The Low Light Photography Field Guide (Photographer's Field Guide) Paperback – 7 Nov 2011
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Go beyond daylight to capture stunning low light images
About the Author
Michael Freeman, professional photographer and best-selling author, 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. In 1971 he made the life-changing decision to travel up the Amazon with two secondhand cameras, and when Time-Life used many of the pictures he came back with, he embarked on a full-time photographic career.
Since then, working for clients that include all the world's major magazines, most notably the Smithsonian Magazine (for which he has shot more than 40 stories over 30 years), Freeman's reputation as one of the world's leading reportage photographers has been consolidated. Of his many books, which have sold over 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.
Freeman's books on photography have been translated into 27 languages.
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There is a down side though, and that is down to the publishing rather than the writing. To make it into a "field guide" the book has been crammed into a 12cm X 15.5cm format which means that the text is so tiny and would be a struggle to read in anything but perfect conditions. Worse still is that many of the images are no bigger than a postage stamp. Consequently it is impossible to really tell from looking at them the extent to which Freeman's lessons hold true. We just have to take his (very small) word for it, as there's no way that we can see for ourself. It may have been possible to give both pictures and text more space, by cutting out some of the text, as some of it though great at giving comprehensive coverage is surely superfluous in a field guide. Alternatively, and my preferred option, would have been to publish everything scaled up in a larger volume so that it is easier to read and a joy to look at. Sadly the publishers have done neither of those two things.
In short, if you've got 20/20 vision and want a book that gives lots of suggestions on how to improve your low light photography that you will read in perfect conditions, this could be the one for you. If you are looking for something to use in the field in low light conditions, you might prefer to look elsewhere.
From a purely personal viewpoint, a Field Guide should contain whatever information is vital to the activity that comprises the remainder of its title. Low Light photography is a subject that has reared its head in others of Freeman's titles, but usually in a rather limited way. What he may have done is to assemble all those bits and brought them together is a more meaningful and complete way, adding whatever additional information that was required to fill-in any gaps. Freeman is usually a very safe author, but he does sometimes miss his target. This may be one such, but the miss is a narrow one.
A field guide should also be small enough either to fit into a pocket or in an available corner of a camera bag. At a little over 5x4 inches, this fits that bill and the number of its pages is just about at the limits of pocketability at 192, although fewer would have been better.
As some of Freeman's books pre-date the near-complete takeover by digital from film, some portions may have needed a rewrite. Digital imposes some limitations and a tripod may be needed as it was before. However, with digital being able to utilise ISO speeds way beyond those commonly found in film (200-400 was typical for many colour films, but there were few faster) and with a fast prime lens - possibly f/1.4-2.8 for the shorter focal lengths and f/2.8-4 for the longer ones - in combination with some of the higher ISO settings but not necessarily the very highest, hand-held photography may be possible at moderate exposures in some situations.
How much of this book you will find useful may depend on your personal experiences. It is pretty good, but I feel that it is somehow incomplete. There are several alternate titles on this subject, some of which are a little better. As with several photography titles, this may be one of those books that you will want to peruse before committing to a purchase.
What a pity - such a good book with such a handicap. It is however inexpensive so even two or three good tips come cheap compared with the price of expensive equipment.
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