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Kevin Kubotas Lighting Notebook: 101 Lighting Styles and Setups for Digital Photographers [Paperback]

by Kevin Kubota
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 20, 2011 1118035100 978-1118035108 1
Get professional advice from one of the world's top wedding photographersCreative use of lighting is a hallmark of quality photography. Kevin Kubota has been listed among the world's top 10 wedding photographers by American Photo magazine and named a Legend Behind the Lens by Nikon. This guide features dozens of his unique lighting and post-production recipes and techniques, each illustrated with a spectacular image.
  • Author Kevin Kubota enjoys a cult-like following among professional photographers and has earned numerous accolades for his talent
  • Includes the author's unique lighting and post-production recipes and techniques that reinforce the theory that good lighting is the key to quality photography
  • Presents a number of shooting scenarios with behind-the-scenes setup, a description of the photographer's objective, the equipment used, and the resulting image for each
  • Features a companion app that will enable the photographer to search and find lighting suggestions by subject, style, budget, equipment, and other guidelines, all while in the field

Kevin Kubota's Lighting Notebook for Digital Photographers is almost like having the famous photographer sharing his secrets with you one on one.

Frequently Bought Together

Kevin Kubotas Lighting Notebook: 101 Lighting Styles and Setups for Digital Photographers + Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It: Learn Step by Step How to Go from Empty Studio to Finished Image (Voices That Matter) + Picture Perfect Practice: A Self-Training Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Taking World-Class Photographs (Voices That Matter)
Price for all three: $81.90

Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews Review

From the Author: The Lighting Notebook Unplugged
You’ve found the secret pages; raw and uncut notes–previously un-published and un-discovered. Yes, that’s a lot of un’s. The Lighting Notebook only had room for 101 scenes, so something had to be saved for later–and now is later.

The Lighting Notebook: 101 Lighting Styles and Setups for Digital Photographers is full of fresh, en-lightening content–from the history of lighting styles to essential post-processing techniques. In addition to this tasty educational extravaganza, we’ve included 101 different images, with corresponding background information, setup photos, diagrams, and equipment details.

Below, you’ll see examples of the raw material used to create the Lighting Notebook–all the good stuff, but without the eye-candy book design. It’s just a small taste of what’s to come in the complete book. I hope you enjoy it!

Kevin Kubota

From the Author: Photos Case Studies

I Want Candy!
(Click for case study)
Rock Band
(Click for case study)
Not Your Mother’s Wedding Portrait
(Click for case study)


'Kevin Kubota's manual is essential reading for anyone looking to better their use of light. An excellent buy' . Advanced Photographer, December 2011

Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (September 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118035100
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118035108
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,659 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kevin Kubota, of Kubota PhotoDesign Inc., has been photographing since 1980, and doing it professionally since 1990. He is a wedding and portrait photographer with images that speak to the heart - filled with emotion, joy, intimacy, and impact. His studio photographs high-end clients in his home base in Central Oregon and nationwide.

Kevin Kubota has previously been named one of the "Top 10 Wedding Photographers in the World" by American Photo Magazine. His wedding, portrait and commercial photography Web site is

His wedding and portrait work has been featured in magazines such as Rangefinder, Studio Photography & Design, Popular Photography, and Shutterbug, as well as in photography books such as, The Best of Portrait Photography and The Best of Wedding Photojournalism by Bill Hurter, and others. His images have been featured in Nikon advertisements, calendars, trade show displays, and he was selected as the Nikon "Legend Behind the Lens" #2 on the Nikon website.

Kubota Image Tools grew from the digital experience of Kevin who began pioneering the field of completely digital wedding photography in the 1990s. As one of the first photographers to master digital imaging, Kevin became inspired to share his experience and natural teaching ability with other photographers. He has successfully trained thousands of photographers to make the digital transition and continuously empowers existing digital photographers with new, effective workflow ideas and outstanding Photoshop® techniques.

