Creating a photobook with impact, with Canon hdbook: David Noton reveals all

A top-down shot of Home Patch, David Noton's photobook created with Canon hdbook.
David Noton chose a photo of dawn over Compton Pauncefoot in Somerset, England, for the cover image of his Home Patch photobook, produced using Canon's hdbook photobook creator. © David Noton Photography

Veteran landscape photographer David Noton has published five printed photography books, along with educational e-books and his online f11 Photography Magazine. Unlike the fleeting clicks and likes garnered via social media, a book is tangible, permanent and – as such – deeply rewarding, says David. If a book is done well, publishing your work can also bring professional benefits.

In his 34 years in the business, David has built his career travelling to faraway corners of the globe to capture jaw-dropping vistas. "And yet," he says, "some of my strongest images are shot within a few miles of home". For his latest publication, Home Patch, David turned his attention to the Somerset-Dorset border, the area of England where he has lived for 25 years. It's a place that offers a continual source of creative inspiration. "You don't need to travel to New Zealand or wherever; there are stunning pictures to be had on your doorstep," he says.

Here, David tells us about creating this photobook, explains the benefits to pro photographers of creating photobooks, and how to make one yourself with Canon's hdbook service.

The Milky Way over a coastal arch.
"There are stunning pictures to be had literally on your doorstep." David's dramatic shot of the Milky Way over Durdle Door on England's Jurassic Coast features in his book. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM lens at 16mm, 90 secs, f/2.8 and ISO12800. © David Noton Photography
A double-page spread from David Noton's photobook Home Patch showing a panoramic coastal shot across both pages.
Panoramic images stretching across both pages add variety and interest to David's photobook, and do justice to the original beautiful shots by giving them space to sing. © David Noton Photography

1. Boost your business

Ultimately, says David, a photobook fulfils three main criteria for a professional photographer. "Firstly, it's a great display item. At The Photography Show [a large photography trade show in the UK], during four days of networking, I was able to say to people, 'Look, this is my latest book,' and put it in front of them," he explains. "People respond differently to prints, or to a book, than they do to pictures on a screen. It's a very powerful tool and worth doing for that reason alone."

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Secondly, it's an exclusive commercial product that David can sell to members of f11. "We're selling it exclusively to f11 members as a way of making them feel part of something special. Only 50 will ever be made, hopefully making the book a collector's item," he says.

Thirdly, publishing Home Patch has inspired David to keep pushing himself. "All photographers have moments when they think, 'What's the point?'. There’s a huge motivational aspect to doing a photobook – it's so satisfying. I'm really fired up to do more."

David created Home Patch using Canon's hdbook service, which enabled him to combine a professionally printed and bound book. Eager to produce something special, he worked with Canon's hdbook team to make a photobook with a completely customised layout that he designed using Adobe InDesign. This bespoke service is available to professional photographers requiring multiple copies of a photobook, whether it's for your own business reasons or for a client. You can request this service by getting in touch via your local Canon office.

Alternatively, you can download the free hdbook software for a fast way to create a photobook using a range of pre-existing page templates. To use these, simply install the software, navigate to your photos and create your hdbook using a wide range of templates and easy-to-use editing tools – or use auto-flow to populate your layout quickly. Once you have finished, you can order online and have your book delivered to your door or collect it from your preferred local partner.

You may order as many books as you need. David orders five at a time. "Each book is messaged and signed by myself, so they come here to be personalised before being sent to the buyer," he explains.

A panoramic image of green fields stretching down to the sea at dawn.
Opting for hdbook's A3 landscape format meant that David was able to "go large" with his panoramic images, such as this photo of the Jurassic Coast taken from Swyre Head on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset, England. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens at 100mm, 1/160 sec, f/8 and ISO800. © David Noton Photography

2. Go big and beautiful

David was giving a talk on the Canon stand at Photokina 2018 when he first had the idea to publish Home Patch as a photobook. "I was showing my images on an 8K super-high-resolution, super-wide screen, and the quality was amazing. I'd never experienced anything like it before. I create these images, and I see them big, but sometimes no-one else does. This was an opportunity to go large with my panoramic shots."

Canon hdbooks are available in A3 landscape, A4 landscape, A4 portrait or square 21 x 21cm or 30 x 30cm formats. David opted for the largest available format, A3 landscape, so he could stretch his panoramas over double-page spreads. "Initially, I was worried about the impact of spreading them across the divide, but thanks to hdbook's FlatSpread binding feature [which means you don't lose any of the photograph in the gutter between the pages], it works."

David Noton reading his photobook, Home Patch.
Home Patch, David's latest photobook created with Canon's hdbook, showcases the quality of his dramatic landscape photography. "A photobook is a great display item" David explains. "It's a very powerful tool and worth doing for that reason alone." © Jeremy Walker
A sunset over the sea.

