97 of 107 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
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