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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon December 30, 2011
I'll start by saying I'm a big fan of Kelby's books - they're very easy to read (mostly because they're filled with photos and minimal writing opposed to the opposite!) and you usually get some new information in a non-technical way that's easy to understand.
Unfortunately, I'm kind of disappointed by this one -- while called "Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it", the majority of the book revolves around how to fix the images in photoshop (not too big of a surprise, since Kelby is a 'photoshop guy' before a 'photographer'.

I bought the Kindle version (for use on the iPad) and it looks great - images are clear, large and easy to see. I will say that I'd only use it on a Kindle Fire or iPad (the black-and-white kindles will lose a lot from the book, since it's so image-heavy). If you have one of the above though, this is a great way to save a little money and have a portable version "on the go" wherever you're at.

So the premise for the book is great - they show you a final image, then the lighting setup/camera info and finally the editing to get it there. If you read the free sample chapter here you'll only see the final image, lighting setup and camera information.. this is a bit misleading as about 80% of the content is actually in the editing of each image.

For each "look" you get a handful of views of the lighting setup, which is a great idea! An overhead shot showing the model, background, lights, camera, etc.. (plus some side-shots to see more detail and positioning). For each lighting setup/style, you get 1 image which that chapter will focus on (creating it from the lighting to camera settings to photoshop work).

The included chapters/looks are:
Clamshell Lighting, High-contrast lighting, dramatic glamour lighting, lens-flare lighting, using ring flash for fashion lighting, edgy lighting, full-length fashion lighting, soft glamour lighting, fashion side lighting, lighting for compositing, dramatic side lighting, 1940's hollywood-style lighting.

The entire book pretty much revolves around studio shooting (the exception being the fashion side lighting setup, which is done in a house-location) - while this might seem somewhat obvious for the book, a number of shots do show what looks like an "on location" background (spoiler alert - that's all photoshop).

The setups use between 1-4 lights each and a number of modifiers (a ringflash, diffusers, reflectors, grids, softboxes, egg-crates, strip-banks, octobox, continuous lights, strobes, beauty dishes, backdrops and more -- some take it a little further with fog-machines, hair fans and additional lighting). The funny part is that the book starts with "You don't have to spend a ton of money to get these looks" (which then goes on to say you shouldn't cheap on flash modifiers/accessories). It's also worth noting that a number of photoshop tools in here are specific to CS5 (the latest version), so if you're using CS4 or previous you won't be able to follow along with all of these.

For the lighting setups, Scott includes the power settings of each strobe - if you're trying to recreate this look exactly, this is probably helpful.. but for anyone else, seeing "This strobe is 2.6 and this one is 3.9 and this is 4.2 power" isn't going to help everyone. It would have been great if a ratio would have been used ("This light is half-power of this light and the rear light is double the power of the rest"). If you don't use the same lights he does, the power levels (2.6, 3.9, 4.2) probably won't do you too much good.

There is an "add-on" chapter for using a hotshoe flash instead of strobes, and 1 chapter showing continuous lighting, but for the most part this book only uses strobes (Elinchrom).

The "Shoot it" part is very brief on each chapter - showing you the shutter speed, lens, focal length, aperture and ISO. None of this was really helpful, especially since there was no explanation (why the 70-200mm f/2.8 lens on some shots and the 24-70mm 2.8 on others? Why 130mm, why 24mm? why that aperture?)

After this, you get a LONG section on post processing the image. I'll admit, there are some real cool tips in here (for sharpening/contrast), but I was also very surprised by how basic some were (in a "Really? That's the best way? I came here looking for a better way to avoid doing that!" way). There is also a LOT of morphing - model have an odd bump on their head? lets re-shape that. bald spot? we can add some hair there. With the amount of processing on each shot, this seems like a good book for the person who wants ONE final shot from a shoot, but not for the person who will be going through 100 images from a shoot and editing 40 of them. I was hoping for a way to get "that shot" out of camera, not a way to go in after the fact and fix it. Some stuff could easily be avoidable (shooting a full-body model shot on a 5-foot wide backdrop, then needing to fix it in photoshop? why not start with a 10-foot backdrop and save the time? Unless this is supposed to be a "If you end up in this situation.." tip)

As mentioned above, there are some Photoshop CS5-specific tools used in the processing, so if you're using CS4 or older you won't be able to follow-along completely.

