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Though Mastering Canon EOS Flash Photography is focused on use of the Speedlite system, it is also a complete and authoritative guide to general flash photography.

Book Review: Mastering Canon EOS Flash Photography by NK Guy

The use of automated flash in digital photography has revolutionized the way   people take pictures today. What was first looked at as just a way to lighten dark spaces is now filled with many creative functions that can be both artistically as well a technically challenging.

The goal of Mastering Canon EOS Flash Photography is to be a comprehensive guide to the use of the Canon camera and the EOS flash system. Its path will take you from the Speedlite system, to off-camera flash, and into professional studio lighting. This book is 432 pages in length and is divided into 15 chapters which are further broken down into four parts.

Part A, "Getting Started," begins by looking at what a camera flash is and what it does. It starts off by working with a beginner's configuration of a Canon Rebel camera and a 430 EX flash unit and how it can be used. It illustrates some real basic elements like installing batteries and attaching it to the camera.

Next it moves into explaining flash exposure compensation (FEC), bounce flash, and fill flash. It then explores the more advanced configurations of a Canon EOS 50D with two 580EX II flash units. Here you will examine wireless flash, dragging the shutter, and getting the flash off the camera. You will also further your  terminology while learning certain aspects like reasons you don't want to use the pop up flash.

Part B, "Technology," starts off with a brief history of the flash and the challenges it overcomes. Then you will move on to automatic flash metering. Here you will explore topics like how to enable internal flash and external Speedlites, freezing motion, normal and slow shutter sync, and shooting in various modes like shutter priority and aperture priority.

There is a chapter that discusses technical topics where you will learn about the Canon EOS flash metering system including TTL, A-TTL, E-TTL, and E-TTL II. You will also explore how the mechanical camera shutters work, working with the first and second curtain sync, the inverse square law, exposure value (EV), infrared (IR), and colors and shades of white.

Part C, "Equipment," examines the type of equipment that is needed and/or useful for Canon flash photography. First you look at dedicated flash units, the Canon naming scheme, some of the older Canon units, and third party flashes.

Then the focus is on the Cannon Speedlites. You will learn in detail just about everything about the Speedlite including hot shoes, zooming, high-speed sync, wireless E-TTL, range warning, optical slave triggers, the rear control dial, weatherproofing, and much, much more.

Other chapters in this section cover manual flash metering in which you take total control of the flash, off camera flash where you will learn the seven basic methods for controlling flash, and all sorts of flash accessories such as flash diffusers, reflectors, filter gels, supports, ring-flash adapters, and even thoughts about making your own accessories. Finally, you will examine studio flash equipment.

Part D, "Technique," now takes all that you have learned about how to work your equipment and shows you how you should work with your equipment to create better photos. Here you will begin with working with lighting direction, multiple light sources, intensity, quality of light, softening light, building a studio, and experimenting with light.

Finally, the chapter on advanced techniques looks at working with slow shutter speed and motion to give special effects to your image. Here you will see that hard light is not always bad, focusing light can bring spectacular effects, how to work with back light, creating effects with stroboscopic flash, working with high-speed photography, cross polarizing techniques, and learning from the masters.

There is also a series of appendices that cover everything from choosing a flash unit based on the type of photography you are working with, a comprehensive features table of Canon cameras and flash capabilities, a listing of custom functions for the 430/580 EX flashes, a chart on the sequence of operation of the flash, troubleshooting guide, and more.

I have seen a lot of books that cover flash photography, but not one that is as complete and authoritative as Mastering Canon EOS Flash Photography especially with regard to the use and function of the flash. It is well written, extremely easy to understand and is filled with images that display what the author is describing.

Mastering Canon EOS Flash Photography is more focused on the use of the Speedlite system and getting the best results than on generic lighting technique, but still manages to devote a reasonable section to the techniques of lighting as well.

If you are a user of Canon Speedlites, and especially if you have been struggling to get the best out of them, then this is the book for you. It is very useful for novices on up to even professionals. I very highly recommend Mastering Canon EOS Flash Photography.

About T. Michael Testi

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

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