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Book Review: Better Available Light Digital Photography – Second Edition By Joe Farace & Barry Staver

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Have you ever tried to take photographs when the light was dim and the only thing that you seem to capture was a blur? If you have tried to photograph indoor events like weddings, graduations, holiday lights, or even outdoor events at dusk or later,then you have probably found it to be a difficult experience to capture what you actually saw.

Better Available Light Digital Photography was written to help you understand the many different lighting challenges that you may encounter when shooting in low light conditions. It will attempt to provide you with answers to questions about overcoming these shooting problems, and leave you better armed the next time that you are in a low light situation. Better Available Light Digital Photography is 240 pages in length and divided into 8 chapters.

Chapter 1, "What is Available Light?" begins with a description of what is called, "The Golden Hour." This is the time when the available light outside is truly extraordinary and, for a few minutes, can provide the difference between a photograph and a snapshot. In this chapter you will get a brief overview of the different types of lighting situations and how to understand the problems that exist.

Chapter 2, "Basic Exposure," is more important to digital than it is for color negative film, according to the authors, and so you really need to understand how to get a correct exposure if you want to capture the image you see. In this chapter you will look at images and learn to understand the complexities that you will need to work with while dealing with limited light. You will also look at the camera histogram and how to understand what it means as well as what high dynamic range photography entails.

Chapter 3, "Digital Noise: What it is and How to Deal With It," looks at an effect in your digital images what is the equivalent of grain on traditional film, and that is noise. In this chapter you will explore what noise is, where it comes from, and what you can do to reduce or eliminated it.

Chapter 4, "White Balance Techniques," examines the fact that light is different colors and that can affect the look of your images. These colors com from the different temperatures of light and those can give funny casts to your images. In this chapter you will learn how you can compensate for these casts which can make your images come out closer to what you imagined when you shot them.

Chapter 5, "Fast Lenses," are able to capture more light and therefore are better for low light shooting. The problem is, is that this fast glass also costs much more than a slower lens. Here you will look at the difference between zooms and prime lenses, image stabilization, and other lens features that will have you capturing better images in lower light situations.

Chapter 6, "Tripods and Other Camera Supports," can allow you to slow down the shutter speed, giving you the ability to let in more light without the nasty blur you would get if you were just holding the camera. Here you will look at tripods, monopods, heads, and alternate supports to keep your camera steady and the image clear.

Chapter 7, "Available Light Photography at Weddings," begins with examples of how traditional photographs were taken at weddings in the past and compares it to the new techniques of wedding photography. There has been a lot of change with the inception of the digital camera and this chapter examines what it might take to shoot a wedding from beginning through reception.

Chapter 8, "RAW-Image-File Capture," looks at what the advantages of working with RAW files over other formats by starting with what the difference between a RAW file and JPEG's, Here you will see the what the pro's and con's are and give you information on why you would want to use one over the other. There is also a discussion on what Adobe's digital negatives (DNG) are and where they fit into the equation of file formats.

While I don’t think that it goes deep enough for someone who is experienced in the fundamentals of available light shooting, I do think that Better Available Light Digital Photography is a good book for someone who is just getting into shooting in low light situations. would provide a good resource for someone coming from film and trying to learn the nuances of the digital medium with regard to available light as well.

Better Available Light Digital Photography contains many pictorial examples that are well documented with information and specifics of how the shot was captured. It provides a solid foundation in the relationship of low light shooting with a digital camera and lots of tidbits of practical information. If you are new to low light shooting and want to learn to shoot in available light then you should check out Better Available Light Digital Photography.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.