Saturday, 22 June 2013

Photographic Lighting: Reading material

There are a huge number of books dedicated to this subject and I just don't know where the market is! I had acquired a couple of such books many years ago, and though they might be outdated and the poses / dress might not be particularly fashionable, they do provide some sound information regarding basic lighting setups which are equally applicable whether you use tungsten, studio flash or portable flash such as Speedlites.  In my case, I use Speedlites.

The first book I wish to refer to is "How to control & use Photographic Lighting" by David Brooks.  My copy from the early 1980's was published by HP Books, and searching for the title revealed that it was updated in 1989.

The early chapters discuss the effects of the light source and the light direction and reflection.  Very relevant and helpful for this part of the TAOP module as it supplements and enlarges on the course text.  The description is clear and helpfully illustrated.  The chapter relating to equipment is very dated, and whilst principles are fine, its probably best ignored as far more information can be obtained from other sources.  There is an extensive chapter on photographing people.  This I find a very useful starting point for a variety of lighting situations and complexities including natural, window, light.  All are well illustrated with lighting diagrams and resulting images.  The final chapter discusses lighting for "things".  Again well illustrated and extremely useful as a starting point.  Shooting glass and shiny objects are both subjects which are well dealt with.  Overall a useful book which can be acquired quite cheaply.

My next book is "50 Portrait lighting techniques for pictures that sell" by John Hart published by Amphoto.

Again my copy is from from 1983, but it was updated in 1995 and that copy is available from Amazon for £0.01 used.  That would be a tremendous buy.  This is clearly outdated, but as with the previous book, it is a good starting point for "50" different lighting setups which are well discussed and illustrated, both with photos and lighting diagrams.  There is nothing, here, though, which hasn't really been covered by the previous tome.  The message is, that a well executed and lit portrait will succeed in its aim.

At a photo exhibition a few years ago, I succumbed to obtaining "Portrait Photography Secrets of Posing & Lighting" by Mark Cleghorn and published by Lark Books.  I had just been watching him demonstrating various lighting techniques and the book was on special offer :-).  Mark Cleghorn is a Fellow of RPS and has many other distinctions and awards.  He certainly knows his stuff as I saw from his demonstrations.  The book runs through many styles and techniques and will provide the basic knowledge and inspiration to get going with taking portraits.

Studio work is something which I am interested in, particularly as the lighting is under your control, so the challenge is really how to use it in a creative way.

Alongside the books above there are the technical manuals which come with the kit.  In my case the Speedlites 580EX and 430EX II and the Nissin Di866 II.  It is definitely worth reading these if for no other reason than to become familiar with the controls.

What I have found is that, other than to become familiar with the subject, there is no substitute for practice.

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