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Light: Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting [Paperback]

by Fil Hunter, Steven Biver, Paul Fuqua
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (197 customer reviews)


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Light Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting Light Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting 4.8 out of 5 stars (95)
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Book Description

March 21, 2007 0240808193 978-0240808192 3rd
An amazing (and some would say magical) resource on photographic lighting that has been talked about in the community and recommended for years. This highly respected guide has been thoroughly updated and revised for content and design - it is now produced in full color! It introduces a logical theory of photographic lighting so if you are starting out in photography you will learn how to predict results before setting up lights. This is not primarily a how-to book with only set examples for you to copy. Rather, Light: Science and Magic provides you with a comprehensive theory of the nature and principles of light to allow you to use lighting to express your own creativity.

Numerous photographs and illustrations provide clear examples of the theories, while sidebars highlight special lighting questions. Expanded chapters on available light in portraiture, as well as new information on digital equipment and terminology make this a must have update!


Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Steven Biver, Virginia, USA, Commercial photographer, former clients include Adobe, Mobil, Newsweek, Black and Decker
Paul Fuqua, Virginia, USA, started his own audiovisual production company in 1970. Dedicated to teaching through visuals, he has written and produced educational and training material in a variety of fields, including law, science, and nature. His photography takes him all over the world, but he makes his home in Arlington, VA.
Fil Hunter is a highly respected commercial photographer specializing in still life and special effects photographs for advertising and editorial illustration. During a career spanning over three decades, he has worked for such clients as America Online, US News, Time-Life Books, Life Magazine (27 covers), the National Science Foundation, and National Geographic. He has taught photography at the university level and has served as technical consultant on a number of photographic publications. Mr. Hunter has won the Virginia Professional Photographer's Grand Photographic Award three times. He lives in Alexandria, VA.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Focal Press; 3rd edition (March 21, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0240808193
  • ISBN-13: 978-0240808192
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 7.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (197 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #421,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
121 of 123 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding and Essential! February 16, 2003
Fil Hunter and Paul Fuqua have written a truly essential reference for product photographers and an outstanding educational text for all photographers. Light, Science and Magic teaches its readers the principals of lighting. It describes in detail how to light surfaces, metal, glass, liquids, extremes (black-on-black and white-on-white), and people for different effects. These subjects were chosen because they are reputed to be the most difficult subjects to light. But because the book emphasizes the principals of lighting, those lessons can be applied to all lighting situations. The examples in Light,Science and Magic are in-studio, but the principals apply out-of-doors and anywhere that there is light. You don't need to have a background in studio photography or a knowledge of lighting equipment to understand and benefit from this book. You need to have only a good understanding of exposure and camera operation. Information on basic lighting equipment is found in the appendices for those who are unfamiliar with studio equipment. Because the principals of lighting apply equally to film photography and digital image capture, most of this book's content will not go out of date. No photographer should be without the knowledge in this book. If you can absorb all of the book's content, there is nothing that you will encounter in all your photographic adventures that you won't know how to light to get the effect you want. It is well worth its price!
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69 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Saved me money the first day July 11, 2001
Verified Purchase
I love the approach in this easy to read book. The authors' philosophy is to be as creative in as many ways as possible, even down to improvising equipment and overcoming lack thereof. If, say, candles will suffice, then why use strobes? I feared a huge shopping list for my foray into the world of studio lighting. This very helpful alternative to months of expensive experimentation has shown me a more structured approach, the focus being on Return on Investment while maximising results.
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92 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Photography is all about light November 30, 1999
Whether you're a beginner with a point-and-shoot or a professional with a huge investment in equipment, you need to know how light works. This book can teach you everything you need to know. It has both theory and practical guidance. The authors don't tell you which lights to use in a given situation -- they teach you how to determine what lighting to use to achieve the effect _you_ want. And they help you select lighting equipment.
To be fair, it's not always an easy read (there's a lot of theory and some math/physics to wade through), but it's worth the effort. I saw the difference in the next roll I shot. I only wish I had found this book a few years ago...
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40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent October 23, 2008
Format:Paperback
I was looking for some literature regarding lighting that would cover basics for product photography. Unfortunately, most books endulge in a certain high level lingo that would confuse most of the readers. One could easily see which author has more experience based on the level of simplicity he or she uses in order to explain some concepts. A friend of mine lent me this book and I have now the chance to write a short review about it.
First of all: the book is excellent. The paper and printing quality (full color for all photographs and diagrams) are outstanding. One can easily see essential details in images, like different textures and apperance of surfaces under various lighting setups. So this is a big plus.
The book is divided in 10 chapters as follow:

1. How to learn lighting; this chapter gives you basic information regarding general lighting principles, the way the author chose the examples and - most important - why did he chose those examples, the rationale behind all exercises and some hints for the way you should approach each exercise (procedures, goals - what you should get) and also some general information about shooting equipment that one needs in order to perform the exercises in the book.

