Book Review: “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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2 comments for “Book Review: “Captured” by Moose Peterson

  1. January 25, 2011 at 12:17 am

    Pretty thorough review of Moose’s book. Thank you.

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