I can see this book being useful for the person trying to run a photo business, maybe providing single-shots (or a small amount of them) and not afraid of photoshop, but for the average person you're probably not going to want to go through a 35-step process for completely re-creating a models face (lighting, cloning, sharpening, contrast, re-shaping, re-painting, re-positioning, background replacement) for a single shot. If you're going to do that, why bother with the crazy modifiers/flashes to begin with?

I'm not afraid of photoshop by any means (I actually like it!), but the amount done here just seems so excessive for anyone but the high-end fashion photographer.

With all this said - why the heck did I give it 4 stars?
Well, there is useful information in here - quite a bit! The lighting diagrams are helpful (a chapter showing the differences in lighting modifiers would have been nice - comparing the same shot with a beauty dish, softbox, grid, ringflash, etc..), the camera settings didn't do anything for me but there were some neat tips/tricks in the photoshop section (while I probably won't use the re-shaping, or replacing backgrounds, the tips for sharpening and contrast were very helpful. For that, it was worth it.
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on September 5, 2011
When I noticed that i could buy the full kindle version now, before it's hit stores i jumped right on this, i've been reading Kelby's Blog + watching "The Grid" video podcast that he does and been looking forward to this book, i couldn't make it to the tour he just did so the book is a nice substitute.

I've always enjoyed his writing style, and he answers alot of questions I've had as a semi-pro newbie is a way that i can understand; and i must say that on my PC Monitor it's formatted perfectly, i can scroll from shot to shoot and see how it evolves step by step; i think i may prefer this over having a hardcopy.

I'd strongly recommend this to someone like me trying to figure out the best way to use your lights to create stunning images; also the procedure to really make them "pop" in your photoshop post production.

I like the detail about each shoot so you can really see what is going on; and the contact sheets were a great idea.

EDIT: the kindle version is slightly annoying b/c of the size of the images, you can't really zoom in and see them in great detail , as the other reviewer pointed out this is a bit disappointing.. particularly since the kindle edition is more expensive than the book, the content it still excellent but i did find i wanted to zoom in close than I could.
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on October 4, 2011
As an experienced studio portrait photographer I like to think I know my way round most lighting setups or at least have a pretty educated guess - This book however takes it one step further. People may show you a lighting setup or a finished "polished" shot, but not many take you through the complete step by step process.
For me seeing the contact sheet and Scott's out of camera RAW, lets me relate to how I see my images out of the camera and the potential of the finished shot. Hang in there, it sounds obvious! but Scott's style of writing is as if he is standing next to you guiding you through the stages and why. This is a key thing that a lot of narrators don't get. I looked at a couple of the RAW's and thought hmm, lets see where we go with this.

I love seeing the lighting setup shots from every aspect - front, side, back (and top) showing proximity, angle etc - it takes away the guess work you get from some follow along books I have previously read. The camera settings are there for all to see as are the power settings on the lights. For me venturing out of the studio in to the real world without expensive strobes, this is a godsend.
This book tells you what to edit in what scenario - would I spend half an hour do skin retouching on a full length fashion shot...? no, look at what the focus is on and polish that. Again sounds obvious, but I have been caught up doing things my way, burning up value time.

I have a short attention span and read the manual when something breaks - This book lets you jump in to whatever style you want, when its applicable to you - there is no having to read 15 chapters on things you will never do - if you want portrait, beauty, composite etc just go look it up. There is no expensive equipment needed, in fact the "do it with Speedlights" section is perfect if you don't have a studio etc - this book is ideal for everyone.

