- Series: Voices That Matter
- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: New Riders; 1 edition (December 16, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0321700902
- ISBN-13: 978-0321700902
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 133 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #146,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Sketching Light: An Illustrated Tour of the Possibilities of Flash (Voices That Matter) 1st Edition
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From the Back Cover
Following up on the great success of "The Moment It Clicks "and "The Hot Shoe Diaries: Big Light from Small Flashes, " legendary magazine photographer Joe McNally takes us on another memorable ride with Sketching Light, another trip into the land of light--but this time running the gamut from small flash to big flash, and everywhere in between.
Of course, Joe includes coverage of Nikon Speedlights, but he also covers big flash, as well as "in-between" lights as the Elinchrom Quadra. The exploration of new technology, as well as the explanation of older technology. No matter what equipment Joe uses and discusses, the most important element of Joe's instruction is that it is straightforward, complete, and honest. No secrets are held back, and the principles he talks about apply generally to the shaping and quality of light, not just to an individual model or brand of flash.
He tells readers what works and what doesn't via his let's-see-what-happens approach, he shows how he sets up his shots with plentiful sketches and behind-the-scenes production shots, and he does it all with the intelligence, clarity, and wisdom that can only come from shooting in the field for 30 years for the likes of "National Geographic, Time, Life, " and "Sports Illustrated"--not to mention the wit and humor of a clearly warped (if gifted) mind.
About the Author
JOE McNALLY is an internationally acclaimed American photographer and longtime photojournalist. His most notable series is “Faces of Ground Zero—Portraits of the Heroes of September 11th,” a collection of giant Polaroid portraits. He also photographed “The Future of Flying,” the first all-digital story for National Geographic. His award-winning work has appeared in numerous magazines. Joe's previous books are the critically acclaimed and bestselling The Moment It Clicks and The Hot Shoe Diaires: Big Light from Small Flashes.
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Short bits to know about 'Sketching Light'...
>The book is Nikon-centric. Joe is Nikon-centric. Don't let this worry you. If you shoot Canon, or Sony, or any other brand, don't despair. Strip out all the Nikonian jargon and 'Sketching Light' remains a heavyweight when it comes to lighting. (And, if you shoot Canon, check out Speedliter's Handbook: Learning to Craft Light with Canon Speedlites -- written by yours truly. It will give you all the buttons and dials info that you need to drive a Canon Speedlite.)
> 'Sketching Light' is a book about the possibilities of flash and it covers the full spectrum. Joe shoots Speedlights. Joe shoots big lights. Sometimes you need just a breath of on-camera fill flash from a Nikon SB-910. Sometimes you need the punch of an Elinchrom Ranger. Sometimes you need one light. Sometimes you need to haul out every light that you can get your hands on.
> There are plenty of set shots that show Joe and his gear in action. You'll also find Joe's signature lighting diagrams--drawn by hand on napkins and sketch pads--for nearly every shoot in the book. I recommend keeping a highlighter and a black marker on hand so that you can annotate your "aha!" moments as you read.
> Yes, there are photos in the book that no mere-mortal could make. Joe is, after all, the Indiana Jones of photographers. Yet, there are also dozens of shots that you can make today with gear that you likely have around you right now.
> There are no photo captions in the book. At first, you'll hate this. You've likely grown accustomed to flipping through photo books, pausing at a pic, and having the caption give you the basics so that you can move on. 'Sketching Light' makes you earn your knowledge. I guarantee you, however, that as you read Joe's narratives and decode his photos, you'll be a stronger photographer for your efforts.
> This is not a beginner's book that lays a foundation of basic concepts and then layers new ideas on top. Rather, Joe starts right in at an intermediate level and keep moving. Think of 'Sketching Light' as a long conversation that jumps around and you won't be disappointed. Each "chapter" is really another "hey, let me tell you about this now...." And yes, you can jump around 'Sketching Light' and read the chapters for the pix that interest you today and then jump to another spot tomorrow.
> 'Sketching Light' may give you deja vu. If you've read Joe's blog, watched his videos on Kelby Training, or attended one of his seminars/workshops, then you've likely seen some of these pix and heard some of these stories before. I see this as being like catching up with an old friend rather than a shortcoming. Of course, there were pages and pages of material in 'Sketching Light' that I'd never seen before.
While wrapped in a cover that says "flash", for me, 'Sketching Light' is really about vision and using whatever gear you have to craft images that express that vision. It's about dreaming big and having the courage to fail. It's a book that says "go out there and create the images that only you can create."
If you want all the details on how to trigger this or that flash, or what cable to use under what circumstances, you will probably be better off with Syl Arena's Speedliter's Handbook (if you are a Canonista).
If you want to learn photography simply and on a reasonable budget, this is not the book for you either. Joe McNally seems to take pleasure in blocking NYC streets with cranes or moving huge equipment to the top of mountains to shoot admittedly gorgeous pictures. You might find what you are looking for in Digital Photography Lighting For Dummies (no offense intended - I really like the book).
Except for the first 30 odd pages which show with great clarity not only the major types of modifiers but how to use them and their effect, Sketching Light is structured in chapters dealing with essentially one shoot, or similar shoots, showing lots of great, great pictures, frequent lighting diagrams or set up photos, the whole being drenched into Joe's prose which must have improved a lot since his first books, judging after the amazon reviews on these.
No, you won't learn all the details about this or that lens, what aperture was used or what was the color temperature adjustment. (Well, there is some of that.)
Yes, Joe is a Nikonista and any gear info will be skewed that way, although honestly it didn't bother me a bit.
What you will not find in this book is the description of the classic lighting patterns (Rembrandt, Hollywood, loop, butterfly etc.). For these, have a look at the Master Lighting Guide for Portrait Photographers.
What Joe McNally gives you is the extraordinary, the dream.
It becomes all too easy to forget that before running, one has to learn to stand and walk, so if you are a pro or an advanced amateur flash photographer, by any means grab the nuggets of info and shoot. But for me as an intermediate amateur, the lesson I learned is that making a great picture takes work and efforts and that maybe (just maybe) it is worth learning first to do the classic lighting patterns.
Finally, Joe McNally's pictures are great thanks to his flawless technique, not necessarily his vision. Composition is good, lighting is gorgeous. For gorgeous pictures based a lot on composition (and posing, and post-processing - argh, yes, I said that), check out Jeff Ascough's work on the web or Picture Perfect Practice (both are geared towards wedding photography).
All in all a very nice book. If you are into photography, want to see beautifully lit pictures and read the stories about them, Sketching Light is a book for you.
If you want more hands-on tutorial, you might find what you want with Scott Kelby's The Digital Photography Book,Part 2 and Part 4 (but skip part 3).
I drop half a star for the fast one he pulled with the picture on p400 (testing a flash and lighting with the sunset - how are we supposed to identify what light comes from where?) and rounding up to five stars for an outstanding read, cover to cover.