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Light: Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting [Paperback]

Fil Hunter , Steven Biver , Paul Fuqua
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

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Light Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting Light Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting 4.8 out of 5 stars (31)
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Book Description

23 Mar 2007
An amazing (and some would say magical) resource on photographic lighting that has been talked about in the community and recommended for years. This highly respected guide has been thoroughly updated and revised for content and design - it is now produced in full color! It introduces a logical theory of photographic lighting so if you are starting out in photography you will learn how to predict results before setting up lights. This is not primarily a how-to book with only set examples for you to copy. Rather, Light: Science and Magic provides you with a comprehensive theory of the nature and principles of light to allow you to use lighting to express your own creativity.

Numerous photographs and illustrations provide clear examples of the theories, while sidebars highlight special lighting questions. Expanded chapters on available light in portraiture, as well as new information on digital equipment and terminology make this a must have update!

Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Focal Press; 3 edition (23 Mar 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0240808193
  • ISBN-13: 978-0240808192
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 15.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 123,907 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


"There truly is a lot to like about Light: Science and magic. First, it is the most complete reference to lighting that I have seen. Second, the authors, while assuming that you know little about lighting, present the topic in a nondemeaning manor, and advance the topic very quickly."  -BC Books (May 2007)

"'This is the first book I have seen on photographic lighting that is worth using as a text. Light-Science and Magic is about principles, not cheap tricks or the authors' portfolio. Thanks."---Pete Christman, Savannah College of Art and Design.

About the Author

Steven Biver, Virginia, USA, Commercial photographer, former clients include Adobe, Mobil, Newsweek, Black and Decker
Paul Fuqua, Virginia, USA, started his own audiovisual production company in 1970. Dedicated to teaching through visuals, he has written and produced educational and training material in a variety of fields, including law, science, and nature. His photography takes him all over the world, but he makes his home in Arlington, VA.
Fil Hunter is a highly respected commercial photographer specializing in still life and special effects photographs for advertising and editorial illustration. During a career spanning over three decades, he has worked for such clients as America Online, US News, Time-Life Books, Life Magazine (27 covers), the National Science Foundation, and National Geographic. He has taught photography at the university level and has served as technical consultant on a number of photographic publications. Mr. Hunter has won the Virginia Professional Photographer's Grand Photographic Award three times. He lives in Alexandria, VA.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
75 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good buy, excellent info 28 Oct 2008
I was looking for some literature regarding lighting that would cover basics for product photography. Unfortunately, most books endulge in a certain high level lingo that would confuse most of the readers. One could easily see which author has more experience based on the level of simplicity he or she uses in order to explain some concepts. A friend of mine lent me this book and I have now the chance to write a short review about it.
First of all: the book is excellent. The paper and printing quality (full color for all photographs and diagrams) are outstanding. One can easily see essential details in images, like different textures and apperance of surfaces under various lighting setups. So this is a big plus.
The book is divided in 10 chapters as follow:

1. How to learn lighting; this chapter gives you basic information regarding general lighting principles, the way the author chose the examples and - most important - why did he chose those examples, the rationale behind all exercises and some hints for the way you should approach each exercise (procedures, goals - what you should get) and also some general information about shooting equipment that one needs in order to perform the exercises in the book.

2. Light: the raw material for photography. This chapter explains in detail, but not to boredom and in a very plain and explicit manner the properties of light that each photographer should know and understand in order to take proper images. What I most liked is the fact that the author starts from a basic principle (almost as an axiom) that the most important factor for photography is not the gear but the light and the way a photographer understands and uses light.

3. The management of reflection and the family of angles.
Read more ›
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars essential reading 13 Aug 2007
This is a book about light: how it works, and how to use it.
It teaches you to understand what you see (in fact, what you have always seen, but perhaps never realised). Diffuse reflections and direct reflections and how to use each (or both) to optimally illuminate what you are photographing. How to photograph metal and glass: explaining dark- and light-field set-ups, and white-on-white and black-on-black ...
The information contained in this book should be a standard for all photographers: it teaches by helping you understand the concept of light, and not by showing you how award-winning images were made.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent practical lighting book 3 July 2007
I've been dabbling in photography for years, but studio lighting was always a bit hit and miss for me. Then I bought this book after seeing it recommended on the Strobist lighting blog, and I'm glad I did! It contains loads of diagrams, practical advice, and clear explanations with examples. Now it's all starting to make sense at last!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally brilliant 6 Nov 2008
This is probably the best book for photographers that I have ever read (and I have a big shelf full of photography books). It's written in a very readable style and tackles pretty much any lighting situation you might face with your camera.

