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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

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  2,224 ratings  ·  72 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 ...more
Paperback, Third Edition, 308 pages
Published March 21st 2007 by Focal Press (first published February 26th 1997)
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Average rating 4.27  · 
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 ·  2,224 ratings  ·  72 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
Feb 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2010
I think this is a must have as well. I am still reading this by plucking information from each chapter when needed. This is not the kind of set down and read from front to end text book which is good. You can the information you need from the chapters you are interested in. I need to purchase this one too. There is a lot of information on how to use natural lighting and set up lighting for outdoor/indoor settings. I am only beginning to understand how complicated indoor light is (w/film). Of ...more
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ...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.
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, ...)
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.
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.

Elly Anne
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Perfect book to learn about lighting in photography.
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.
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.
Noha Shawqi
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Best choose for anyone interested in photography
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.
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great information! Now, if only I could find more time for actually taking photos...
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
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.
Jan 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is how light behaves and how it changes the picture.
It covers basic principles to understand the lightning of pictures.
Since the book focuses rather on principles than on certain situations(allthough it uses some cases to illustrate what has been said) it is a book that had a very high value for me.
It helped me to "see light" in photos. I received an understanding about how light behaves.
Although the lightning I use ain't perfect at least now I understand what went wrong or I come up
Christopher Craig
Dec 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in photography
Photography is the art of capturing light, so a book on how to apply light is vital to a working knowledge of photography. This one provides terrific insight into how photographic lighting works, including ample example pictures and diagrams of how lighting setups affect the picture.

The reason I don't give it five stars is that well over half the time a diagram is a page turn away from the reference to it in the text. For a reference book it is extremely bothersome to have to continuously flip
Feb 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Best book on lighting I've seen. Based around the physics of light (but don't let that put you off)and how light behaves on different surfaces. It demonstrates how to light a series of different objects including glass and metal. After reading the chapter on glass I immediately set about experimenting and produced the best pictures I've ever taken of shiny transparent things. The style is simple and written in the style of a simple textbook. A joy to read with plenty of simple diagrams. If you ...more
Oct 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since I am somewhat new to serious photography, this book was my introduction to making light work for, rather than against, me. To a more serious photographer, this might just fill in some basics. While the authors suggested this book does not have all the answers, it sure gave me a head start in the right direction. Once I get a good understanding of these fundamentals, I can elaborate on my own and with my own devices. I will say this book is most applicable to studio photography, but there ...more
May 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is the most comprehensive book I ever read on the subject of light, how it works upon surfaces and how surfaces and textures respond back at it.
It can be a little overwhelming at first but it is worth it after a while. It might be specially important if you're a photographer who mainly works in a controled environment (such as studio) and wants to better understand how to control the lights upon their photography.
It's a great book even if you're not into photography and just have a deep
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