Top positive review
4 people found this helpful
Excellent equipment guide - Mediocre lighting guide - Somewhat misleading title
on March 26, 2010
The first 60% or so of the book gives you an overview about modern, portable, speedlight based lighting systems. The author also touches on larger studio lights and big softboxes. This excellent overview can save you many hours of online research to understand what options are out there and to get an idea what they cost. If you read it before you put your first step into the lighting field, it may also save you hundreds of bucks. This first part of the book is really outstanding and it alone makes the book worth reading for anyone new to the field.
The rest of the book is a lighting guide in form of selected case studies. First of all, this part is badly edited. The text of the case studies is accompanied by lighting diagrams and the actual photos with legends. In about half of the cases the information in picture legends, diagrams, and text is incongruent. The text might say a Fuji camera and umbrella from the right was used while the diagram says a Nikon with softbox from the left. Most of the time you can extract the relevant information - still, mistakes in this quantity are unprofessional, and a publisher should get this under control before he prints a book and asks money for it.
This said, the photos are all very well lit. The pictures were mostly taken for corporate clients, and as a result the lighting style is rather "safe" with lots of 45° soft light, and very similar in most pictures. I think it would have been nice to see a little bit what else can be done with all that equipment. On the other hand the author probably focussed on what he does best and he's really good at it.
The title has been considered misleading by other reviews and people have argued against that, but I have to agree. If a minimalist is somebody who uses "the bare minimum of what is necessary", large softboxes and up to five or six flashes aimed at selected background details just don't qualify, no matter how good the final image looks. The book's philosphoy is "smaller than heavy duty" which does not necessarily mean minimalism to me. It contains a couple of good one light shots, but if you are looking for something like "the range of possibilities with one or two flashes, an umbrella, and a cereal snoot" you are wrong here.
Overall, I expected something different and was a bit disappointed with the spectrum of artistic techniques offered. Instead I got a lesson about equipment options that was way better then what I would have expected. If you are new to off-camera speedlights and trying to figure out were to go in terms of equipment, this book is a valuable resource.