Books to read about lighting?

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by pierods, Mar 21, 2012.

  1. pierods

    pierods Member

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    What books must absolutely be read about lighting?

    I shoot b/w, and I need to learn about the absolute basics: types of light, effects of lights on faces, types of faces that go with certain lights etc.

    thanks!
     
  2. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Not a book but good info. http://www.paulcbuff.com/sfe.php

    When I was learning how I looked around at various sources of pictures, when I found one I liked I would figure out from the shadows, glow, and catchlights where the lights were placed to get that photo and then try to emulate it.

    In this process a good flash meter is really important with studio strobes so that you can measure the difference between the various lights in play.

    After a bit of practice I started to see the tell tale signs automatically. Catch lights are a dead giveaway as are shadows on a face going one way and in the background going another.

    For a book try The Hot Shoe Diaries. http://www.amazon.com/Hot-Shoe-Diaries-Light-Flashes/dp/0321580141 it's Nikon centric but the principles are good and applicable with most.
     
  3. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Hunter, Biver, Fuqua, Light--Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting is comprehensive and a classic.
     
  4. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Member

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  5. Two23

    Two23 Member

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    The classic text is "Light: Science & Magic." Very complete reference.



    Kent in SD
     
  6. Dan Quan

    Dan Quan Subscriber

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  7. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    This is an excellent recommendation. Start with this one if you can. You may well not need anything else.
     
  8. Dan Quan

    Dan Quan Subscriber

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    au contraire mon frere

    that would be akin to a med student reading ONLY Gray's Anatomy. :smile:
     
  9. mrred

    mrred Subscriber

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    Try over at PhotoCamel. They have an excellent section on lighting with great moderators and examples. Who needs a book with that ref online.
     
  10. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    Masters of Light
     
  11. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    I'd agree with Brad, and compare it to basic courses in biology and chemistry for a pre-med student.

    Lee
     
  12. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    Whatever it is, it's now on hold for me at my local library. Many thanks to all of you who are so freely willing to educate the ignorant.
     
  13. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    The local library is always a good place to start. Nice that they have the book.

    Let us know when you pass the boards. Hope lighting malpractice insurance is cheap in CO.:whistling:

    Lee
     
  14. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Edition preference? - Light, Science and Magic

    Can anyone here comment about the relative value of the various editions of "Light, Science and Magic"?

    I've considered buying a less expensive but older used version (1997 vs. 2007).

    I don't really care about any specific equipment references that may be contained in the book, so any information of that type that has become doesn't concern me.
     
  15. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    Oh-oh. Is licensure required?

    I avoided the use of flash for 25 years because my first attempts at it were so pitiful, and so remained blissfully ignorant of anything beyond available light. Then last year I discovered that the Minolta X outfit I got from my father-in-law's estate included a pretty hi quality flash and that there was such a thing as ttl metering! So I went to a party, set the exposure on automatic, let the camera tell the flash what to do, and results were fabulous.

    Now I have grand-nephews and nieces, my sister's cancer has turned the wrong direction, and our first grandchild will arrive later this year. I see the awful pictures that my extended family finds acceptable for passing around on the web. I compare them with the tack-sharp 6x9 contact prints of my uncle and aunt who died in childhood in 1918 and feel a need to do something about it. That little bit of success with on-camera flash makes me want to learn to use multiple-source setups with my 6x6 to produce photos that will hopefully be enjoyed 100 years from now.
     
  16. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    Heck, since you're shooting film your probably better off with the older book, anyhow.
     
  17. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    I have both the 2nd and 3rd editions. The 3rd edition has color illustrations rather than B&W, and a third author is added. The preface says that was designed to give it a fresher look. The chapter on Extremes has specifics on lighting to make sure the shadows and highlights fall within the response of digital sensors, but that's really the same information just adapted to the sensor's response curve.

    The book is really all about principles, and how light works, taking into account different kinds of objects, reflections, angles, revealing shapes, surfaces, contours, etc. There are whole sections on lighting transparent objects, metals and reflective surfaces, portraits, etc. It's not a cookbook, but if you learn what's in the book, you shouldn't need cookbook "place your lights here, here, and here" to get what you want instructions, your results will be more predictable, and you'll be able to work with whatever you have at hand.

    Any edition should be good, as light still behaves the same way as before digital photography, and there's little to nothing about specific lighting equipment.

    Here are some good used prices for all three editions:

    http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?an=hunter&sts=t&tn=light+science+and+magic&x=0&y=0

    Lee
     
  18. achromat

    achromat Member

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    I've read a lot of lighting books over the years. What I've found most rewarding is to study photographs that I really liked and to figure out how they were lit. looking at shadows and the quality of the light will get you going. I spend a lot of time studying Penn's work - both portrait and comercial.

    I take my info and try to reproduce the lighting. Trial and error has taught me a lot.

    Hope this helps.
     
  19. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Thanks Lee, this definitely helps.
     
  20. DrTang

    DrTang Member

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    the one by the Larson lighting guy

    and the one by Arriflex are very helpful and have diagrams and examples
     
  21. jjphoto

    jjphoto Member

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    Books are great for teach you the basics so if you are not even at a 'basic' level then they are a great way to start. At some point the best way to learn is to try to emulate the images that you LOVE. Ultimately there are thousands of different subjects and situations and no book will teach you to be expert in each.

    However, like Disco, books are dead. Go to blurtube for specific examples as every man and his dog wants his/her 5 minutes of fame (reduced from 15min in this digital era) so there are thousands of lighting examples online.

    JJ
     
  22. amilne

    amilne Member

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    The book of life.

    Jk. In my experience lighting is the most difficult thing to learn from a book. Though it can't hurt.
     
  23. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

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    Christopher Grey, "Master Lighting Guide for Portrait Photographers" (recommended by Kirk Tuck of VSL). Straightforward explanations with setup diagrams and images demonstrating the variations. A handy guide.