Studio Anywhere: A Photographer's Guide to Shooting in Unconventional Locations 1st Edition
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About the Author
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The author covers many different scenarios: low-key portraits, bright and dark product shots, shooting with water, bright sky and dark night portraits... always in tight spots with minimal gear. Keep in mind the author really likes hard light, like rock-hard light from an unmodified speedlight. If you're a fan of soft, subtle lighting, you might not like all of his photos.
A few nitpicks: The author frequently refers to speedlights as "bare-bulb strobes". Speedlights have lenses and mirrors that enable their features, they are not bare-bulb strobes. I think he just means "bare flash", meaning no modifier was used. Also he makes a big deal about how superior Neutral Density filters are to High-Speed Sync modes on speedlights, but he compares the two unfairly to make ND filters sound wonderful and HSS sound terrible, using different exposure settings for the two tests. HSS costs about two stops of power, if you put a two-stop ND filter in front of your lens, you will also need an additional two stops of flash power. Anyway, I'm just saying ND filters are not some magical solution to flash sync problems, using them requires more flash power just like HSS does, and ND filters make it harder to change lenses, since you also have to change filters when you do, possibly requiring multiple filters for different size lenses, step-up rings, etc. HSS just works.
So, if you're looking for a collection of practical tips for using the world as your studio to take great pictures, "Studio Anywhere" is highly recommended!
However, as I've had this for a few years I continue to gain new knowledge every time I pick it up. For example, Nick's gear is simple, but does the job. It's a clear example of how little you really need to do professional work. Anytime you find yourself "Needing" more photo gear, take a look at Nick's gear and you may find you have more than enough gear to do excellent photography.
Then there are the examples. As I grow as a photographer different chapters appeal to me. Nick covers people and products...and those have had different appeal to me at different times. However, whichever subject I find myself interested at the time, I find Nick's book to have something to help me grow in that area.
And then there's the extensive Lightroom examples. I haven't made it to using Lightroom yet, however I have now found that I can at least apply many of his principals to my work in Rawtherapee. And once I make it to using Lightroom, I'll bet I can appreciate those even more.
I've found myself with the opportunity to have a very small photo studio in my home, and with Nick's book I'm extremely confident that I'll be able to put even that small space to great use.
To me, this book has great appeal to someone who may wish to start a photography business. It doesn't cover the travel/landscape/artsy photography. But it DOES cover topics that would be the bread & butter to someone who would like to bring in some money through photography. It covers a lot of corporate type shooting, along with product and portrait photography.
I don't usually write reviews...but found myself referencing this book over and over for the past two years...it's good stuff!
However, I am a little disappointed how much the author relies on using "post" to make up for lack of lighting, when in many of examples it would have been easy/possible to add another flash. Obviously we'd all like to not have to carry around that little bit extra gear, but it just seems to go against the whole concept that we do 90% of our shots without a studio. We are not talking run and gun here, we're talking posed sittings, which may or may not have time pressures and baggage allowance issues.
On the whole the guidelines and ideas are great, but I do feel the heavy reliance on "Lightroom" to fix what we didn't get on set, is a little off-putting.
Top international reviews
I bought the book after finding a sample chapter online. The book is split into six sections with each section showing you how to create a studio-like environment in your living room, backyard, basement, office, local park or street. Each section includes a handful of case studies that show the environment the photographer found himself in and how he went about crafting a great image from it. Some of his ideas are extremely creative, such as shooting a perfume bottle in a puddle in the street and shooting a model in a kids' paddling pool, and the images are often very compelling.
For most of the images, the author also shows his editing workflow in Lightroom and Photoshop. I found these sections less useful than the photography parts, although they did teach me a little about colour grading. The book also includes a short quiz where you have to ‘guess the lighting’, which was a fun way to test your knowledge.
Because it’s so heavily illustrated, it’s a quick read — I finished it in about three sittings. But I’m sure it’s a book I will come back to as it’s such a great source of ideas.
Theres something about the writing and approach that really helped me 'get' the story behind how he did each photo.
some shots were in pretty ropey locations (the cool front image is in a 20 foot square space which is in fact a very messy bedroom) but he was always able to improvise round it, and gives a good explanation of his workarounds. plus there is a very strong link to the post work, so you get the 'complete' journey from location arrival to submission of the image.
plus i liked the fact that they were 'cool' images not a) really cheesy portraits or b) uber fashion shoots. and his approach varied a lot, so he wasn't stuck in a style.
plus his writing is quite funny, not pretentious. it's actually a good read in itself.
Just a great book, for any level of photographer. Im sort of semi-pro, and have found it inspiring and educational.
It deconstructs what can appear that be complex setups to easy to understand and replicate.
You don't need expensive gear just the know how and vision.