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Book Review: Strobist Photo Trade Secrets Vol. 1: Expert Lighting Techniques by Zeke Kamm

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Strobist Photo Trade Secrets is a new series of books from Peachpit Press that focus on lighting techniques. Expert Lighting Techniques is the first volume and it contains a wide variety of lighting situations you can learn how to light like the pros.

Expert Lighting Techniques is a book that is based on the lighting techniques displayed on David Hobby’s famed Strobist website. It will show you how to light your photographs creatively using small flashes and accessories. The book is small enough to throw in your camera bag and is 30 pages in length.

Each page of the main part of the book consists of a postcard size card with a picture displaying the technique on the front side and a description of the shot on the backside of the card. Also included on the back is a diagram showing how the shot was set up and what kind of equipment was used to get the shot.

The cards are perforated so that you can tear them out and take them with you in to the field. The front has a glossy appearance and the back more of a fiber feel for note-taking if needed.

In Expert Lighting Techniques there are 24 separate recipes for completely different lighting situations. While most use one to two off camera flashes, other devices are used as well. Things from shop lights, to florescent lights, flash lights, and daylight. Accessories include soft boxes, snoots, grids, and reflectors.

Each recipe is the work of a different strobist and, as suspected, the techniques are just as different. Some of the lighting situations include lighting an Austin Martin, a girl in the woods with floating feathers, a couple of different portrait styles, a carrot floating over a plate, a couple of stock like shots of food and a real cool looking paperclip in a wind tunnel shot.

This is not a book for someone who doesn’t know how to use an off camera flash, is not familiar with flash accessories and other lighting theories. It is for those who have a fundamental grasp of the technology and now wants to learn how to set up shots like the pros do. I really like the idea of this kind of book. It is simple, provides enough information to get out there and shoot. If you always wanted get some of the images like the pros, but were unsure how to set them up, then I very highly recommend Strobist Photo Trade Secrets Vol. 1: Expert Lighting Techniques.

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About T. Michael Testi

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