Light science and magic, an introduction to photography lighting

A review of one of the best educational photography books I have ever read. This is a book with solid rock information, totally different than all other books on lighting, a whole different approach and it is brilliant. The author succeeds to explain extremely well how light behaves and how it affects the appearance of textures, shapes and surfaces. It is not an easy or fast read. You have to engage both sides of your brain, since paying close attention to the images is as important as carefully reading the words. But it’s well worth the effort, and the reward is a new, different way of seeing the light and its behavior. It will really help you to create better photos.

I regularly consult this book. Amateurs, as well as professionals will find in it a treasure of useful information and insights.

Photography is painting or writing with light and a photographer who knows how light behaves has the ability to use available and artificial light or manipulate it to create the images he wants.


Most chapters include many exercises, things you should try yourself. These exercises will really help you to understand how to use and manipulate light.

Chapter 1: How to learn lighting

The author explains how to use his book, why he has chosen the shown examples and exercises. He also gives information about the equipment you need to perform the exercises in the book.

Chapter 2: Light: the raw material for photography

The properties of light are explained into detail, how and why the photographer should understand the light in order to take good images. Photography is all about capturing the light and the quality of this light is more important than the gear you use to capture it. It is the light that sets the mood, not the camera.

Chapter 3: The management of reflection and the family of angles

Various materials and surfaces reflect light in different ways and by placement of the light you will get different results. Knowledge about the angles light is reflected in will help you to avoid or manipulate (unwanted) reflections.

Chapter 4: Surface appearances

Material surfaces and boundaries will appear different in different lighting setups. Concepts from previous chapters are used to explain the appearance of textures under various conditions.

Chapter 5: Revealing shape and contour

Adding depth and 3D appearance into 2D images by the use of shadows and surface detail. How to bring your images alive by revealing shapes and contours by the use of different light sources and angles.

Chapter 6: Metal

Taking pictures of highly reflective objects like metals can be quite challenging. They are one of the most difficult objects to take photos of. The author gives you detailed information about reflection on metallic (shiny) surfaces and gives you ways to reveal surface detail in different lighting setups.

Chapter 7: The case of disappearing glass

Just as taking pictures of metal, glass and other transparent materials need a special approach. Two main techniques in photographing glass are explained, while a special section deals with the problems that arise when photographing glasses or bottles filled with liquid. Glasses act as lenses and will cause big problems for the inexperienced photographer.

Chapter 8: An arsenal of lights

The use of multiple lights, placement, intensity, balance and light characteristics to create the light and mood you want.

Chapter 9: The extremes

Lighting approaches towards high- and low-key photography.

Chapter 10: traveling light

Deals with flash photography and ways to manipulate these light sources to obtain the desired results.


This book is different and amazing because it tells about light in a way other books don’t. It gives a box of secrets and direct examples to become a better photographer. It is really a master-class and will lift your photography to higher levels.

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