It's particularly good for its simple and memorable explanation of lighting portraits, and is completely indispensible for anyone who photographs "products", e.g. for selling on ebay. (Have you ever tried to take a decent picture of a coin, a metal ball, or a textured item of clothing? It can be really tricky to represent things as they really are - this book shows you how to do it.)

I can't recommend this book enough: if you are interested in improving your photography, whether you have a DSLR or a compact camera, buy this book!

I reckon if you have this book plus "The Photographer's Eye" (Freeman) and "Exposure and Lighting for Digital Photographers" (Meadhra & Lowrie), you have all the reading you need to develop your photography as far as you want. The rest is down to practice, practice, practice :)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I bought this after it was recommended on the Online Photographer, and was not disappointed. I've read plenty of books/articles/blogs on lighting before, but this book taught me something new. It focuses on explaining how to decide what kind of light to use, and where to place the lights. Very clearly written, with useful diagrams to explain the text. It immediately improved my understanding of how to set up lights for portraiture and gave great results on my next portrait shoot, but it's probably even more useful for those needing to illuminate difficult surfaces like metal and glass. Highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential book advanced enthusiast to pros. 8 Aug 2009
This is a fantastic book. I'm not a professional, but have earned some money with photography. I take pictures for 22 years; myself developed and printed photos in darkroom for years. I may have learned something myself but this book was like a good thriller reading.
The book is for intermediate to professional photographers; very informative; technical language is kept right to the point; good narrative language; enough information to keep you 'photo brain' busy for ever.

Thanks to authors. Well done!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lern how to light! 5 Aug 2009
By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE
This book will teach you how to light, and how light works. It takes a lot of guesswork out of photographic lighting and will teach you how to take better photographs.

The book is accurate, concise, and well written. I couldn't have asked for a better book.

The techniques work for whatever lighting system you're using, even if it is a window or a desklight. Don't let your lack of kit put you off - all you need is some light and a camera you can control. No regrets here, I'm really glad I have this book. I still use it whenever a new lighting puzzle comes my way.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
If you are in any way serious about photography you are going to love this book, no matter what you prefer to point your camera at. This is a must read.
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars love it. a treasure.
Bought this book expecting to be bored stiff; I got quite the opposite. Loads of excellent info for all kinds of photography. Read more
Published 7 months ago by GIMAGES
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent book
all photographers professional and amateur should readd this, i have bought two of these for two different trainees i have had ove the years.
Published 8 months ago by gerry morgan
4.0 out of 5 stars Light Science & Magic.
Light Science & Magic.
A very good book on lighting but i was looking for more detailed and show how on multiple flash photography. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Cokey g
5.0 out of 5 stars Gives you technical information with no fuss
This is a really good guide on how to manipulate lighting for photographers.

It covers items that are tricky to light such as glass and highly reflective objects but it... Read more
Published on 27 Sep 2011 by brainleek007
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent beginners guide and easy to read
Easy to read and understand with simple diagrams to back up the text. i am a beginner to studio photography and this has already significantly improved my results. Read more
Published on 23 July 2011 by K J
5.0 out of 5 stars Light, science & magic
What a great and easy to read book, giving easy to understand explanations about light and how it reacts with different surfaces. Read more
Published on 4 April 2011 by parro55
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book!
This is the best book on photographic lighting I have seen, and I have read a dozen other books. This one is by far better than the rest in that it explains the fundamentals so... Read more
Published on 20 Mar 2011 by Mihail Iliev
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius
I've not finished reading this book yet, and I think it's fantastic. The point is that just by reading the first few chapters my understanding of light has improved immensely, to... Read more
Published on 14 Feb 2011 by Bob
5.0 out of 5 stars Get it just for White & Black Field Lighting Techniques
Simply a stunning instructional book on lighting. It can be heavy going at times, but it doesn't assume a given level of knowledge and provides detailed diagrams and photos to get... Read more
Published on 3 Jan 2011 by Kestua
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