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Master Lighting Techniques for Outdoor and Location Digital Portrait Photography
Master Lighting Techniques for Outdoor and Location Digital Portrait Photography
by Stephen A. Dantzig
Edition: Paperback
Price: $34.95
31 used & new from $3.48

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Photographic Book of 2006, August 18, 2006
Master Lighting Techniques

Stephen A. Dantzig

Stephen Dantzig wrote one of the definitive books on studio lighting, "Lighting Techniques for Fashion and Glamour Photography" back in 2005. Now he takes his considerable educational and writing talents and tackles the specific lighting needs of outdoor and location photographers.

Reading a Stephen Dantzig book on photographic lighting is a pleasure to be savored slowly. There is so much to learn and so many thought provoking views on the subject that it's a crime to rush though the book. The man knows his subject and tackles it in an unconventional and effective way.

Just as he did in his book, "Lighting Techniques for Fashion and Glamour Photography" Dantzig challenges the reader right from the beginning. There is no waste or filler in his books. He discusses different lighting needs for portrait photographers vs. beauty and fashion photographers. He explains why shooting digital is more akin to shooting chrome than film, and the implications on more precise lighting measurements.

Most photographic authors show portfolio grade images exclusively. However in this book Dantzig shows successful as well as lighting failure examples... then he dissects the failures. The reader often learns more from the `failure' examples than from the typical successful images. This is a very effective technique that more photographic authors should use.

As is typical with Danzig's books are the excellent image diagrams they help the user to visualize the shooting conditions. Not just the placement of strobe lights, but the location and condition of the sun. Another thing I like about Danzig's book is the way that he masterfully blends camera / lighting techniques with Photoshop techniques, helping the reader all along the way, not an easy thing to do.

With "Master Lighting Techniques" Danzig delivers the best photographic book of 2006, just as he did last year with "Lighting Techniques for Fashion and Glamour Photography".

Put it this way, if I were to teach a college level class on photographic lighting, Danzig's two books would be the required texts.

They're that good.

Outdoor Lighting: Nudes
Outdoor Lighting: Nudes
by Cathy Joseph
Edition: Paperback
25 used & new from $0.03

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Home Run!, December 1, 2005
Outdoor Lighting: Nudes - Cathy Joseph

Anyone who read my review of Cathy Joseph's book, `Outdoor Lighting: Fashion & Glamour' knows that I instantly became a Cathy Joseph groupie. That was the photography book that I would have written if only I had talent.

So I was overjoyed when the publisher AVA Photography notified me that Cathy Joseph had written two additional books in the series, `Outdoor Lighting: Nudes' and `Outdoor Photography: Portraits'. Immediately I ordered both from

I was performing that twice yearly ritual here in the Midwest (converting the lawn tractor from mowing to snow-blowing duty) when the books arrived. Grimy from rolling around on the garage floor... cursing at stubborn bolts and the like, I ran into the house anxious to see if Joseph and AVA could deliver that second most difficult task in publishing, writing a sequel that won't disappoint (the first most difficult task in publishing appears to be writing a valuable photography book in the first place!).

The same team that delivered a home run with `Outdoor Lighting: Fashion & Glamour' also created `Outdoor Lighting: Nudes' and Ms Joseph is kind enough to acknowledge them: Sarah Jameson for finding the photographs used in the book and Gavin Ambrose for the book design. This is definitely an All-Star team.

Blessedly, this team doesn't wander far from the formula that worked so well in the Fashion and Glamour book. Back is the raw technical data for nearly every image. Included also for each image is a brief on: The Concept, The Location, Composition, Lighting and Technique. This is again, a book written for photographers! Amen.

And, in a nice change from our technology obsessed culture, Ms Jameson found, and Ms Joseph used, wonderful images cheerfully made by a cheap camera which `some people call the worst camera ever made'. Most of the photos shown here were made using only the sun, very few with complicated lighting setups. You get the idea, this is a book that celebrates the image above all.

And what wonderful images they are! This book celebrates the human body, artistically photographed. There is nudity here yes, pornography, no. Ms Jameson found wonderful images, and they are used to great effect by Ms Joseph. Because of this book I've discovered a new idol in photography, Arnold Henri. His images are stunning and provocative. Check out his images throughout the book, but especially on page 114.

Is there anything at all wrong with this book? A little. Ms Joseph so spoils us that, like a perturbed child, I pout that there is no detail on the wonderful photographs that start each chapter. I want details! You've hooked me, now give them to me! That said, there is more useful information in this one book than in an entire library of most photography books.