Wiley Publishing will begin sending copies of his newest book: Kevin Kubota's Lighting Notebook: 101 Lighting Styles and Setups for Digital Photographers™, to bookstores across the country during the Fall of 2011. This complete book will provide details for how Kevin used and controlled light to capture a wide range of stunning photographs, with each picture brought to life under a different type of lighting environment. Using his experience from over 20 years as a photographer, each photo will include:
* an overhead diagram showing the locations of the photographer, subject, and each piece of lighting equipment used
* a complete list of lighting equipment used, including brand and model info
* a step-by-step summary of what Kevin encountered that led to his chosen lighting setup

Along with the release of the Lighting Notebook is the companion iPhone® and iPad® App. The interactive App will provide a convenient, portable resource for your lighting questions. Featuring hands-on tutorials with lighting diagrams, sample images, and "How It's Done" videos, the Lighting Notebook App is nothing short of a pro lighting workshop on-the-go. For more information on the Lighting Notebook app, please visit:

Rarely does the photo industry see an educator with an equal balance of recognized artistry, technical expertise, gifted teaching ability, and the energy to inspire and motivate other photographers to push themselves to completely new levels of vision and success.


Andrea Walker, PR, Kubota Photo Design, Inc.
(877) 330-4330 ext. 723

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
105 of 118 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Buyer Beware! November 26, 2011
By wdwpsu
I'm surprised with all of these 5 star reviews that there isn't one negative review. While this book is great at showing off lighting techniques (And why I gave it 2 instead of 1 star)... This book is also a giant ad for Kubota actions. Buying Kevin Kubota's dashboard, lightroom presets, and photoshop actions (also available at his website) end up costing you hundreds of additional hours to achieve the look of the images in this book.

So, if you already are waist deep in Kubota's tools, fantastic, buy this book. You'll soar.

If you are new to photography, or just looking for an affordable path to make your photos better, I'd avoid this.. As, you are being led down a very expensive path from the author.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent book with some interesting ideas July 13, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book twice - first time as a gift for a friend of mine who helped me with photography when I was starting and recently again to show some of my colleagues from photo business how to make a decent studio setups with little effort.

I like this book as it is very descriptive and has a lot of info about used equipment for specific shoots. I'm however a bit confused about its particular targeted crowd - new photogs will probably have problems finding exactly same equipment to use (SB-800 anyone?) and older, more experience photogs will already have their own stuff, probably of different brand and/or type and they generally know most of these setups. I took one star for that one - I know it is an older edition, but still.

Still, there are some really cool samples and ideas within this book so I guess $20 isn't much for it, especially since a decent lens is most likely 100x more expensive anyway...

I removed a second star due to annoying and really cheap way that Mr. Kubota promotes his product throughout the whole book. Pretty much ANY photo he took he sent through Photoshop and used some of his filters (which he, of course, would be more than happy to sell to you), pretty much telling you how you can get a good result without software. Boulderdash.

This shameless self-promotion is pitiful and totally misleading. While I think that Mr. Kubota has some really cool photos in his portfolio and is certainly a man with good ideas, this books tarnishes that reputation somewhat.

After all is said and done, my recommendation is that you look for a different book with similar material. This one is somewhat old and although it has some decent setups and ideas you can find similar material presented elsewhere and with less shameless self-promotion.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lighting Demystified September 16, 2011
By Glen M.
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Kevin's new book takes all of the mystery out of photographic lighting. Numerous lighting scenarios are presented with detailed diagrams, illustrations and explanation as to how the final result was achieved and the equipment necessary to achieve the end result. If you are looking for a one stop place for help with your photographic lighting questions, you just found it. Highly recommend!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing August 28, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was very disappointed with this book. Kubotas first item in this "lighting notebook" is a backlit pair of girls. How are they lit? With flashes? With reflectors? Nope... sunlight through a window. Thank you for this extremely obvious and useless example. People buying lighting books are generally more advanced shooters. This example was and is completely unnecessary.

Which ended up being the tone of this book. It ramps up quickly into extremely expensive lighting examples. There are very few examples for the mid-level photographer. Kubotas uses a price indicator and when half of his examples run over $1000, it's pretty obvious that the book is worthless for anyone who owns that much lighting gear.

