Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Captured by the Light

When I want to learn about something, the first thing I do is read stuff in the internet related to the topic, then I buy books and magazines to read about it. Photography is no different.

When I started to shift my focus onto portrait photography, I looked for books that would be able to help me with posing subjects, lighting, etc. But, as with some of my endeavors in life, I started out with this on the wrong foot.

I thought that I made the right decision with buying a certain book but it turned out that it wasn't a big help for me because:
  1. It would have required me to buy about a hundred speedlites (I may be exaggerating, but not by a lot).
  2. There were no illustrations on how the shots were made. It would have been much easier to learn about posing and lighting if there were illustrations on how the shots were made. It is learnable, but not that easy.



Another thing that turned me off about this book, which shall remain unnamed, was the smug way the author wrote the book. I would like some humor every once in a while, but come on, I would like to learn about photography so I want that to be the focus. And the last straw was the way the author seemed to ridicule Canon shooters. It's just a brand, I know, but I don't want to be ridiculed for buying one brand over another.

As I was saying, I want to get serious about portrait photography. It seems that it is a lot easier to photograph landscapes and buildings (trust me, it is not) because they won't be able to complain if you shot them in a bad light or at a bad angle. But shooting people is another thing altogether. They can spot that the lighting is wrong, or the pictures are yellowish (wrong white balance), or the shots are out of focus. So, I wanted to hon my people photography skills.

So I bought David A. Ziser's book Captured by the Light.

This is a great book. There are illustrations on how to light up your models and the angle between the lighting and the camera position as well as pictures that accompany each illustration. He will show you how to shoot people at certain situations and even how to make do with what you have in hand (using the shirt of the best man to serve as reflector is one of my favorite). He shows a step-by-step procedure on how the shots were made and he was very patient (and generous) in showing his techniques. And since this is a photography book, he talks about composition and framing. The book is, first and foremost, about wedding photography so he guides you on how to prepare for weddings, what to shoot before, during and after weddings, and also what and how to photograph the reception and after.

David doesn't require you to splurge on tens of thousands worth of speedlites nor does he require you to get the most expensive lens out there. He recommends the best lens for certain situations and situations where even the Canon 18-200 lens will shine. He also uses the current work-horse lens that I have, the Canon EF-S 17-85mm. This is the first book I have read where you are not told to buy an "L-lens" to improve your shots. I know the quality of the pictures will be improved with high quality "glass" but first one needs to know where to put the light and where to put the subject in the shot.

There are a lot of beautiful photographs in the book and the book is meticulously written.

I highly recommend this book for those starting out with portrait photography and for those who wants to start out their wedding photography business. I hope someday to have my own studio and to shoot weddings. David's book is a great place to start and it will accompany me down the road.

And him being a Canon shooter yet doesn't belittle shooters of different brands is also a big plus.

Captured by the Light: The Essential Guide to Creating Extraordinary Wedding Photography

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