The bottom line? As I said about `Outdoor Lighting: Fashion and Glamour' also, this book WILL make you a better photographer.

So? While I realize that the Swiss/British publisher and the British writing team of this book probably won't appreciate the analogy, this one too, clears the fences. Let's just say that this is a sequel that certainly doesn't disappoint.

Well done.

Buy it.

Now, can this great team deliver in the third title in this series, `Outdoor Photography: Portraits'? You'll just have to wait to find out... back to the tractor!

Basic Studio Lighting: The Photographer's Complete Guide to Professional Techniques
Basic Studio Lighting: The Photographer's Complete Guide to Professional Techniques
by Tony L. Corbell
Edition: Paperback
83 used & new from $0.42

60 of 63 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Such a Missed Opportunity, December 1, 2005
There is no question that Tony Corbell takes wonderful photographs. Go to his website at [...] to see for yourself. But, as we've often seen, raw photographic talent more often than not does not translate into teachable talent or competent writing skills.

In `Basic Studio Lighting' Corbell tackles a needed subject, writes in an agreeable fashion and delivers with beautiful examples. Yet one finishes this book, while thankful for the nuggets of valuable information, ultimately disappointed.

Disappointed at the missed opportunity. Corbell might very well have delivered a photographic knockout punch. He could have written the definitive textbook on studio lighting. Instead his book falls into the "out of 144 pages, I picked up three new ideas" category that too often describes photographic instruction books.

How do you possibly write a book on basic studio lighting without a single lighting diagram connected to an individual photograph? Tony Corbell did.

He even knows the importance of conveying that information. Consider, on page 128, Corbell writes "Placement of the separation light is of key importance..." yet no diagrams. As in none.

Didn't early on somebody, anybody (maybe an editor who should have known better) say, `Uh Tony? You might want to diagram those lighting setups, just in case someone might actually want to use your information"? This omission alone takes this book from the keeper category and lands it into the `read once and discard' category.

This book reads like Tony's lectures might sound if they were written down with a slideshow of images behind him, not like a book written from scratch.

Such a missed opportunity.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 17, 2011 12:06 PM PST

Wedding and Studio Portrait Photography: The Professional Way
Wedding and Studio Portrait Photography: The Professional Way
by Jonathan Hilton
Edition: Hardcover
37 used & new from $0.10

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tackles Well the Concerns of Wedding & Portrait Photographers, November 27, 2005
"Wedding and Studio Portrait Photography: The Professional Way" by Jonathan Hilton

Johathan Hilton has written a useful and informative book for the professional. The book is divided into two sections, one on wedding photography and the other on portrait photography. As a bonus, at the end are the portfolios of three wedding and two portrait photographers that are inspirational to view.

The wedding section follows a wedding in logical sequence, from wedding preparations to the reception. Each image here is diagramed to show the way it was taken, the lights used, and what the photographer was trying to accomplish. In short, a useful reference. The images shown here would be a good checklist for wedding photographers, to make sure nothing is missed. There are plenty of useful sidebars with Hints and Tips.

This book was written in the pre-digital age, yet surprisingly has aged very well, since it focuses on techniques that are universal to all photographers, film or digital. Modern photographers will smile at the quaint discussion of camera gear, yet another reminder to publishers not to include this information as it dates your book too quickly. Still, "Wedding and Studio Portrait Photography" should not be overlooked because of this, since outdated equipment discussions are left quickly by page 13.

The portrait section revolves around "The Four Ages" i.e., babies, youth, maturity, and old age. This section has stunning images and the same wonderful diagrams as the wedding section, to allow the reader to recreate the images.

This is a well written book that tackles well the specific concerns of wedding and portrait photographers.


Achieving the Ultimate Image: How Any Photographer Can Take World-Class Photographs
Achieving the Ultimate Image: How Any Photographer Can Take World-Class Photographs
by Ernst Wildi
Edition: Paperback
40 used & new from $0.01

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A basic photography book, rather poorly executed, November 20, 2005
This book's subtitle is: "How any photographer can take world-class photographs". A lofty goal, but unfortunately one that this book fails to deliver.

Amherst Media, the publisher of this book, seems to have a problem with their releases. They all have great titles, the kind to make you want to pick up the book, but they all seem to waffle when it comes to who's their target audience. Is it the housewife who just picked up her first point and shoot? Or the professional looking to improve their craft? In the end, the publisher tries to appeal to every spectrum and fails to satisfy anyone. This book is no exception.

