Creative Lighting: Digital Photography Tips and Techniques Paperback – Mar 15 2011
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From the Back Cover
One of a photographer's most essential skills is the ability to accurately and creatively observe light. Creative Lighting: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques explains the impact of light whether you are using natural light when photographing landscapes, or using strobes and soft boxes in the studio.
From observation comes the ability to manipulate. You'll learn how to use exposure settings that have the most impact on lighting, and the best ways to take advantage ofand enhanceexisting light in the field. You'll also find out how to plan photography around natural lighting from the cycle of days and seasons, and discover the best techniques for rendering light in motion from car headlights and other moving objects.
Moving indoors, Creative Lighting shows you how to take advantage of ambient light, and use continuous lighting and strobes to make the most powerful images possible.
Richly illustrated with Harold Davis's beautiful images, Creative Lighting explores exposure and how to effectively use many kinds of lighting, as well as creating and using shadows and reflectivity. Then it takes you into the digital darkroom where you'll find out how to enhance lighting effects with Adobe Photoshop.
The technical details are here, too: for each photo in this book you'll find the focal length of the lens used, aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and the back story behind the image.
Learn to "see" light and its impact on photos
Use natural light to make spectacular images
Plan your photos around light and lighting
Use exposure controls to enhance lighting
Explore chiaroscuro, shadow, high-key and low-key lighting
Enhance lighting with multi-RAW and HDR processing
About the Author
Harold Davis is an award-winning professional photographer. He is the author of more than 30 books, including Creative Portraits: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques, Creative Black & White: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques, and Creative Night: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques. Harold writes the popular Photoblog 2.0, www.photoblog2.com.
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Top Customer Reviews
"Creative Lighting" covers the basics of lighting and learning to take your initial shot properlly then gradually jumps into more photoshop based elements that seem very fun to play with.
Overall good book and a great gift for the holidays or a birthday.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
By Harold Davis
Regardless of your photographic genre, this book contains valuable ideas to help use and utilze light creatively. The author breaks down many different lighting situations a photographer may encounter. Each section stands on its own, so one does not have to read the entire book to benefit from it. That also makes it very easy to use this book for later reference and review. A quick view of the table of contents demonstrates the full depth of the book. Major sections include "Seeing the light", Exposure and Lighting", "Working with Ambient Light", "Lighting in the Studio", and "Lighting in the Digital Darkroom". Each section is further subdivided into many topics, all providing a well-written, easy-to-read discussion of each topic.
Have you ever looked at an image and wondered how did the photographer capture it? If so, then you'll enjoy this book and keep it close in your library. Each section presents a wealth of information. The author identifies a given lighting situation and then explains how to handle it within the discussion. I read with a highlighter and found myself highlighting key points frequently.
The strength of this book lies in the extensive use of Mr. Davis' photography to illustrate specific discussion points. Each image is carefully captioned. The author explains why the photo demonstrates the topic at hand, where the image was taken, and what lighting situation he encountered. Mr. Davis also shares with the reader his camera settings for each image (focal distance, shutter, aperture and ISO setting, tripod or handheld). Additionally, he readily tells the reader if he the final image is a result of one shot or many shots stacked in Photoshop. In the `Lighting in the Digital Darkroom" section, Mr. Davis shares with the reader his specific techniques with Photoshop, further explaining why he chose to stack some images and not others.
I always feel that if I get one good idea from a book, then the investment in the book has paid off. This book easily surpasses this threshold. Although I am a landscape photographer shooting mostly with ambient light, I found all sections most informative and came away with many new ideas I plan on employing.
If you are looking for a book that can provide many ideas for creative lighting, this book should be in your library. While it may not be the only book you have on lighting, it may be the one you reach for most often. ('Full disclosure' statement. I was selected to review this book following publication and was provided a copy to review).
Creative Lighting: Digital Photography Tips and Techniques is the latest of the latter series of books. Creative Lighting's mission and goals are to allow photographers to take better pictures by taking advantage of, and in some cases, manipulating the light available for photographs. While a small section at the end explores how to use Photoshop to work with High Dynamic Range photography and other effects, Davis keeps the bulk of the book grounded for dealing with and creating situations in the field and in the studio.
Within each of the major sections of the book, Davis has a wide assortment of topics, usually only a couple of pages long, with one or more photographs to illustrate the technique or subtopic. The photographs are a strong point of the book. The sheer variety of the photographs in the book used to illustrate various ideas in lighting is absolutely amazing. From an underexposed model, to a high-key flower, from a simple picture of San Francisco, to a grand HDR panorama of the California mountains put together with Photoshop, Davis' photography takes center stage.
With these beautiful photographs, Davis provides full information on the the lens and settings, and usually explains what he was trying to do with a particular photograph. In this way, Davis allows the reader-photographer an entrée into his mind and thought patterns. He often tells us what the light is doing, and how he is trying to make best use of it.
Those strong thought patterns I just mentioned dominate the book. Readers who have read Davis' work before are aware of it, but new readers to his books might be surprised by Davis' strong point of view. He has his likes, his biases and he is not shy about expressing them to readers. He is a strong believer, for instance, in photographers sticking to manual mode whenever possible. Many of the photos show his opinions and point of view as well.