While this is a "follow with Scott" ride, not only does it gives you the information end-to-end but for me its a starting point I can experiment with these new styles. I will never know enough about photography and this has certainly got my creativeness flowing again.

New ideas, alternative setups and time saving tips..... The time saved has paid for the book already. And yes I am old school, so I have the physical printed book I can feel and scribble on.
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on September 13, 2011
This is a very well done, visual, and detailed, book. He shows and tells everything. There are photos for every aspect of the shot, from every angle, including from the ceiling looking down, so you can really envision how the set was constructed, how close the lights were to the model and each other.

He shows you the back of the camera, his exact settings including: aperture priority, ISO, f-stop, shutter speed, lens and focal length. He explains, and shows you where he focused his lights, what light modifiers he used, his power settings, and how to adapt that to your lights.

On the retouching, he takes you step-by-step through the camera raw and photo process. Each step is accompanied by a supporting photo of the screen, I would say screen grab, but it looks to be higher quality
. He includes keyboard shortcuts and explains why he is making a particular adjustment. For instance, he takes the recovery slider to the point where the model's face is properly exposed, but doesn't worry about the reflection on metal, or the light bulbs being blown out.

He demonstrates many different photographic/ lighting looks, and they are all very different:
* A classic high key beauty shot
* An edgy rock-n-roll shot, this one had some cool photoshop techniques I hadn't seen, and am looking forward to trying
* A dramatic beauty shot, with lots of contrast and shadows
* Three light lens flare. I would call this one a slightly over-exposed with cool image in sunglasses shot.
* Ring light with another cool sunglasses effect
* 3-light sports setup (masculine edgy lighting)
* 1-light full-length fashion shot, to name just a few
I like the fact that he explains how you can do this without spending a fortune, and that he includes several male shots, and doesn't limit himself to just polished female model beauty shots.

He even includes a separate chapter where he explains how to do all the exact same shots with speedlights.

He includes a gear guide that shows the exact tools he used in the book with pictures and descriptions, right up to the adapter rings and transmitters.

Kelby salts the book with his usual off the cuff humor, which I enjoy. The book, amazingly, moves very quickly, is an easy read, and will be an excellent reference book. He has the uncanny ability to make everything seem easy. And, if you follow his instructions, it probably will be.
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on October 11, 2011
I bought this book after listing to yet another Photofocus podcast which featured Mr Kelby as a guest host. I love his sense of humor and he has a fantastically detailed methodology for communicating his technical expertise.

This book is called Light It, Shoot it, Retouch It but those three aspects are not given equal weight. I was initially taken aback by how much of the book was spent on retouching vs lighting and shooting but as I went through it I found the post processing information absolutely fantastic.
I think that there could have been more insight provided about why certain modifiers would be chosen over others in some of the setups. Also, since it does mention the actual shooting aspect in the title I think that more attention should have been spent on dealing with how he manages a shoot, interacts with the models, how he directs the models and some technical tips on how he focuses and composes his shots.

The above is really just a minor nitpick considering how fantastic the information that the book does provide is. He really opened my eyes to more of the "what" is possible with photoshop along with the how these things are achieved. I greatly appreciated that.

The book's one significant and almost inexcusable flaw is that he never tells you what his lighting ratios are! He uses 500ws elinchrom lights in just about all of the shoots and goes so far as to show you the exact power settings that he used for his shots. But why not use a light meter at the subject and measure each light to tell me how the actual exposure composed is from the subject's point of view. Telling me your aperture and the power settings is doesn't mean nearly as much as telling me that the side strip light is 1.5ev and the key is 1.0. The aperture, iso, shutter speed and light power settings may be nice to have but that information comes a distant second in my mind behind knowing the actual exposure ratios. It was stunning to me that this key detail is left out. Even if you knew the exact distance between each light and the subject, the power settings of the lights is not very helpful because you have no way of knowing how much light is consumed by the modifiers.