So what's wrong? WAY too much filler, for one. Mediocre photos for another (this IS a book on achieving the ultimate image, after all... I guarantee you right now that your portfolio contains better images than most of the examples in this book).

Consider the chapter headings. Is this what you expect from a book with this title? Or rather one entitled, "So you've bought your first real camera":

Chapter One: Film or No Film?

Chapter Two: Films for the Ultimate Image Quality

Chapter Three: Selecting the Film Format

Chapter Four: Camera Features

Chapter Five: Camera Operation For Image Quality & Effects

Chapter Six: Lenses for Creating the Ultimate Sharpness

Chapter Seven: Effective Use of Lenses & Lens Controls

I could go on, but you get the idea. A basic photography book, rather poorly executed.

Pass on this one.

50 Portrait Lighting Techniques for Pictures that Sell
50 Portrait Lighting Techniques for Pictures that Sell
by John Hart
Edition: Paperback
66 used & new from $0.01

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Worth Buying, November 20, 2005
This is an older book (copyright 1995) but is frequently still available. In fact, you've probably seen this book at your local camera store's book aisle.

Hart's book is an ok resource on studio lighting, and I've found techniques here that I haven't seen elsewhere. Especially nice is the section on makeup techniques for both men and women.

Still, this book has not aged well and you'd do better with other studio lighting books, like Ketchum's and Dantzig's. Consider this comment:

"You will notice that most of the techniques shown here are accomplished using lights rather than strobe units. Though strobe portraits are perfectly acceptable for personal and commercial use today, the art of portrait lighting is still best learned and assimilated through working with lights. Many subjects prefer working under hot, bright lights (!), as it helps draw out their innate "star quality."

One wonders what Hart's sample size was to draw that conclusion?

What I like about this book:

1) Very good lighting diagrams... showing not only the placement of lights, but their distance from the subject as well.

2) A wide variety of lighting challenges, including for example, "Lighting the 'Wet' Look" and "Photographing Hats"

3) Relatively small amount of filler.

What I don't like about this book:

1) Those wonderful lighting diagrams? They show things like 150 watt spotlights (remember Hart thinks models PREFER hot lights), making it difficult to convert to modern strobe settings.

2) Many of the models here aren't very attractive. I know that shouldn't matter but it does distract from the text of the book. If you want to know how to photograph 45 year old overweight real estate agents, this is your book.

3) The book hasn't aged well, as mentioned above. This is a book BEGGING for a revised edition. Opps... this IS the revised edition. Make that this is a book begging for a revised, revised edition.

Not worth buying, IMHO.

Secrets of the Digital Darkroom: The Complete Illustrated Guide to Getting the Best Results from your Digital Photographs
Secrets of the Digital Darkroom: The Complete Illustrated Guide to Getting the Best Results from your Digital Photographs
by Peter Cope
Edition: Paperback
Price: $29.95
40 used & new from $0.01

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beginner's Photoshop, November 20, 2005
This unpresuming book certainly won't blow you away with its' writing style. And in the unfortunate tradition of Photoshop books everywhere, it covers the same ground that many other books do (please! No more chapters on color correction!). Still, I find that I reach for this book first when I'm trying to remember how to do something like extract an object.

Let's face it, unlike the Kelby and Ames books, this one is really targeted for your friend with the point and shoot who wants to take their photography to a higher level by touching up their images. It's unlikely to really excite the pros on this board.

What I like about this book:

1) It's relatively concise. Most techniques demonstrated only take up two pages.

2) There is a very good chapter on image extraction (the reason I bought this book in the first place).

3) A good starting chapter if you've ever wanted to turn a photo into a painting.

What I don't like about this book:

1) Too much filler on techniques that have been covered in other books (see rant on color correction, above). Yes, I know everybody wants to write the complete text to using Photoshop. But I resent paying for a book where the first 1/3 is stuff that every other book covers.

2) Setting instructions are not nearly as complete as the Kelby and Ames books.

3) Target audience is below our level... this book has a tendency to talk down to it's reader. Read for example the differences in JPG and TIFF images. More filler. Sometimes I think publishers tell authors `we need a book 200 pages long'... even when the author only has 150 pages to teach you. The result is filler like this.

All in all, this book is worth the price IF you're just starting out with Photoshop or it covers a subject that you need an introduction to (painting images, for example).

Digital Photography Expert Techniques (O'Reilly Digital Studio)
Digital Photography Expert Techniques (O'Reilly Digital Studio)
by Ken Milburn
Edition: Paperback
55 used & new from $0.01

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Only So-So, November 20, 2005
I really want to like this book.

