on 23 July 2009
Getting to grips with light is vital for making the leap from mediocre photographs. For example, many photos are spoiled by harsh shadows, but these can be turned to stunning pictures aided by higher quality, soft light - if the photographer knows what they are doing. However, light can be a complicated subject and this book commendably translates an thorough overview of the subject into comprehensible language.
The differences between different types of light - such as tungsten, fluorescent and firelight - and how they will affect picture-taking is well covered, as is the relationship between light and the aperture of the camera. There are particularly strong sections on interpreting through-the-lens light meters, how histograms work, and making the most out of flash and out of studio lighting.
I've never before seen such a good explanation of the normally over-complicated issue of colour calibration. It explains what the industry standard settings are for colour temperature, gamma and overall brightness, and the difference between sRGB, ProPhoto and Adobe RGB. This is a topic that often causes no end of confusion for photographers - amateur and professional alike - and yet the book explains it flawlessly. It avoids the mistaken (but commonly claimed) view that a bigger colour space is necessarily better, and explains which colour space is better suited to which sort of work. It also gives helpful advice on how to switch between spaces, and when to do this.
The book is both suited to film and digital users, and covers both types of photography, including how to select a film suited to a particular type of light. Being a digital camera user, I actually found the section on the zone system (for film camera users) quite interesting - it helped me understand, and want to try out, the digital equivalent, High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging, which the book also covers. The vast majority of content is applicable whichever method type of camera is used.
I really liked this book. If you're like me, you'll be enthused to further your knowledge after reading it with lots of actual photography and also by reading further on some of the topics that most appeal to your photographic interests. As a predominantly landscape photographer, I'm pleased to have learned about studio lighting from this book, but it'll be the knowledge I've picked up on HDR and colour calibration that I'll want to keep developing. This 200 page book won't teach you everything (how could it?), but what it does really well is give a very strong overview of light, helping photographers become gain a good grasp of the subject.
And, unlike a lot of books that are filled with waffle, this one is packed with useful information. I would recommend it highly as an indespensible addition to any up-and-coming photographer's bookcase.
on 24 June 2011
More instructional than inspirational which may not suit all. Very slanted to working in the industry with a severe headmasterly tone at time ("keep that project note book up to date at all times, my lad"). Very well written and clear. Big down side is that the advertised web links do not seem to work, at least for me.