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on December 19, 2009
NOTE: I wrote this review from the perspective of someone who read the first book and then bought this book to learn new things. If you have never read the first book you might find this book more useful than I did. Depending on your level of expertise, however, you might want to buy the first book over this one. Complete beginners will find the first book easier to follow. That being said I find the quality of content and presentation in this book to exceed the first. Therefore, if you are more comfortable with lighting and or would like to take a deep plunge into lighting go with this one. Now for the review

This book is much better than the first book by the same author titled Master Lighting Guide. It offers a more in depth higher quality presentation of studio lighting. Hence, the author attempts to provide the reader with a solid understanding of studio lighting principles. The first section focuses on explaining, with plenty of pictures, the relationship between light physical size and relative size, distance, spread depth, and feathering.

The second section consists of 20 topics or so that put the principles stated above into practice. Some are very unique and new like the inverse relation between specularity and size of softbox or the nature of umbrellas and how they differ from softboxes. That last topic is a full departure from the previous book in which the author leaves the impression that both modifiers -softboxes and umbrellas- are very similar when in reality they are not. Another great topic is about how to position a light meter for proper reading. That topic can eliminate much frustration with aiming light meters.

There are other section that seem to have been pretty much lifted from the previous book like the simulated sunlight topic which offers nothing more than one new but minor technique. A couple other topics don't add much like the topic about Why Strip Lights are so Cool which sounds very cool until you read it and realize that it pretty much adds nothing more than few extra pages to the book.

I think the book is very good, but very short and in a sense comes across as an incomplete work. I can't say the same about the first book which I felt was the opposite, complete in the range of topics but poor in quality of material. I still bought the first book anyway because it was the only available reference at the time. Given this book is short and covers many similar topics, but in a better way, I wonder why the author did not consider adding the new content of this book to the first book in a revised and expanded edition instead of a new book. That would have created a complete and excellent quality book that has no match on the market today.

I recommend the book to advanced amateurs and new professionals but I also recommended checking it in a bookstore first because some might not find it very valuable. It's just not one of those books that you can give full 5 stars and a blind buy it right away recommendation.

One last note: the author refers to softboxes sizes as 4x6 large, 3x4 medium, and 2x3 small. This designation might be confusing for people when they go to buy softboxes based on his recommendation. Many major softboxes manufacturers including Creative Light and Photoflex label 4x6 extra large, 3x4 large, and 2x3 medium. Chimera on the other hand goes by the same designations the author is using.
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VINE VOICEon October 6, 2009
Here's an excellent book aimed at a very narrow segment of the photography market. It should be of interest primarily to studio portrait photographers who use strobes, although there may be other applications for which it might be useful.

Grey covers a number of lighting techniques that are beyond the basics, like shaping the background light, or using an incident light meter, or feathering a light, or using a beam splitter. These techniques will be of interest to people already comfortable with photographing with studio lights, but will be of little help to novices. Each chapter is almost like a tip in a tip book, except that rather then tell you what to do without providing understanding, the author explores each subject in great detail. For example, in discussing the use of a hair light he presents several different sources, like large and small softboxes and strip softboxes, illustrates the application and effect of each, and even shows the difference in effect with slight changes in the direction in which the model faces. There are plenty of subtly varying images and every technique is supported by lighting diagrams.

Because this is such a fine-tuned book, I feel compelled to tell you the things it does not cover. There is no explanation of the basic lighting set-up of main, fill, hair and background light (in fact Grey doesn't even use traditional fill lights); no discussion of equipment, either cameras or lights, other than some light modifiers which the author has constructed; and no discussion of exposure, except to the extent that modifying exposures when using some of his techniques will change the effect. The lighting is limited to strobes, so if you use speedlights or hot lights, you will have to convert the author's advice. On the other hand people interested in product photography that has an artier twist, or even fine art still life images, can probably get something from this book.

Given all of that, if you fit into the niche, this will be an excellent book for you. Grey emphasis that the photography business is very competitive and that, in order to be successful, the portrait photographer has to come up with a look that is different. The differences he creates are often subtle but they may open new doors for the appropriate reader.
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on January 23, 2010
As a classroom instructor of photography for twenty years, I appreciate the basic info that Chris Grey has compiled in his two lighting guides. This studio guide was a natural addition to my classroom required reading and reference book collection. Customers should consider his first book "Master Lighting Guide for Portrait Photographers" as "part 1" of this collection.
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on March 9, 2011
This supplements his first book quite nicely. I have recently taken it upon myself to learn to use my lighting equipment properly. This was one area in which I was never trained. He writes this book assuming you know something about exposure and metering. It moves quickly, beats no subjects into the ground, and covers all the basics with excellent picture references. I highly recommend it! Now, where'd I put my light meter....
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on October 21, 2009
This book is the perfect companion to Grey's book Master Lighting Guide. All of the same features that made his previous book such a delight are here: tons of lighting diagrams, tons of set-up shots, progression shots, very beautiful pictures, and lots of great examples for utilizing all the various techniques presented. There is a real depth-of-knowledge in Grey's writing that comes across in this book. I really couldn't give this a higher recommendation if you are looking to not only understand lighting but really control it and how it can radically change the quality of your photography. Wonderful stuff!
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on August 3, 2014
Book seems to be out of print, and to save $$$, I bought the kindle version, big mistake!!! The info is priceless!! I've bought all his books, as well as Kirk tuck's books. Hidden amongst all their incredible amount of info, are incredible gems, much that is difficult to follow with a kindle. Murphy's law is that image and the accompanying info. Is never on the same screen.