Really I do. And to be honest, it does have it's moments. But in the end, this book tries to cover too much and delivers way too much filler. You know that the author has put in too much filler when the chapter heading on page 167 is 'Basic Digital Photo Correction'.

Hello? That should have been on say, page 10.

What I like about this book:

1. A really good discussion on the use of layer masks in Photoshop.

2. A good chapter on 'Converting Photos to Paintings'

What I don't like about this book:

1. WAY too much filler. For a book targeted to expert techniques, do we really need to discuss 'Frame The Picture Properly'? As mentioned, you have to wade through fully 35% of the book to get to 'Basic Digital Photo Correction'. And the filler doesn't end there. The last 86 pages of the book (covering printing and self-promotion) aren't likely to break any new ground for our users.

2. Many of the before and after images here look identical to me. I know that Vincent Versace preaches 'use Photoshop as an emory board, not as a chisel' but this is ridiculous.

3. Despite the title, this really is a Photoshop book, not a guide to great digital photography. I suspect that the title was changed to justify the abnormally large amount of filler in this book.

4. Price. At $44.95 this book is way overpriced for what it delivers. At 467 pages it's at least 253 pages too long.

5. Too many gadgets and plug-ins are mentioned and used. These, because of their transient nature are best left to magazines, not books.

6. Dry. If you guys thought that the Ames book was dry, this one will change your mind.

All in all, get this book IF you need to learn about a specific topic. But ask yourself first if $44.95 isn't a bit much to pay for only one or two topics.

This book is in desperate need of a clear subject, a decent editor, and a readable writing style.

Hollywood Portraits
Hollywood Portraits
by Roger Hicks
Edition: Paperback
43 used & new from $12.77

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Creative Ideas, November 20, 2005
This review is from: Hollywood Portraits (Paperback)
For many of us, the artistry of Hollywood publicity photographs of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s were the spark that would ignite our passion for photography.

Who can ever forget classic images of Fred Astaire in top hat and tails, Humphrey Bogart with cigarette in hand, any of hundreds of sultry Lauren Bacall photographs?

"Hollywood Portraits" is an unusual book, in that it not only celebrates these great photographs, but dissects them and then shows the lighting setups that were probably used to create them. The book is intelligently written, technically excellent and will definitely get your creative juices flowing.

Each image not only has a lighting diagram, but is rated for difficulty in recreation. The narrative here is very useful, addressing issues as diverse as why today's health conscious models need to act comfortably around cigarettes if you are to recreate these classic images.

What I like about "Hollywood Portraits":

1) GREAT unusual subject, tackled from a photographer's point of view.

2) Written with the aim of re-creation in mind

3) Something for everybody, from simple one and two light setups to complicated recreations.

4) EVERY image is rated for difficulty in recreation.

5) Very little filler or fluff, only one page on 'lighting basics' (essentially a vocabulary) that doesn't seem out of place at all.

6) If you've been searching for a new photographic project for 2005, this one will get you thinking about Tinseltown recreations within fifty pages.

What I don't like about the book:


This one's definitely a keeper. Read it for fun, then recreate magic from Hollywood's golden years.

Lighting and Exposure Techniques for Outdoor and Location Portrait Photography
Lighting and Exposure Techniques for Outdoor and Location Portrait Photography
by J. J. Allen
Edition: Paperback
Price: $34.95
40 used & new from $0.84

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Discussions on Metering, November 20, 2005
The full name of this book is: 'Lighting and Exposure Techniques for Outdoor and Location Portrait Photography'. Whew, big title for a book.

I like this book... mostly it stays on target and provides useful, replicable information.

What I like about this book:

1) Only the smallest amount of filler;

2) Stunning images. I WANT to do portraits like JJ Allen.

3) Good diagrams

4) One of the better discussions on metering that you're likely to ever read. A good thing too, knowing proper metering techniques is vital for outdoor photography.

5) Delivers the kinds of pearls of wisdom that we buy these books for. Consider: "When using mismatched light sources, always use the light that casts shadows with the sharpest edge as your main light source."

What I don't like about this book:

Not a lot, really. Mr. Allen is somewhat of a medium format bigot, with a rather condescending chapter on what to do if you must use 35mm... You CAN still make acceptable images!

Still, everyone's entitled to their opinion and the tips and techniques that you'll pick up in this book makes it easy to overlook its' very few warts.

Good stuff, if you shoot much outside, you'll want this book.

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