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The Complete Guide to Night & Low Light Digital Photography (Complete Guides) Paperback – 30 Jun 2008

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More About the Author

Michael Freeman, professional photographer and author, with 135 book titles to his credit, was born in England in 1945, took a Masters in Geography at Brasenose College, Oxford University, and then worked in advertising in London for six years. He made the break from there in 1971 to travel up the Amazon with two secondhand cameras, and when Time-Life used many of the pictures extensively in the Amazon volume of their World's Wild Places series, including the cover, they encouraged him to begin a full-time photographic career.

Since then, working for editorial clients that include all the world's major magazines, and notably the Smithsonian Magazine (with which he has had a 30-year association, shooting more than 40 stories), Freeman's reputation has been consolidated as one of the leading reportage photographers. Of his many books, which have sold 4 million copies worldwide, more than 60 titles are on the practice of photography - for this photographic educational work he was awarded the Prix Louis Philippe Clerc by the French Ministry of Culture, and he is the world's leading author on photographic practice. Having been for many years responsible for the distance-learning courses on photography at the UK's Open College of the Arts, Freeman now runs a monthly online Photography Foundation Course at

Freeman's books on photography have been translated into 27 languages, and are available on all other Amazon international sites.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 13 reviews
97 of 107 people found the following review helpful
Yet another disappointing Night Photography book 26 Jun. 2008
By Lance Keimig - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really, truly wanted to love this book. I wanted to recommend it to my students, and I wanted it to finally be a useful Night Photography textbook. Unfortunately, it falls tremendously short of its potential on so many levels. As someone who has photographed at night for over 20 years, and taught Night Photography classes and workshops for 10 years, I feel qualified to make this judgment. The first and most obvious shortcoming is in the lack of inspiring, or even good Night Photographs. Most of the examples included are not only NOT night or low light images, but they are simply illustrations for the page, and not particularly good or interesting photographs. What a way to lose your audience in the first chapter.

To be fair, there is plenty of useful technical information, but it is generally not very well organized. (The first thing covered in the text is purple fringing and chromatic aberration!) Unfortunately, much of the information presented, while well researched and generally correct, is not really specific to the topic of the book.

Probably the greatest flaw of this book is that it does not embrace Night Photography for what it is. The author seems to have no grasp whatsoever of what it is that makes Night Photography special. In a nutshell, Night Photography is about the accumulation of time and light in an image- be it film or digital, and the way that the camera can record time in ways that the eye cannot see at night. Rather than show readers how to take advantage of the magic possible with long exposures and dramatic mixed lighting sources found at night, Freeman instructs the reader how to overcome these "challenges". Night photography is unpredictable and to a certain extent uncontrollable, and rather than embrace these things that make it unique, Freeman does everything he can to help his reader eliminate any and all risks. Night photography that "stays inside the lines" is boring. It is only by breaking the rules that Night Photographers create really exciting images, and there isn't more than a couple in this entire book. Imagine a 225 page book on Night Photography that devotes exactly THREE PARAGRAPHS to photographing by moonlight, and has zero examples of photographs taken by moonlight! There is also no chapter on light painting, which is another large omission.

There are at least a dozen books on the market supposedly about Night and low light photography, and they pretty much all focus on the "Low Light" part of the equation-Christmas lights, neon signs, fireworks, theatre or sporting events at night. This is not Night Photography, but simply how to extend daytime shooting methods into low light situations. Michael Freeman's disappointing book is just another one added to the pile. To date, Andrew Sanderson's "Night Photography" is the best text published on the subject, but it is almost entirely a black and white film book, and therefore of limited use in today's digital world. I'm sure that many people will find something useful in Freeman's book, and some will disagree with my assessment. In the end, it simply does not inspire the reader to go out and photograph at night, either with the text or especially the illustrations. It is certainly not for the novice.

The resource section in the back of the book lists only Freeman's other books, and none of the other published materials on Night and Low Light photography. His list of websites does not include links to any Night Photography sites or resources, most particularly [...] which is the undisputed champion of Night Photography online resources. He also offers no resources for classes or workshops on the subject, of which there are several, both in the US and abroad. There is a strong sense of community and sharing amongst Night Photographers, supported by both online and real world resources like The Nocturnes, local meet ups, and Flickr. Freeman is clearly not in touch with this community, which to me explains to a large degree why this book fails to hit the mark. As I said earlier in the review, there is a lot of useful technical information in this book, but it has no heart or soul.

