Friday, 20 March 2009


As well as the main rashbre site, I write an occasional post across on 'rashbre snapped', which is about photography. So with some pleasure I received a parcel through the post upon my return to the UK, and within it a book about an aspect of photography. With all my evening and night shots at this time of year, perhaps its also a hint to me?

The topic is about Light.

The book is covering an aspect fundamental to photography, but as I read and thought about it I realised how much I didn't know. Quite often when I obtain reference books on varied topics, its a quick flick through to find some new points, or to help solve a particular problem. This was different because I could gain new information from most chapters.

As well as covering the theory of light and colour spaces, it moves into ways to manipulate or take advantage of light to handle different situations.

Its a heavy book to carry at some 500 pages, but its well divided into sections and has comprehensive areas around lighting, reflectors, tripods, stands, flash, post-production and indoor and outdoor work. Even the little section on light incidence at times of day and in different seasons is useful.

I guess a more experienced photographer may have most of this knowledge, but for a more casual snap-shotter like me its a strong reference by professional people who have obviously learned by experience.

The authors, Brian and Janet Stoppee have film camera heritage but work digitally now, and in addition to the sections on post-production with Adobe and similar, there's a strong emphasis on getting it right in the camera. SOOC as I call it (Straight Out Of Camera).

The second part of the book takes many topics across a simple two page spread format, which is a handy way to browse, whilst also keeping related topics together as a narrative.

If I have a criticism, its of some of the actual photographs that make it into the book. My guess is that the book was quite a long time in production and may have been two books pushed together or has had some sort of makeover. There's some signs of this with a few early pictures that suffer from heavily jagged edges - presumably from small originals. There's also sections that are quite polarized towards a particular product set around Nikon cameras and Matthews Stands and Lighting equipment. I happen to use Nikon so its no big deal and the points made are applicable to pretty much any dSLR combination. My guess is that perhaps the book was originally destined with a different title or similar.

For me, the sections around light placement, metering and colour temperature all had good 'Ahah' moments and thats just scratching the (shiny) surface of what for me is a good reference volume.

Photography and Light - Brian and Janet Stoppee - Focal Press 2009 - well worth a look.

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