The just out in paperback “Shooting in Sh*tty ‘Shitty’ Light: The Top Ten Worst Photography Lighting Situations and How to Conquer Them” by Lindsay Adler and Erik Valind is one of the finest, easiest to comprehend books on shooting in available light I have seen.
Just so you know up front, it is pretty much only directly applicable to shooting of people as subjects … If you are shooting landscapes or macro, etc, this is not the book for you.
This is a smallish 8 x 9 inch book that is less than 1/2 inch thick… At 240 pages, it is just about the right size to get the job done well. I’ve read it pretty much cover to cover. It is an easy blend of text and images and captioning that reads easy, informs quickly, and gets the point across well.
Ok, really, what makes it all that good?
Many photo how to books tell you what the “right way” to do something is. This right way only approach does not really help one to know what the “wrong way” is we are trying to avoid… So, we usually fall into it cause we didn’t know not to do it the wrong way… or even how to recognize what the wrong way might be.
In a nut shell, know right is of little use, when undifferentiated from wrong.
“Shooting in Shitty ‘Shitty’ Light” shows improper lighting usages first… Explains the issue. Then it shows you how to improve the shot through application of light modifiers, a simple flash or flash with flash modifier, and or proper placement of the subject in whatever light that is available.
So we can see how a photo looks in conditions when done wrong. And, we get to see the same image, properly modified, and how much better it looks.
The only piece really missing is a finer discussion of what good light on the face looks like versus bad light on the face. You will still need to learn or know that else ways.
It does show you how to pick the best light, placement, positioning and modifiers for a wide range of available lighting conditions… including:
- Bright Sun – find or make shade or tilt the head
- Indoors – an opportunity for color correction
- Mixed light – pick the light, or over power
- Overcasts – reflectors, use of overhangs and scrims
Do you know the difference between open and closed shade? “Shooting in Shitty Light” will tell you… or you can ask me in a comment if you want to save the $15-35 bucks on a book… cheap! And, you still won’t know all the other tricks… If you don’t know this stuff, buy this book.
I like “Shooting in Shitty ‘Shitty’ Light” and recommend it highly to photographers shooting in natural light any people as subjects… ie, portraits and models and the like.
For the most part, it has just the right amount of text/discussion/description to help you know why and what’s happening and how to fix it… And, unlike many of its competitor titles, most of the example how to/how not to photos are captioned, so there is great clarity on what is happening where and how.
If you don’t know this stuff cold, and you want to shoot people by available light, with maybe only one flash and some modifiers, you’ll be glad you bought this book.