For any one new to 3D modelling, when you come to light and render your own scenes, you soon realise that it's a lot harder than you first thought. Just sticking a couple spot lights around your model or in a scene to light it, does not produce nice looking or realistic results.
For someone like me who never took art & design / photography or a related course at university this book is simply excellent!!!!
This book is written in a very clear and easy to understand style. The layout of the book is very simple with of lots pictures and examples to clearly illustrate all of the key concepts covered. This is one of the big +'s of the book as the author uses series of pictures to clearly show how certain lighting techniques and concepts can completely change the look, mood, feeling, focus or level of realism of a rendering.
This book is not specific to any one modelling package, or in fact to just computer rendering as many of the basic lighting concepts that are covered originate from photography and film.
By explaining the basics of lighting setup, the properties / qualities of light and the use of shadows and shading, the author gives you an understanding that enables you to make design decisions and improve the look, feeling and realism of your scenes.
I can not recommend this book more highly, after reading you will finally have an idea of how to approach the lighting of your scenes, and a firm grounding to build on. There are many 'golden nuggets' of info in this book and is a must read for any beginner or maybe even intermediate. One thing is for sure; by the end of this book you will have an even greater appreciation for the talent and skills of the pros :)
Maya Fundamentals 4.5 - Excellent book for beginners to Maya, the video tutorials make learning Maya and 3D modelling 10 times easier, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
[Digital] - Lighting and Rendering, Jeremy Birn, New Riders, (this book).
[Digital] - Texturing and Painting, Owen Demers, New Riders.
[Digital] - Cinematography & Directing, Dan Ablan, New Riders. .