a guide would be unnecessary.

The revierer is R Thomas Berner, Professor emeritus of journalism and American studies The Pennsylvania State University. He is now blogging at http://rtberner.blogspot.com/ . He is an
editorial consultant, freelance writer, and photographer


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