Monday, 11 May 2009

Lighting By David Prakel.

Part of the Basics Photography series of books, Lighting is much more and at the same time much less than I was expecting. This book really attempts to cover absolutely everything to do with lighting, starting with a very comprehensive section on colour theory which really does cover pretty much everything to do with colour, even using colour filters for black and white photography. The book then goes on to discuss exposure.

The section on exposure skimps on the relationship between shutter and aperture, which is presented as a table with exposure values. Later on the book talks about reducing exposure by a stop or increasing by a stop but doesn't explicitly say that doubling the shutter speed will increase by a stop. The information is there in tabular form, but it isn't very friendly for someone unfamiliar with the mechanics of shutter and aperture. For my money it wasn't a great explanation of exposure.

There is a very good section on metering which covers all kinds of metering including using your hand as a meter and adjusting for skin tone. There is also a section on contrast and subject brightness range which is very useful. Including a diagram on how to control subject contrast with lighting ratios.

There lots of great information on controlling light with filters, graduates and polarisers and also on IR and UV light. The book goes on to discuss natural light lots of information about time of day, and seasonal light, but doesn't really touch on direction much.

The section on photographic lighting, covers continuous and flash lighting and describes different types of lights even including chemical flashbulbs. There are some good lighting recipes in there and a some good instruction on direction of lighting, but it low on the theory that enables problem solving.

The final chapter is on techniques like painting with light, using a flatbed scanner as a capture device and even shadowgrams and photograms.

Its an ambitious book, which contains a lot more than I would have expected from it, but the enormous breadth is at the expense of the depth that would have made this a great resource. Sure there is a lot of information to be gained from this book especially if you are a beginner. Learning the vocabulary and having a full picture of what is possible might enable you to target your education or send you off in directions that you hadn't imagined before.

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