When I began exploring night photography, I found a handful of instructional books that were inspirational and informative. The fact that I still love reading them is a testament to how great they really are.
The first two books I purchased simultaneously. Although I knew quite a few night photography and light painting techniques already, these first two nonetheless had a profound impact on my philosophical and general approach to night photography.
Night Photography and Light Painting: Finding Your Way in the Dark (second edition), by Lance Keimig
Well-written and informative, this is a worthy second edition that seems largely rewritten. The history of night photography is still there, and still absolutely fascinating. The book covers astro-landscape, long exposures in moonlight, star trails, light painting, light drawing and post-processing for night photography with an emphasis on Lightroom Classic, although the tips for post-processing can obviously be done in Photoshop or other programs as well.
Lance also includes other photographers and their images, their personalities and approaches adding to the book’s vibrancy overall. The book, even more than the first edition, offers a comprehensive look at the many facets of night photography, managing to cover it in one book.
And yes, of course, the photos are mesmerizing, beautiful, fascinating and gorgeously executed. It includes lots of scenarios and technical information about night photography. And that’s what we want, isn’t it? Get your copy >
The first edition is worth it, too
If you’re able to find the first edition, that’s a great choice too, as it has a slightly longer first chapter on the history of night photography. The second edition is mostly rewritten, making the two editions complement each other well. The history section in either book is enthralling. I found the descriptions and considerations to be fascinating, and was especially interested in Carlos and Miguel Vargas, two brothers who operated a commercial photography studio Arequipa, Peru from 1912-1927 and made exquisite long exposure moonlight exposures with sophisticated, theatrical lighting from moonlight, lanterns, bonfires, flash powder and street lamps.
Light Painted Night Photography: The “Lost America” Technique, by Troy Paiva
This incredible eBook describes Troy Paiva’s pioneering, bold light painting techniques very clearly. It’s easy to follow and understand but very detailed.
Although for the past several years, the author has used ProtoMachines, the book tells how the author created his eye-popping lighting effects with handheld flashlights and a speedlight. It discusses his general approach toward creating images and offers a lot of “real world” advice for beginners and veterans alike.
The book has many photos with very readable captions describing the thought process and techniques behind the photos. It also discusses post-production techniques. Readable on any smartphone, tablet or computer, and at just $10, is a bargain. Unfortunately, it is more challenging for him to autograph it for you. Get your copy >
Night Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots, by Gabriel Biderman with Tim Cooper
A great introduction to night photography, including basic compositional approaches, camera settings, gear and “walk-throughs” on how he achieve some of the images, which serve as beautiful illustrations throughout the book. Gabriel’s enthusiasm and encouragement shines through in the book. And like the first two books, this also offers settings and post-processing tips and techniques. Get your copy >
Boneyard: SoCal’s Aircraft Graveyards at Night, by Troy Paiva
Each photo caption also offers the camera settings, although this book is not a tutorial. There’s also a couple of pages describing his technique. The book is crammed full of amazing photos of abandoned airplanes in boneyards. Get your copy >
I hope you get as much out of these books as I did!