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Syl Arena, Man with colourful hair and workshop leading extroidinaire has a couple of books, the one I’m telling you about today is “Speedliter’s Handbook” which is a book about how to light using the Canon speedlight system. You can find out more about Syl via his website, PixSylated.com
The first thing that struck me about Syl’s book was how easy it was to understand – I am still learning how to light with strobes etc, I love to dabble and experiment, but after a little sit down and a cup of coffee later, I had cleared up seriously about twenty questions I had in my head!
The Speedliter’s Handbook isn’t really a book you would sit and read cover to cover, it’s more a ‘pick a bit and go through it, and through it again’ What I did was made a list of five things I wanted to know more about, then used the book to research them. The book has something for everyone, and whilst it is about the Canon Speedlight, there’s absolutely no reason why someone with any other type of flash shouldn’t pick it up and check it out – there’s something about everything in there.
From how to get our of ‘the green box – auto mode’ to using various modifiers, positioning of the light source, how to choose the right sized umbrella to ganging flashes… There is SO much in this book.
Syl talks about how he’s a photographer and not a photoshop artist, so the book looks like the work of a photographer, rather than a digital artist which I found very refreshing – you don’t open the book and see these crazy polished images straight outta CS6, you see real photographs – whilst there’s nothing wrong with those crazy polished images, for me, the content of Syl’s book doesn’t scare me away from the outset… Despite Syl’s 40 years as a photographer, it gave me the feeling that I could achieve what he was teaching – bravo.
For those of you that prefer Android to iPhone (wait, did I say that out loud?) there’s a section on modding your light rather than just using what it came with. Syl shows what can be done when using a veritable myriad of random attachments to shape the light into what you want, and a great quote by the ‘Original Strobist’ David Hobby… “You have to ask yourself which you have more of; Time or Money. If you have more money than time, buy it, if you have more time than money, do it yourself.”
I’m not going to go through this book and tell you something about every single chapter (of which there are 25, over about 375 pages) The book has great visual explainations and simple tips that anyone (yep, even me!) can understand.
If you’re just starting out, start at the beginning, if you’re a master in your own lunchbox, pick a chapter – there’s something for everyone in this book…
As a Canon Speedlight user, this would be the best (if I paid for it, as it was provided gratis for this review) $25 I’d spent on learning to light. Eleven stars!