While a few of the examples are useful, more than half are not. You're better off searching youtube and collecting videos from a variety of sources. Two stars at most.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lighting Recipe Book October 5, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Kubota is well known as a Photoshop/Lightroom Action guru, and I was actually expecting the focus of this book to be Photoshop presets. I was wrong, but in a good way. Kubota provides dozens and dozens of one or two page lighting recipes shot diagrams, and session photos that make it easy and painless to immediately, and dramatically, improve your portrait lighting. I found it an ideal companion to Syl Arena's "Speedliter's Handbook: Learning to Craft Light with Canon Speedlites". While Syl's primary focus is speedlites, he provides a bit more technical information, and isn't afraid to recommend specific brands of equipment. Combining Syl's technical background with Kubota's simple techniques, you can advance your skills, and photographs, very very quickly. Highly recommended.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kevin Kubotas Lighting Notebook September 14, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Kevin Kubota has taken his years in the trenchs has a portrait and wedding photographer and put those experiences between the covers of a well thought out book. His time spent teaching workshops is represented as well. The book is thoughtfully laid out, and easy to follow. Key terms are clearly defined and expanded upon so the guide will be useful for newbies and for experienced photog's looking to expand their palette. I have read lighting guides written by just about everyone that has issued one, and so far Kevin Kubota's is the most accessible, in that he approaches the set ups from the perspective of a working portraitist.(Not a photo-rock star shooting a complicated tableau) It also helps that Kevin Kubota's approachable, personality is represented in the writing. It is written with humor trough out. (helpful in what can be a dry subject)
In addition to the notebook of lighting set ups, there is a chapter on Essential Lighting skills, that generously takes photographers just starting out through the concept of photographic lighting, and gives real world explanations.
The chapter on equipment is detailed and offers low cost alternatives to help defray what can be an expensive range of gear for those just starting to build their studio.
The post production chapter is clearly written with helpful screen shots so you can actually find the "curves adjustment" button in lightroom or whatever enigmatic fiddly thing that needs to be tweaked.
I recommend this guide highly.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
Must read photographer's!
It has techniques, gadgets, light in one book. This book contains very type of lights that you need. To low budge until very expensive tools. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Filipe
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have!
Amazing book! Several recipes for lighting just about any scene you can think of. Laid out well, plenty of example photos, diagrams of the lighting setups used, and even post... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Movielighter
1.0 out of 5 stars Greedy SOB with junk lessons.
This book is filled with junk, it's like looking at a sears catalog. All he's doing is trying to sell his crappy photoshop/lightroom plugins. Read more
Published 6 months ago by GMan
4.0 out of 5 stars great examples and a fun read.
Great examples the images are far better than most books I have read on photography. Love the humor Kevin adds as a bonus.
Published 6 months ago by Scott Hadley
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for all levels
A must have for pros & amateurs alike! Written in easy to understand terms, this will help take your photography one step higher!
Published 7 months ago by C. Byrd
3.0 out of 5 stars Kevin Kubotas Lighting Notebook: 101 Lighting Styles and Setups for...
Kevin Kubotas Lighting Notebook: 101 Lighting Styles and Setups for Digital Photographers does not live up to the hype it spouted.
Published 8 months ago by Karloz
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book on Lighting Styles and Set-ups
Kevin Kubota's method of lighting is "pick the mood, then the tools". That quote is the running thread throughout the book. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Mary H. Gamble
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, albeit flawed
This book has a number of great aspects. First, the organization and layout are very good - start with background information, then a series of actual lighting scenarios. Read more
Published 11 months ago by dumeril7
5.0 out of 5 stars Lighting Book
This is by far the BEST book I've seen on portrait lighting. So many great, hands-on tips. I like the cost ratings, too, from simple and cheap to fancy and expensive.
Published 12 months ago by Elizabeth de Haas
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent guide to professional photographic lighting.
The application of lighting in your photography is the dividing line between an amateur snapshotter and professional photographer. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Nancy Jean Rose
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Topic From this Discussion
Worthwhile for an Aperture user?
Hi Jake!

My name is Alycia and I work for Kevin. I was on all 101 photo shoots I can tell you FOR SURE that the book's value is definitely worth it's weight in gold whether you use LR or not. There is only a small portion of the book that covers post processing. The book is almost completely... Read more
Sep 20, 2011 by S White |  See all 3 posts
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