- Series: Voices That Matter
- Paperback: 264 pages
- Publisher: New Riders; 1st edition (September 11, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0321786610
- ISBN-13: 978-0321786616
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.7 x 9.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 191 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #149,065 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It: Learn Step by Step How to Go from Empty Studio to Finished Image (Voices That Matter) 1st Edition
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Here are a few things I wish someone had told me before I started studio lighting. In this book, I list ten things about lighting. Here are three to get you started right away.
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About the Author
Scott Kelby is Editor-in-Chief of Photoshop User magazine, President of the National Association of Photoshop Profession als (NAPP), Training Director for the Adobe Photoshop Seminar Tour, and one of the leading seminar instructors in the industry today. Scott is author of the best-selling books The Lightroom Book for Digital Photographers, Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques for Photographers Using Photoshop, Photoshop Down & Dirty Tricks, and The Digital Photography B ook (volumes 1, 2 & 3), among others. His easygoing, plain-English style of teaching makes learning photography and Photoshop fun. Scott trains thousands of photographers each year through his live seminars, live Webinars, and his weekly videocast. He knows firsthand which lighting and retouching techniques are in demand, and now he shares them all in one place, here in his latest book.
Top customer reviews
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.
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.
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!