Author: Bob Davis

Publisher: Wiley

Review by Conrad J. Obregon

When reviewing a technical book, one always has to keep the skill levels of the reader in mind. This was particularly important in reviewing Lights, Camera, Capture: Creative Lighting Techniques for Digital Photographers because this book is aimed at the novice photographer with little or no knowledge of the use of flash in photography.

After an introductory chapter telling the reader that to be a good photographer, one must be particularly attentive to light, the author explains the quality of light and the basics of exposure. He next discusses basic lighting equipment including flashes and light modifiers. Next Davis explains the basic camera modes like aperture priority and shutter priority and flash modes like through-the-lens and manual flash. After these foundation explanations he discusses how to control the light and finally how to apply it. Each of the illustrative images is supported by a lighting diagram.

All of these explanations are of the most rudimentary nature and seemed more designed to make a beginner comfortable with using flash than trying for any special effect, even though the author’s illustrative photographs were occasionally quite dramatic. By the way those photographs seemed to be selected from a minimal number of shoots, which were also used in the accompanying DVD, which the reader can skip. The first several tracks seem like a promotional video for the author or perhaps for his workshops. When the DVD finally got down to teaching, the points paralleled and duplicated the chapters of the book, but with very low production values. For example, many scenes were shot in a classroom where the author would tell the students to look at his laptop monitor rather than the projected image and where there was no view of the laptop screen. In fact, rather than showing us screen grabs, the DVD showed us images projected on a slightly wavy screen behind Davis.

Most lighting books explain the relationship between multiple lights, e.g., main, fill, hair and background. Davis does not. This information is not essential for a simple lighting book, but it can prove useful to understanding light and modifier placement.

The author often talks about controlling lights from a single position. I would not expect a book not devoted to a particular brand of speed light to provide detailed instructions for controlling remote lights, but a little more of an overview of the kinds of capabilities contained in the major lighting systems would have been appropriate.

Bob Davis provides a lot of nice images in this book, and the photographer who has never experimented with flash may be induced to try using flash to enhance pictures. Most other photographers would be better off with a more detailed book.

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