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Light: Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
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Light: Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  2,908 ratings  ·  78 reviews
An amazing (and some would say magical) resource on photographic lighting that has been talked about in the community and recommended for years. This highly respected guide has been thoroughly updated and revised for content and design - it is now produced in full color! It introduces a logical theory of photographic lighting so if you are starting out in photography you w ...more
Paperback, Third Edition, 308 pages
Published March 21st 2007 by Focal Press (first published February 26th 1997)
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Average rating 4.24  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,908 ratings  ·  78 reviews

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Aug 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When looking for books on photographic techniques I ran into a bit of a problem.. many of them were heavily focused on 'so, you want to take pictures of half naked young girls, well here is how!'. Very few books focused on anything other then 'how to make skin look good'. I was VERY happy to find this book.

This book spends most of its time going over fundamentals. Rather then give recipes for various shoots, it attempts to teach you the underlying mechanisms of lighting so you can build your own
the magical book I've ever read , I've extremely understood the reflections and how to manage them an much more , I suggest everybody wanting to go further into the matter of light and not just taking snaps , to everyone who wants to turn his journey into a melt of science and fun, it teaches you how to have fun in a scientific way. ...more
Jan 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all serious photographers.
Recommended to Billrogers by:
Shelves: photography
This is the best book I've ever read on photographic lighting. It reads like a college textbook, and I believe it is used for this purpose.

Many lighting books are "light" on theory (sorry, couldn't resist ...), leaving the photographer without an understanding of why to do things a certain way.

The authors spend a great deal of time explaining the various types of reflections and their characteristics, emphasizing the key point that most photographs are images of reflected light.

Anyone who reads
Adrianne Mathiowetz
Two philosophies broken for this book so far: I spent 40 bucks, on a book with an ATROCIOUSLY UGLY cover, which I picked it up in a CHAIN BOOKSTORE one bored afternoon. Nuts. I couldn't put it back down again and just abandon it there, like a mill puppy in a pet store -- it looked so ridiculously useful and accessibly written. "I will make your life so much better!" it promised with its weird bouncing silver balls and custard colored font. This is probably true. Guys I'm psyched. ...more
Jedrek Kostecki
Jun 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: photographers.
Recommended to Jedrek Kostecki by: David Hobby.
The greatest book on light and photography I've ever seen. An excellent guide for anyone interested in controlled light photography and very handy for anyone who's interested in photography in general. ...more
Sep 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
There's a lot of fun light info. in this book. A lot that I will never use, but it's interesting nonetheless. I especially enjoyed the breakdown of RAW and what our eye prefers to see as far as curves are concerned. ...more
I'm trying to work my way through this (I'm on chapter four), but this technical side of things is just too... technical for my taste I guess. I'm not sure what this says about my photography potential. ...more
Jul 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: photography
A thought provoking book that talks in simple terms about light and how to work with it. Literally a revelation. I will be writing about it soon on my website. More to the point it has inspired me to learn more, practice more and understand the more I know the more I need to learn.
Jan 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is more for Photographers than anything. Amazing book about what it all goes over.
Alex Netterville
This book distills everything you need to know about photographic lighting into just over 300 pages. Through repetition of key principles, and the gradual layering of more details into the example scenes at a pace that we can all cope with, it is easy to follow and full of tricks. Through clear diagrams and text, I found myself enjoying the discussion of different surfaces and how they reflect light, how small and large lights create different kinds of shadows, on to how to make perfect copies u ...more
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fotografia
Photographers need light, and this book is a sort of Bible to master the light.

Not light to read (we’re talking about light, right?), but heavily good to study and understand.

No matter your level of experience in photos, this books will help you go further.

Not perfect, but rather close...

PS: Sorry, it seems like an advertising slogan: I swear it's not
Dolha Cosmin
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Do you need to understand light? You will, after reading this.

By far the most useful book on understanding light. Plenty of examples and really useful advice. It is one thing to look at recipes videos, and quite another to get the required knowledge to light your subject, which will always be different.
Gerry Pelser
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I would not be the photographer I am without this book. This is the literal bible for anything lighting related. If you are serious about your photography, get this book, read, it study, and study it constantly.
Jason Axley
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great primer on the subtle techniques and theory for controlling lighting to get better photographs. Can be used as a textbook or lab book to practice the techniques or a handy reference for common situations.
Tim Dumol
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: photography
Fantastic treatment of how to get the perfect lighting for your shot. Starts from first principles (diffusion, direct reflection, polarized reflection) and goes through sample setups for different subjects (metal, glass, white on white, ...)
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An excellent primer on photographic lighting for all sorts of subjects from product photography to portraits to landscapes. I'm drawn towards instructional books like these, which seek to explore topics by starting from the fundamentals and building upon them. ...more
Matt Bisbano
Mar 01, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good Information

Good information from clearly qualified photographers, but the text is wordier than necessary! Overall I have gained so much from this that it is well worth the read!!
Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My editor at my college newspaper job in the early 90s told me to get this book. It is a practical course in light and shadow that I think still holds relevance for today's digital age. ...more
Jun 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If lighting is the language of photography, the book "Light: Science & Magic" is the heart of the language belaboring on grammar and vocabulary for good photographers. ...more
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great information! Now, if only I could find more time for actually taking photos...
Noha Abdelaziz
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: english
Best choose for anyone interested in photography
Elly Anne
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Perfect book to learn about lighting in photography.
Matthew Walls
Sep 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very good book for photographic lighting. It covers basic concepts to allow the reader to figure out their own lighting situations.

Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very good explanation on how light works and how to use it in photography. Really surprised me with how many tiny but very important things explained within.
Tomislav Kolar
Mar 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
this one is the key light for all those fills out there. Look no further
Dec 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
A throwback to all the engineering light physics with some very cool breakdowns of how things are lit. Will need to experiment a bit to ensure that i actually try and experiment with all these lighting styles
Jun 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The book is really fantastic.
Dec 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is the definitive guide to light and as a photographer it helped me to see and understand light in new ways. Definitely recommend it for natural light, or studio light photographers wanting to understand the science behind the magic of light!
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book on light and how it works. This is universal... it's applied physics. From this solid foundation the authors show how to light various common photographic situations.
This first edition from 1990 doesn't cover more recent developments such as digital cameras... and only briefly touches on colour film. That said - it does this concisely and does discuss colour correction of lights and lens. There were quite a few annoying editorial errors (references to wrong figures, etc.) but I as
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not well written, terrible typography, typical textbook. Redad through to the bitter end, though, because it did contain some valuable information, but finding it was like panning for gold.
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