I'm an animal photog, and, at times, have to reinterpret the info for fur and different shaped bodies, but light is light!! ....and both authors are master at using it!! Plus they have ideas for buying and building light modifiers at Costco, Home Depot, etc...o.k. With me as I occasionally have hyper dogs on the studio and want my studio doggy-proof. The few times I have a human in the studio, a quick review of this or any of Grey or Tuck's books the night before is invaluable. A lot of work, testing goes into these books, thanks!!!
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on December 1, 2009
My good friend Chris Grey has done it again. His Studio Lighting Techniques For Photography: Tricks of the Trade for Professional Digital Photographers is nothing short of spectacular. My favorite quote from the book found on page 5 sets the tone for the book: "Failure is a wonderful reference." Don't be afraid to play and learn. That's what it is all about! The book is not designed as a basic introduction to lighting--he already wrote that one, but it does begin with a quick overview of some critically important concepts to get you going. In fact, the beauty of this book is, in fact, that it is not an introductory volume, so he is able to very effectively spend time on parts of your lighting that are usually given short attention in books with a more global approach. Chris spends good deal of time discussing auxiliary lights such as hair and background lights. He also spends a good amount of time discussing depth of light concepts and why they are so important (Chris is the one who got me to finally understand that idea!)

Chris' sheer mastery of light shines through, but what I found fascinating is that he remains a voracious student of light! Most of the chapters are discussions of things he discovered by playing, failing, playing some more, succeeding and repeating the process again and again. We are privy to the results of a Master at Play! This is an important idea: At no point does he say that his creations are "the end all." Rather, he repeatedly urges you to take his ideas and modify them to create you own interpretations.

One area that Chris does consistently emphasize, however, is the absolute need for exposure control. He shows you, step by step, how to check the calibration of your light meter against your camera. That's right...light meter! There is no using your LCD screen to check exposure here! He also details what (I agree) is the proper way to meter a set for dead on accuracy (and then, characteristically, he shows you when to break those same rules!). Chris effectively states that you can forgo shooting RAW in favor of jpegs by using these techniques. The whole RAW vs jpeg debate is an ongoing discussion and with all due respect, I fall on the other side of the fence from my trusted colleague. Chris' comments that RAW conversion can be time consuming is accurate in many situations. However, the conversion will be as simple as clicking a button or running a batch conversion while you sleep IF you follow the techniques described. The choice, given the system that Chris describes, is truly up to you.

There are way too many pearls in this book to describe in detail, but one of them is his chart showing the side by side comparison between the metered f-stop value and the corresponding aperture value on the camera. That alone is worth the price of admission!

Get this book...get some ideas...then go play with them and make them your own. As my buddy might say "this is fun...enjoy the ride!"
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on February 18, 2014
As someone who has been intimidated by this subject and taken refuge in the mantra 'available light is always best' this book was a revelation. I realised recently that most of the portraits I really like had usually employed some type of strobe lighting in a very subtle manner. This book has given me the insight into the techniques that might hopefully elevate my work to a new level.
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on June 1, 2010
I really like this book. Even though I'm pretty well versed in portrait lighting I always buy Chris's books because learning one or two more tricks is worth a bunch more than the cover price. And this book is no exception. For the person who wants to compete in the portrait market this is a valuable resource and one I would buy before the next lens or camera body. He knows his stuff, the illustrations are great and the tone of the book is easy going and easy to understand. My only slight criticism is that the title should make clear that the book is really aimed at Portrait photographers and not at general commercial photography. He is resolutely a people shooter and it shows in his easy rapport with the subjects and his total control of the lighting. I recommend this book to most of my assistants.
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on March 13, 2013
I'm an amateur Photographer and I've shot Boudoir and Nude extensively for the last two years.
I've reached the point where if I want to improve I have to go back to study and learn from the top.

This book is a great: I really loved the way Grey breakes down his light setups focusing the reader attentions on details I was not aware before. It's not a beginner book, but it's a great reference to take a step onward in your Lighting Techniques

I'm not just Reading this Book; I'm using it as a constant reference: worth every penny!
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