- Paperback: 328 pages
- Publisher: Focal Press; 4th edition (September 8, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0240812255
- ISBN-13: 978-0240812250
- Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 420 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #181,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Light Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting 4th Edition
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Amazon Exclusive: A Letter from Fil Hunter, Paul Fuqua, and Steven Biver, authors of Light--Science & Magic, on Lighting
We photographers now live in a gadget-based world. If you don’t believe me, just look at the Web or any photography magazine. What do you see but item after item extolling the virtue of this or that gizmo?
The lighting side of picture making is no exception. In fact it has become so intense that a huge proportion of questions I’m asked are of the “How can I work without a . . . ?” or “Will I ever be able to make good portraits without a . . . ?”
Fortunately two sentences written for the first edition of Light--Science & Magic some 25 years ago by our co-author, Fil Hunter are just as relevant today as they were then, a quarter of a century ago:
- “No photographer has enough lighting equipment to do every assignment as well as possible." and “Most photographers have enough equipment to do almost every assignment well.”
To put those two pithy lines another way, it’s what you do with what you’ve got that counts.
Sure, there most certainly are those times when the newest and niftiest piece of gear would make life a lot easier. But if you can’t afford it, don’t go out and shoot yourself. Instead, start trying to figure out a different way of getting the job done.
You’ll be amazed at how many times you can.
--Fil Hunter, Paul Fuqua, and Steven Biver
Amazon Exclusive: An Example from Paul Fuqua, One of the Authors of Light--Science & Magic, on Lighting
For the most part, my co-author, Steven, and I specialize in very different kinds of photography. Steven usually works using lights. I almost always work with only the ambient light I find where I’m shooting.
But as different as these two ways of working are, the approaches we use to lighting our subjects are almost identical. That’s because no matter where you find it or what its sources may be, light always behaves in certain predictable ways.
Take this portrait of my friend Howard. To make it I moved him into the “open” shade of a nearby barn. This flooded him with the kind of softly diffused light I had pre-visualized for the picture.
I then positioned Howard close to the edge of the barn’s shadow. This allowed a small number of the sun’s brighter rays to fall on the camera right side of his face.
The result of this slightly uneven lighting was twofold. First, Howard’s facial features were nicely modeled and second, the diffused light prevented any unattractive hard-edged shadows on it.
What’s important about the above is that I was able to use the ambient light I found on a location to make this portrait using exactly the same basic approach that Steven could use to produce identical looking lighting using studio strobes. Simply put, light is light, and it always follows the same laws of nature wherever it is and whatever produces it.
And that’s exactly what Light--Science & Magic is all about.
-- Paul Fuqua
Featured Photographs from the Authors of Light--Science & Magic
Still life was lit with one large soft box. This type of light modifier enables you to create as soft and often pleasing “window light” look.
Location portrait photographed with dappled ambient light.
Featured Excerpts from Light--Science & Magic
Read a few sample pages on how the cover was made. [PDF]
Read a few sample pages on how to photograph glass. [PDF]
"If you are a photographer of any type, especially on who does studio work, this is a must have reference." - BC Books (May 2007) "The first book on photographic lighting that is worth using as a text. Light - Science and Magic is about principles, not cheap tricks or the authors' portfolio." -Pete Christman, Savannah College of Art and Design.
"I've found Light Science and Magic to be an invaluable tool." -Pointsinfocus.com
"This is the indispensable guide to photographic lighting for photographers at all stages of their craft." -Professional Photographer Magazine "I believe Light: Science & Magic should be a part of every serious photographer's library, and I feel strongly about it." -Photofidelity.com
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
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The book is a bit technical and I will need to read it again... slowly... so that I can digest everything. But the level of detail is a good thing and totally worth the effort if you truly want to understand lighting for photography. Then again, some people may prefer a less technical book.
It covers photographing different types of subjects... reflective, clear, black, white, etc. It covers portraiture. Look at the table of contents.
In addition to explaining the science of why you need to light a certain type of subject a certain way to produce a certain result, it includes photos to illustrate these points. Although this may seem like a no-brainer, not all books do this. And the photos are in color, as they should be.
The bird's-eye-view diagrams that illustrate where to position the lights, reflectors, gobos, etc. are very very helpful. Again, not all books do this. Not all instructors want to take the time to do this. It makes a lot of difference. These are not lazy authors.
Quite frankly, the only thing I was not too crazy about was a figurine used in several of the the photos. But that is just a superficial subjective thing that does not take away from the quality of this book. Just saying for completeness. :)
In summary, there is just so much meat to this book that my review can't do it justice. Unless you are already a master photographer, I think there's something in here for you. I highly recommend this book.
- Detailed explanations that help you understand the science of lighting.
- Excellent photos that illustrate what techniques work and, also important, what doesn't.
- Bird's-eye-view diagrams that illustrate where to position the lights, reflectors, gobos, etc.
- none, unless an in-depth explanation of lighting is not for you. And we do have choices. :)
Well laid out, easy to read, excellent diagrams and a wealth of information that will stick with you because the scientific principles that go hand in hand with photography are spelled out in detail.