2. Light: the raw material for photography. This chapter explains in detail, but not to boredom and in a very plain and explicit manner the properties of light that each photographer should know and understand in order to take proper images. What I most liked is the fact that the author starts from a basic principle (almost as an axiom) that the most important factor for photography is not the gear but the light and the way a photographer understands and uses light.

3. The management of reflection and the family of angles.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Lighting Book that Teaches You How to Think April 6, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Not just a bag of tricks, it teaches a way of thinking about light that promotes a better understanding and enhanced problem solving. At Strobist we are way into photographic lighting - too much so, our spouses might add - and this is the best book on the subject that I have seen yet.

This new (3rd) edition has full color all the way through, with updated photos that are simpler, to distill the lessons right down to the concepts being taught. It is about time this book got the production budget that it merited.

I cannot imagine there is a photographer out there that would not benefit from this book.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very useful but a little dated October 5, 2005
By B.T.
I am a professional photographer, and I was looking for a book on lighting technique - which this book supplied excellently.

Their step by step approach is easy to follow and understand, and all explainations have images attached so you can see what they are talking about.

They slowly build your general knowledge on how light works rather than supplying specific lighting diagrams, allowing (and suggesting that you do) you to adapt the knowledge to your own use. They then go into more detail with difficult lighting subjects such as metal, glass, and more, and how to deal with them.

My only complaint is that the book is starting to feel a little old, especially when they talk about colour. It is almost exclusively film based with virtually no reference to digital technology. If they were to do an updated version with more emphasis on lighting for digital, I would provide 5 stars.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Authoritative
This book is comprehensive, authoritative and easy to understand. It's possibly the best book about photographic lighting in existence. Read more
Published 26 days ago by Pandora
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
Haven't read everything yet, it is a good reference book for studio or still life photography. Hope it has newer edition.
Published 1 month ago by yc
5.0 out of 5 stars Light Science & Majic
Awesome! This book is for every photographers library.
For the novice and the amateur, it is a keeper for sure!
Published 2 months ago by vj
5.0 out of 5 stars Great!!
Excellent book that gives the necessary tools needed to understand lighting in all situations.
A must have in order to master lighting
Published 2 months ago by Kevin
2.0 out of 5 stars Tough to read and follow
If you like the Kelby style of photography books where you can read a little and it all makes sense, this book is NOT for you. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Old Coot
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is magic.
If you want to learn lighting from the ground up then this is the book to buy.
It's very well written, has plenty of good diagrams and explanatory photographs. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Randell
4.0 out of 5 stars Things, not people
Very thorough coverage of lighting everything but people. Presents concepts for a different point of view than most lighting books.
Published 6 months ago by M. Hamilton
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of good information but...
This book has lots of great information in it but its just not a good read for me. It seemed very technical and to me its not an "introduction".
Published 9 months ago by Photo Girl
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely stunning!
By far, this book is my favorite on the subject of photography. Full of examples and lots of illustrations, the book covers the topic in a scientific but also fun and easy to... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Jeremy Wilcock
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly informative!
This book is incredible! It's everything you ever wanted to know about lighting! I borrowed it from the library but ended up buying my own copy because I wanted to emulate... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Jeeper
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Topic From this Discussion
What's new in the 3rd ed?
Colour. The fundamentals don't change, but every illustration and exmaple is now in colour. Not having read, but just flipped through older editions, I can't account for textual differences, though there will be those as well.
Apr 25, 2007 by Maxwell Heights |  See all 5 posts
Spanish edition??
The Spanish edition listing was an error, presumably by Amazon software. The L-S&M on the American Amazon site is entirely in English.

There IS a Spanish edition, though, if you're looking for one: La illuminacion en la fotografia (omitting a couple of accents I can't seem to do here). However,... Read more
Dec 30, 2008 by Fil Hunter |  See all 2 posts
When will the 4th edition be available on Kindle?
Same here. Might be a good idea to contact the authors and publisher.
Nov 29, 2011 by Pamela |  See all 3 posts
What about pictures on the Kindle?
Fil,

We have both editions, dead-tree & Kindle. Until about 20-mins ago, we also had the Amazon Upgrade Edition but that was just too hard to read the text. This AM we went ahead and bought the Kindle version for our Kindle 1 device. There is the obvious issue with photographs and having only... Read more
Feb 28, 2009 by brecklundin |  See all 22 posts
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