Jill Waterman's new book, "Night and Low Light Photography, Professional Techniques from Experts for Artistic and Commercial Success" is much better than this, or any other book released on the topic to date. (disclaimer: I am a minor contributor to Jill's book, with no financial interest) Night and Low-Light Photography: Professional Techniques from Experts for Artistic and Commercial Success
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Complete, It's Not 4 Aug. 2008
By Travel a lot - Published on
Format: Paperback
Not what I expected. I thought that there would be much more emphasis and discussion on how to TAKE acceptable photos in a low light environment. This book says. in esssence, to take repeated photos with the camera set at low ISO, wide apperture and slow shutter and then fix the botched result back home using well described photo software programs. I take many photos at night with limited success and thought that it might be worth 20 bucks to improve my average - it wasn't. If photo image manipulation had been my goal, this book provides a good detailed explanation of several programs and I would have rated it four stars.
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Looking at Things in a Different Light 15 July 2008
By Conrad J. Obregon - Published on
Format: Paperback
It's good for Michael Freeman that I decided a while ago that I would not hold it against a book if the content did not match the title. Otherwise this book would have to be called "The Complete Guide to Wide Apertures, Slow Shutter Speeds, and High ISO's".

That's because rather than concentrating on the usual stuff like metering on the sky at dusk or setting up flash units, Freeman assumes that the reader understands exposure and most post-processing and instead concentrates on what can be done to mitigate the consequences of wide apertures, slow shutter speeds and high ISO's.

After a general introduction dealing with the nature of sensors, noise and similar topics, he divides the book into two sections that at first appear idiosyncratic: hand held and locked down. Primarily he does this because he says the ways of correcting for the problems created using the two different methods are due to exposure setup. Hand held requires wide apertures and high ISOs while tripod shooting uses long exposures and these require different corrective measures in post processing. Each section first indicates methods of mitigation (steadying techniques, tripod management) and then discusses post processing, which is the meat of the book. For example, in discussing hand held shots, he points out that camera movement is a source of blur and that software tools can be used to correct for this. Freeman also has an extensive discussion of high dynamic range processing that is similar to his recent book on this topic, although the use of HDR for handheld photography is a subject not often encountered.

I hesitate to describe a text as aimed at advanced photographers since the definition of an advanced photographer depends on the individual doing the defining, but I can certainly say that this is not a book for novices. Most of the post-processing techniques offered require a thorough knowledge of image processing software, the devotion of time to handcraft an image, and occasionally the use of software above and beyond Photoshop. Moreover, to apply Freeman's suggestions, I had to sit with the book in hand and follow his procedures step by step on my own images. But the techniques Freeman offered were certainly worth the investment of my time to study, and hopefully, to apply in a low light situation.

(Freeman appeared to be using an older version of Adobe Camera Raw in some of his examples that did not include the new input sharpening facility which works in tandem with ACR's noise reduction and I wondered if there were some advantages in processing low-light images with the newer software. Hopefully he'll answer that in another book.)

The more skilled one becomes as a photographer, the harder it is to find useful advice that one has never encountered. For many skilled photographers, this book may prove useful.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Quite up to date but no inspiration 9 Nov. 2009
By Jackal - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is focusing on the technicalities of lowlight photography. There will be nothing on composition and tricks/ideas of how to take good night photos. For the technical points the book is pretty good.

I just bought my first DSLR camera. I bought ten photography books on amazon. I'm evaluating these books from the perspective of a semi-advanced amateur.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Very disappointing 2 April 2009
By Stu Farnham - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I own several of Freeman's books. I found both "Mastering Black & White Digital Photography" and (especially) "The Photographer's Eye" to be quite useful, well written, and thoughtfully laid out.

I can't say the same for "The Complete Guide to Night and Lowlight Photography". The title is misleading to say the least; the book is almost entirely devoid of guidance on image capture, focusing instead on post-capture techniques in Photoshop.

As useful as Photoshop is, I would much rather get an excellent image and tweak it post-capture than have to recover a mediocre capture. This book will provide no help with the former.
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