While the ambient and natural lighting portions of the book are well done and well written, the real value of the book comes when Davis brings the readers into his studio, or enhances the natural lighting of a scene with fill lighting and other techniques. The book is replete with diagrams of his set ups that correspond to a nearby picture in the book that uses that particular scenario. As someone who has never taken a photograph with anything fancier than a camera's flash, I was fascinated to finally be able to understand how to use some additional tools and techniques to change, adapt and increase the lighting of a subject.
There are a few minor shortcomings in the book, but not many. I was surprised, for instance, that while he discusses the classic exposure triangle of Aperture, ISO and Shutter Speed, for instance, he never actually lays out the diagram. While I am not a visual learner, I felt that the diagram is practically expected in books that cover the exposure triangle. Also, the breakneck pace of topics, rarely lingering on them for more than a couple of pages, might turn off some readers. The ordering of some of the early sections, too, could have been changed. A few times, I found that I needed to jump forward a bit to understand an aspect of a topic before returning to the main flow of the topic.
Overall, this book seems to be targeting post-beginners to digital photography, people who have been using their DSLR for a while, and are seeking to improve their game with using light to best effect. I think the book hits its mark. True experts in the field may only find value in the considerable inspiration that Davis' photos bring, and complete neophytes are going to trip themselves up on Davis' assumption that readers know the basics of the craft. However, for people in between who are looking to learn more about how to use lighting in their photographs, I recommend this book unreservedly. Fans and avid readers of Mr. Davis' other works will find much to like here, as well.
"Creative Lighting" is not just about flash, softboxes and the like. It is about understanding light in all its permeations, the complete spectrum from natural available light to sophisticated illumination set-ups. For a photographer, it is critical that you understand the quality of light. Photography's prime ingredient is light. Quality of light is influence by brightness, temperature, distance, angle, time, duration, reflection, reflective surface behavior and size of the light source. This is a smart, practical text presented in a very approachable format. Understanding the weight of highlights and shadows in influencing the appeal of an image is critical for a photographer. As Davis points out that although it is subjective, "good lighting is the key to good images, great images."
The book is set up into five distinct sections: Seeing the Light; Exposure and Lighting; Working with Ambient Light; Lighting in the Studio; and, Lighting in the Digital Darkroom. This contributes to the utilitarian nature of the book that serves as a handy resource to return to when questions arise. In addition, each topic is illustrated by excellent images that demonstrate the technique or concept being explained.
What I like most is that the subjects explained and demonstrated are real world situations. This is not a book extolling how extraordinary images were created with a multiple light sources enhanced by a troupe of assistants. The text gives you the tools to understand and visualize an image then move ahead to create using resources commonly available to most photographers.
Light is the language of photography and this fine book will help you become fluent in understanding, interpreting and expressing your unique vision.
As in all of the books in this series, Harold Davis provides beautiful and well thought out illustrations of the concepts, along with his thinking and technical details behind each photo. These descriptions are often as informative as the main text. For example, one of the illustrations has inspired me to try to use my 5-in-1 reflector kit that has been collecting dust in the corner. Another one talks about using a polarizer during the Golden Hours, which was a new idea for me.
Overall, this book has a lot to offer all types of photographers, and has certainly had an impact on how I think about the lighting conditions and the image I want to capture.
".... this book is about creative lighting, not boring old product photography .... who needs another toaster oven or a perfect fork or spoon," not that there is anything wrong with that. In fact you could learn to take remarkable product photographs, and a huge range of photographs of other subjects of your choice using the techniques described by Harold in this new, very informative and very readable book.
At the beginning Harold identifies his hopes that this book will become a "guide by providing inspiration, ideas and techniques ... to create photos that are masterfully lit" by teaching us to observe, interpret and experiment creatively with light. And in fact in my case this book has already lived up to that hope. While I was becoming familiar with the book my wife asked me if I could provide her with a particular photograph of a white flower. As it happened I had just read about Close-Ups and Macros and it being Spring I went out and experimented - she was delighted with the result and now wants more.
Harold teaches about the importance of light by employing a wide range of examples including landscapes, cityscapes, architecture, products, portraits, still life and abstract subjects using pictures shot outdoors, indoors and at night. In each case he describes in considerable detail not just the what, when, where and how but just as importantly - the illusive why - the creative potential he saw in that subject, in that setting, with that lighting, that inspired him take that particular picture. He interlaces this almost seamlessly with the obligatory discussion of exposure describing the interplay of aperture, shutter speed, ISO, histograms and the lenses he used. And he completes his presentation with a brief but informative description of the digital post-processing techniques he uses to create the desired effect he visualized.
This is a lot of moving parts and it is up to each of us to figure out how far we want to take our learning, experimentation and creativity with digital photography. In this book Harold has provided me with a very valuable companion which is enabling me to develop a level of comfort that I too can apply the lessons I select to my subjects.
At the end of the day Harold kept my attention on the inescapable fact that it is not just about hardware, software and technique but that it is also about the quality of light as a critical component of composition that makes or breaks a photograph.
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