Saturday, April 12, 2008

REVIEW: Light: Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting: Third Edition

After reading Skin by Lee Varis, I was prepared to be dazzled by complex words and theory, yet be underwhelmed by what I actually learned. I am pleased to say that in this case, I couldn't be more wrong. Light is truely an excellent book!

While this book is an advanced theory oriented text book, it is good – damn good – because it demonstrates that theory in a practical manner. This books teaches you the basic principals that help you truly understand what is going on with light and what you can do to control it. This is some advanced, but powerful stuff, and it warrants your full attention from cover to cover. In short, this is NOT a book to read when you are sleepy. It also isn't a book where you can skim or skip chapters because each chapter builds on the previous. This is heavy duty theory, but it offers practical, real-world applications that can help you become a master of light.

In addition to covering portrait lighting, this book also covers such complex topics as lighting metal, glass, shiny spheres, black on black, and white on white objects. What's more, it has the best explanation of polarization I've ever read and it is written in a way that normal people can understand. It primarily focus on studio lighting, but the theory could be applied to natural lighting.

However, this book provides one of those major "ah ha" moments when it explains the family of angles. This basically explains why you sometimes get killer light in your photos and other times it is horrible because there is a solid theory that explains where the light source has to be in relationship to the camera and subject you are photographing. While this is some seriously advanced stuff, it is explained in a way that you can understand (assuming you didn't skip chapters) even if it may take you a while to actually master the theory into practice.

A word of caution though - this book is NOT for beginners because you already have enough to learn, so this book will be overwhelming. You need to have mastered the basics of your camera and understand concepts like aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and exposure to the point that you can apply them and their impact on each other without thinking about it. I also suggest that you have read books like The Digital Photography Book and Learning to See Creatively before you tackle this book.

Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced Value: Excellent Recommendation: Highly Recommended - After you've been through at least your first year of DSLR photography and mastered your camera, taken 10,000+ shots, and really understand the basics in practice, then you may be ready for this book. When you are, you'll have a light bulb go off in your head and will be on your way to taking better studio pictures.

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1 comment:

Cynthia M. Thayer said...

468I love this book, and recommend it to anyone who is interested in becoming one with light.