Book Review: Light - Science and Magic, An Introduction to Photographic Lighting

Light—Science and Magic, An introduction to Photographic Lighting
by Fil Hunter, Steven Biver and Paul Fuqua
3rd Edition, Focal Press, 2007

“What we do have to offer you is a set of tools. This book is about technology. Science … Learn about light and the science. The magic will happen.” —Hunter, Biver & Fuqua

This is the indispensable guide to photographic lighting for photographers at all stages of their craft.

My first impression had been, “Just great, exactly what I don’t need, one more lighting cookbook,” and I avoided reading it for years because of what I thought was a hokey title. Well, you know what they say about the fallacy of judging books by their cover.

“Light –Science and Magic” explains not so much where to put lights as how photographic light works the way it does, and how that determines what type of lighting modifier to use and where to put it. That knowledge in turn leads to an understanding of how to quickly and repeatedly create and use, or even just find, great lighting for studio and location work, from products to portraits, from architecture to events.

“All the world’s a stage,” Shakespeare wrote, and that is doubly true in photography, a constructed word which made its first appearance in 1839 and has linguistic roots in the Greek words for light and writing, and is handy term to describe a theater of the frozen visual gesture. Your productions need a great lighting designer, and since lighting is a skill you can learn, this book is a fine place to start. Applying the principles in this book will definitely take your game up a couple of notches, no matter where you are in your career, and whatever tools you use to create light.

—Ellis Vener


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Comments (3)

It certainly is a great book. Well worth the money if you're serious about lighting for photography.

Steve Hovland:

When anyone asks about photography books, this one is the first one I mention. "Total Picture Control" by Andreas Feininger is also high on the list.

This book is great resource for any photographer looking to truly understand light. I have an older copy of it, and am glad to see they've come out with a new edition (making it more accessible).


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