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Book Bag: How Did You Get That Shot? Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

14 June 2019

David Skernick's How Did You Get That Shot? is an unusual photography book. You notice that right away from its 10x7 page size with the binding on the short side, landscape style. Even the bookmark supplied by the publisher was tucked in horizontally.

There's a reason for this.

"When I found panoramic photography a few years ago, I realized I had discovered my unrestrained canvas," Skernick writes in the Preface. And he captures some beauties, merging multiple shots into one gorgeous scene.

But the wide format also accommodates his presentation of these mostly Northern California scenics, leaving lots of room for more explanatory text than it may at first blush seem.

Each shot has its own page (or two for those panoramas he's rather fond of) that include the essential metadata and a variety of one-paragraph discussions of settings, processing, lens, composition, accessories, time of day, location and any other tidbit he finds worth passing along. Including good places to eat.

A Spread. Some images get special treatment.

Skernick is a road warrior and he doesn't skip anything listed on the map -- or anything in between the listings. And he knows not just a good meal but a good joke when he sees one. He seems like the perfect travel companion.

One of things we appreciated right away about this delightful book was that the images were taken with a variety of cameras and lenses, some of them from the earliest days of digital photography.

That's because Skernick is no newbie. He earned a bachelor's degree in photography in 1977, founding PHOTO24 in 1981 to sell decorative nature photography. He knows what matters when something catches your eye and suggests just what a camera can do about it.

Typical Presentation. The image, Exif data and notes.

The cameras of choice are Nikons but they include the D2X, D300, D700, D800E, D500, D600 and D7100. He even converted the D700 to infrared to squeeze a little more life out of it.

Lots of Panoramas. This one is an infrared shot on a D700.

Inevitably perhaps, not all of the images are prize winners. But you can learn from those too, after all.

He sums up his philosophy on page 139:

All photography is about action. We capture moments in time that will never return. That is one of the 17,000 reasons I love taking pictures. What you record is yours. You own the moment. Don't miss it by overthinking.

With 144 test cases, so to speak, grouped by location, this isn't the kind of book you read through from front to back. That would be like overthinking.

Instead, it's more like a box of candy that you pick and choose from, sometimes, sneaking a peek at the bottom layer.

Don't feel guilty. However you approach this collection, you won't be disappointed.

How Did You Get That Shot?: A Photographer's Journal from America's Back Roads by David Skernick, published by Schiffer, 192 pages, $29.99 (or $20.52 at

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