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A great introduction to the concept of lighting, and how to use, and manipulate the light to get your best shot.

Book Review: Photo Workshop – Lighting by Chris Bucher

Without light, there is no photography — perhaps not much else as well, but that is not the subject at hand. The subject at hand is light, and how light affects what we see, and what the camera sees. It is also the subject of the Photo Workshop release Photo Workshop: Lighting by Chris Bucher.

The goal of Lighting is to show how it is possible to create better photographs by using the available light no matter if it is great light, or not. This takes time, and testing, and practice, but the effort is worth the rewards. Once you are able to "see" better, you will better be able to work with light, and your photography will become second nature.
Lighting is 285 pages divided into 10 chapters.

Chapter 1, "Elements of Light," begins with just that, the elements of light, and how they are captured by the camera. This includes the elements of exposure, color temperature, white balance, contrast, and quality of light.

Chapter 2, "Understanding your Equipment's Role in Lighting," explores your camera, the metering system, the flash attachment, studio lighting, as well as other equipment such as tripods, cable releases, and lens hoods.

Chapter 3, "Working with Outdoor Natural Light," explains how to use a light meter to measure the different types of light — front, side, backlight. It talks about sunrise, and sunset light, and what the golden hour is. It even discusses how to use overcast light to get great images.

Chapter 4, "Working with Interior Light," now takes you indoors, and shows you how to set your exposures inside, and how to work with interior contrasts. You will learn how to work with the varieties of window light; direct and diffuse. You will see how to mix daylight with both strobes and interior lights; incandescent and florescent.

Chapter 5, "Lighting for Portraits and People," shows you how to work both outdoors and indoors by finding the best light, as well as taking the best light, and making it better. It also explains how to shoot candid shots, kids shots, environmental shots, and how to work with groups.

Chapter 6, "Action, Sports, Motion, Blur," brings out the speed. When shooting action, it is all about the shutter. Here you will learn how to stop motion, as well as how to slow down to show motion. You will also learn how to bring out the best in nature.

Chapter 7, "Lighting Scenarios in Landscape Photography" begins by explaining some terminology. Then it shows you how to time your shots whether it is before dawn, after dusk, or somewhere in between, it is all about light. You will also learn how to use filters, how to work with overcast days, as well as working in fog.

Chapter 8, "Dealing with Change: Travel and Adventure" shows you what you need to take with you when you are traveling, when you are shooting on the street, in museums, and other indoor sites, as well as preparing for various weather conditions.

Chapter 9, "Still Life and Macro Lighting" takes you up-close and personal to the principles of macro photography, and the principles of getting great light.

Chapter 10, "Mastering Night and Low Light Photography" explores the needs of low light photography; such as tripods, working with soft light, moody light, and low light. You will also learn about capturing motion of lights, as well as working with long exposures.

Photo Workshop: Lighting is a great introduction to the concept of lighting, and how to use and manipulate the light to get your best shot. Bucher does not go into the mathematical explanations of the relationship of shutter speed, ISO, and aperture, rather he shows examples, and more general relationships that will lead the user to better images.

Photo Workshop: Lighting also contains assignments that can be completed by the user, and the results posted to a website where they may, or may not, be critiqued. One thing that I absolutely love about this book is the "About this Photo" listing under each photograph used in the book. It explains the settings that were used, and the different considerations that went into making the photo.

There are notes and other comments spread throughout Photo Workshop: Lighting as well. If you want to get up to speed with the topic of lighting without a lot of mathematical formulas, then I think that Photo Workshop: Lighting is a great place to start.

About T. Michael Testi

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

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