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If you’re looking for a book that takes you through the mysteries of natural light, shadows and highlights … this is not the one.
Instead, it gives:
‘Expert advice on the basics of on-camera and off-camera flash photography. Professional guidance on choosing flash equipment and accessories. Advice on setting up a photographic studio in the home. Tips on postprocessing techniques to get the best results from flash photography.’
And not a moment too soon for many people. Let’s face it, flash is one of the most misunderstood and misused technologies in photography. Bar none!
And then again, you wouldn’t put a raw amateur into a situation where he or she has access to a battery of studio lamps. Even more chaos.
The book’s chapters:
The help begins in the first chapter by spelling out the basics of flash: Guide numbers; on camera TTL; the inverse square law explained; reading a histogram; white balance; the RAW format explained; using on-flash colour gels. And we’ve only touched on the basics.
Although the book is relatively small, I was surprised at the depth of info passed on within its pages.
By the time we reach the second chapter we begin to learn how an on-camera flash is set up, power output, battery needs, operational modes, use of diffusion and bounce operation, shutter sync etc.
Matters get even more serious when author Harrington explains ‘Getting the flash off your camera is one of the best things you can do to advance your photographic skills.’ Hear, hear! He goes on to describe the various accessories such as boom arms, flash umbrellas etc. One very useful section recommends using a dummy styrofoam head (purchasable from art supply stores) to run test sessions on how to light a portrait.
Actual off-camera flash shooting situations are discussed and mention is made of some interesting devices which may help: such as Radio Poppers and Pocket wizards that can fire your flash from a distance with no need to use a connecting PC cord.
Also touched on are convertible flash umbrellas: these can be used in a reflective style or in shoot-through style; when used as originally intended, the former can deliver ‘beautiful contrasty light …’, while the latter allows you to shape light ‘and add or subtract softness.’
The degree of detail in the book is admirable and, IMHO, would take the photographer up a notch or two in skills level.
With each chapter there are multiple illustrations to support the text of sufficient size and quality that you quickly see what the info is all about.
Another chapter on choosing lenses will be of help when expanding your optical arsenal. Take heed: ‘buy the best you can afford until you can afford better.’
And then, right in the middle of the book is the sage advice that ‘Film is not dead.’ This is supported by the advice to play around with fun film cameras like the Holga and its ilk.
Creativity is foremost in the book’s pages, with ideas on how to extract the utmost, even when flying with one engine, or even one flash and one reflector.
An important factor in any photography and most especially with flash is post processing; the book deals with file formats and software choices and then gets into detail on white balance as ‘one of the main reasons photographers shoot in RAW format.’
A pair of pop out hint cards at the back of the book suggest the maximum shooting range, f stop, shutter speed and ISO setting with varying flash Guide Numbers.
All in all, a very useful, pocketable guide book.
Author: R Harrington.
Publisher: Ammonite Press.
Length: 192 pages.
ISBN: 978 1 90770 875 6.
Price: Get a price on Photographic Lighting at Amazon (currently 23% off).