Job swap: learning landscape photography

What happens when pros swap genres? David Noton shows a wedding, a family and two sports photographers how to shoot landscapes.

3. Tell your story

Once David had pinned down his theme, he decided to structure the book around the passage of the four seasons. "Working on a project like this gets the creative juices flowing," he says. "That is one of the benefits of doing a book: it gives you a sense of purpose."

There were gaps in the timeframe that he wanted to cover, so last autumn and winter he went out and shot more material with his Canon EOS 5DS R, Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and Canon EOS R. Because of the size of the book, "quality was paramount," he says. "I knew the reproduction quality would be good, but I had to make sure the quality of my images could stand up to that. The sharpness and clarity that you get from cameras such as the 50-megapixel EOS 5DS R is phenomenal, and it shows in the book."

A double-page spread from David Noton's photobook Home Patch showing a picture of a fields at dawn, plus graphics and text.
Graphics, maps and informative captions in David's photobook, created with Canon's hdbook, help to add value for new readers. © David Noton Photography

4. Expand your audience

One of David’s aims for the book was to share some highlights from f11 Photography Magazine that would impress new and existing readers, so alongside each shot he included extended captions with technical information detailing not only the camera and lens used, but also the time of day, the precise location and the direction of the camera. "I was trying to illustrate the amount of planning that goes into a shoot. People think landscape photography is about wandering out the door and stumbling across great vistas, but it never happens like that. There's a huge amount of preparation."

David also added graphics to further enhance the informative feel of the book. As part of the bespoke service, Canon provided Adobe InDesign base files that were already optimised to meet Canon's production requirements. This meant David's creative team could insert these graphics alongside his photographs and captions without delay or hassle.

"Almost every picture in the book is accompanied by a graphic and a map showing the direction of the sun and which way the camera was pointing," David explains. "That really lifted the book, making it more than a photo album."

Mist rising over fields and horses.
Good quality images deserve good quality reproduction, and hdbook's high definition 7-ink printing technology means photos, such as David's image of a misty morning near Milborne Wick in Somerset, England, are beautifully detailed. Taken on a Canon EOS 5DS R with a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens at 170mm, 1 sec, f/16 and ISO100. © David Noton Photography

5. Do your work justice

David felt that the incredibly high quality 2,400dpi resolution afforded by Canon hdbook's Inkjet printing technology was perfectly suited to his sweeping landscapes. "The depth of colour is just beautiful. When you hold the book in your hands, it's a wonderful experience, so different to looking at pictures on a smartphone or tablet."

Hdbooks are printed using Canon's Inkjet photo printing technology, as opposed to conventional silver halide technology. Micro-nozzles in the FINE (Full-Photolithography Inkjet Nozzle Engineering) print head work by spraying microscopically small ink droplets, ensuring phenomenal print accuracy and smooth gradation of colours. The 7-ink system employs CMYK as well as photo cyan, photo magenta and grey inks, creating vibrant images with a wide colour gamut and precise colour control.

This printing technology is complemented by Canon's specially formulated double-sided premium photo paper. Ink can be received into this paper evenly, preventing any smudging and further ensuring accuracy of the print. David chose Canon photo paper with a smooth, high-gloss finish to give his images "the ultimate colour saturation and sharpness" and a high-end feel. Topped off with a beautiful hardback cover and FlatSpread binding, David's handcrafted photobook has been an asset to his business.

"This was a voyage of exploration for me. I didn't know how it was going to go," says David. "It's the biggest format book available and it's got quite a few pages. I knew it was going to be expensive, but I thought, 'Let's just produce the best book possible and see if anyone buys it'. And they have!"

Skrivet av Rachel Segal Hamilton

David Noton’s kitbag

The key kit pros use to take their landscape photographs

David Noton's kitbag, containing Canon camera bodies including an EOS R, plus a range of Canon lenses.


Canon EOS 5DS R

Designed to deliver the ultimate in DSLR image quality, with 50.6-megapixel resolution and a low-pass cancellation filter that maximises the sharpness of the camera's sensor. "The sharpness and clarity is phenomenal," says David.

Canon EOS R

A pioneering full-frame mirrorless camera that sets new standards. A full-frame 30.3 megapixel sensor with impressive detail, ISO performance and Dual Pixel CMOS AF. "Anyone shooting landscapes will look favourably on a camera that gives you full-frame resolution in a system that is lighter and much more compact," says David.


Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM

A compact, high-performance zoom lens. A 4-stop Image Stabilizer and high-quality optics deliver superb sharpness. "It's a great lens, brilliantly sharp, and for its maximum focal length it's wonderfully portable," says David.

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM lens

A premium-quality ultra-wide-angle zoom lens, with a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture, for the highest image quality possible even in low light conditions. "Very useful for landscape work, particularly to maximise foreground interest," David says, "and also for night sky photography – the f/2.8 aperture is useful for keeping exposures shorter without needing a high ISO."

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