Even with that major short coming of the book I would recommend it. There is some great information here and I think that it will help me with my own creativity, process and workflow.
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on January 1, 2012
This book uses a style similar to Ansel Adams' book entitled "Examples" in which he shows you the end product and some of the steps and/or thoughts he used to achieve the end product. Kelby does the same, but for a more narrow topic: studio photography of people (models), but representative with multiple styles. He is very consistent for each example showing: a) studio layout of lights, etc.; b) the rationale for using specific light types, modifiers, and their affects; c) the exact names/models of equipment used; d) comments about degree of ease or difficulty; and e) requirement he experienced for touch up and the steps used in Photoshop for doing so. It is not a book for learning Photoshop (far from it). Furthermore, it is not a book on posing nor a comprehensive guide to portrait lighting techniques (e.g., as in Earnest's "Sculpting with Light"). But it is a book that illuminates the steps Kelby took to create 12 or so finished prints). To a certain extent one can use the book as a cookbook, organized by specific objectives (Dramatic Glamour Lighting, Edgy Lighting, Fashion Photography Lighting, and so forth). He gives the reader plenty of practical hints, but little theory.

I'm not a professional photographer, but have been active in the field for 40 years or so. I rate myself as strong in composition, technology, landscape photography, but weak in the use of artificial light sources and portrait photography. I love exploring and learning (learning once never to take on a wedding)! Kelby's talent shines in this book, but he stretches it a bit in claiming that one can create the same images with <= $15,000 equipment. Heck, he should market such a package!
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VINE VOICEon September 11, 2014
I got this based partly on the promise that it could take you from empty studio to finished product in one book. Well, no it doesn't. For the "light it" part, for example, I was really hoping for a book that explained the various lights - colors, advantages of continuous vs strobe vs speed lights vs leds - what the various light modifiers would do, how best to power them in the studio and some tips on what to look for when selecting lights. Unfortunately, what you get are examples of where he placed his lights, what power and which modifiers. Frankly, I needed - and expected more. The "shooting it" part? Maybe I missed it. There were no tips on actual shooting at all, save to say he mostly shoots at f/11. How about some tips on lens selection, f/stop pros and cons, depth of field discussions, how far to place the model from the background, the pros and cons of various types of backdrops. Nada. What this book is heavy on is the "retouch it" part. Kelby shows off his Photoshop prowess (and he is really, really good at this - that wasn't a swipe) in some nice detail. It's the only thing that saved the book from a one-star rating in my view. It could be so much better but fails to live up to the title.
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on November 2, 2011
Actually very much a photoshop retouch book and not that much of a light it, shoot it book. It have some details of how the shots were set up and what the camera setting were but most of the book is about retouching the shots. Very little about how to light and shoot.
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on October 31, 2011
I have been doing professional photography for some time now, though never formally trained I had the "artsy" ability to thrive on it from a young age. This book is clearly one of the better books on the market that easily demonstrates the easy of all the most dedicated elements of how to frame your subject, light your subject, the gear needed to do all of it, and then on top of all to re-touch it! The other very cool thing about this book is that the text lingo can be understood by the novice photographer as well.

Other things to consider that this book talks about is that you don't have to own really expensive gear.........I highly recommend buying and reading this book, oh, the other nice thing is that Amazon and the author have the book priced very comfortably. I have found many photography books to be very pricy and they don't have as much information as this one does.

Happy shooting!

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on November 13, 2011
Being a beginner at learning how to light I was seeking something to get me started and looking for a book with more direction and guidance. The book was mostly how to touch up a photo and the process for doing this. It did show where lights were set up and what kind but didn't show why it wasn't set up this way or that and what would happen. I knew from Scott Kelby's other books not to expect too much "techinical" info but I was expecting more information on guidance to lighting.
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