“Lighting for Nude Photography” – by Rod Ashford – A book review

Lighting for Nude Photography, three rim lights, soft boxes, black and white fine art nude profilePublished in 2002,  ‘Lighting for Nude Photography‘ is a timeless treatment of how to light the nude by some of the finest fine art nude photographers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

159 pages in paperback, at 10.75 x 9 x 0.5 inches, is about the size of a magazine.

The first 20 pages or so are general how tos and definitions and such … for example:

What is a Scrim?

“Any kind of material placed in front of a light to reduce its intensity.”

Also in these pages are some glancing references to film types and processing… things of days gone by …  These discussions are brief, surface, not applicable to today’s digital shooting and, do not detract from the timelessness of the balance of the book.

Lighting for nude photography, back coverSaid balance is the majority of the book and is laid out in two page spreads, each of which are devoted an image of a fine art nude photograph and details of its creation and lighting.

There will be the final shot, usually in black and white, though sometimes in color.

Additionally, there will be two lighting diagrams.  One which is an overhead view of the layout, the other which is more of a side angle view.

Then there will be a description of the shot, how it was taken, and usually a ‘Practical Tip’.

Taken together, this diagramic approach with descriptive texts makes very clear the lighting used and more importantly, the often quirky secret required to get the results seen in the final image.

Ed Fox, Art Nude in Hotel Room, Natural Light

Ed Fox art nude by daylight with reflector

The lighting examples portion of the text are arranged according to type of light:

  • Daylight
  • Flash, One Light
  • Flash, Multiple Lights
  • Tungsten and other Light Sources
  • Mixed Light ( Combinations of the above )
Ed Fox Lighting diagram

Ed Fox lighting diagrams and descriptive text

I find this arrangement illuminating, as I like to see how a particular kind of light can produce results used in slightly different ways.  When lighting type and quantity are changed drastically from shot to shot in photo teaching texts, it can get confusing and somewhat overwhelming.

Photographers whose works are used as teaching examples in ‘Lighting for Nude Photography‘ include Craig Morey, Frank P. Wartenberg (his image is on the front cover, and we learn is rim lit on two sides and top using three soft boxes … ),  Ed Fox (click here for the GlamourPhotography.co book review of Ed Fox’s Ed Fox II) and about 20 others.

woman biting nipple, two women, Craig Morey, Iris and trista, Mixed light nude,

Craig Morey's mixed light nude of Iris and Trista

The quality of most of the photos are superb fine art nudes.  Thus, while ‘Lighting for Nude Photography‘ is a teaching text, a case could be made for its purchase based on the images inside … Clearly though, the layout, diagraming, and descriptive text all serve to make this a how to book, more so than a photo pictionairy for art nude photography.

woman biting nipple lighting diagram

Craig Morey's mixed lighting diagram for Iris and Trista

At last look on Amazon, ‘Lighting for Nude Photography‘ was running $15 used and $45 new.

If you like shooting the nude, this book is a great find whose lighting techniques are timeless.

Bottom line:  Get one today.

Or at least enjoy the look inside preview of ‘Lighting for Nude Photography‘ on Amazon, by clicking here.

For a listing of Books Reviewed on GlamourPhotography.co, click here.

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One Response to “Lighting for Nude Photography” – by Rod Ashford – A book review

  1. I agree this is an excellent book – I have it and it’s a constant source of inspiration.

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