Light – Science and Magic, Second Edition : An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
by Fil Hunter, Paul Fuqua
Focal Press

This is a very unusual book. You should not read it if you do not like textbooks. In many ways it is a brilliant book. But you really have to make an effort to read it. But when you do (and if you go through some of the exercises) it will give you a tremendous insight into how light works, how light interacts with different sort of material (e.g. how reflections are different on different types of surfaces), and what you need to do to get the effects you want. You really have to make an effort to get through it but if you do I think it is immensely valuable. It will not tell you “tips and tricks” (put the light here and the reflector there and it will be OK) but it will teach you how light works and then you will be able to figure all out for yourself. It is a very solid, fundamental, thorough (and boring sometimes) book on the theories and practicalities of light and matter. Reading it feels a bit like being back in the physics lab at school. Which is perhaps not surprising because it seems to be written as a photo school book. A brilliant book on light – but certainly not for everyone.

This is what Amazon says about it: “This highly respected text, now in paperback, has been thoroughly updated and revised. It introduces a logical theory of photographic lighting — one that teaches beginning photographers to predict results before setting up lights. This is not primarily a how-to book with only set examples for photographers to follow. Rather, Light: Science and Magic provides the reader with a comprehensive theory of the nature and principles of light to allow individual photographers to use lighting to express their own creativity. Numerous photographs and illustrations provide clear examples of the theories delineated within the text, while sidebars highlight special lighting questions. Although styles of photographic lighting continue to change, Light: Science and Magic does not go out of fashion because it is not based on style; rather it is based on the behaviour of light. These principles will not change until fundamental physics does.”. The person who recommended it said: “It’s good because, with the fundamentals firmly grasped, you can think about what you’re trying to achieve photographically and devise your own lighting setups.”

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