Monday, 2 June 2008

Interesting Book: The Photographer's Guide to the Studio

I recently came across an interesting lighting book in my local second hand book shop. It's written by Roger Hicks and Frances Schultz and is called The Photographer's Guide to the Studio.

It's basically a complete guide to studio lighting, for animate and inanimate objects. The works!

There's two main sections, I guess it'd best be described as. The first contains five chapters:

1. Why Studio? - a short chapter looking at why you might want to do studio work, both for amateurs and professionals.

2. A Studio of your own - describing all the important things you need to know if you're contemplating setting up a studio of your own.

3. Your camera in the studio - where cameras, lenses and camera requirements are discussed. This section shows the book's age, with no mention of digital cameras. However, the information is often still useful and at least of interest.

4. Studio Lighting - a chapter looking at different types of lighting (tungsten vs. flash etc.), available modifiers, and other equipment in the studio.

5. Accessories, backgrounds and props - looking at other stuff in the studio which is less directly related to the lights, such as backgrounds, posing stools/tables/etc., props and so on.

Moving on to the second section, which in my opinion is the most interesting section. It is titled Getting the shot you want, and is exactly what it says. It divides into sub-sections which are each about four or so pages long, covering all sorts of studio photographs you might want to do, and giving advice and examples.

The sections are:

- Male adult portraits
- Female adult portraits
- Nudes
- Couples, friends and groups
- Subject supports
- Children and young people
- Fantasy and fashion
- Close-up and copying
- Still life
- Flowers
- Jewellery
- Pack and product shots
- Glass
- Food
- How-to and step-by-step
- 'Exploded' pictures

Most of those are obvious. The last two might be a bit confusing without explanation though. How-to and step-by-step is looking at studio photography for how-to books which shows each step in a process. This is looking at lighting which works well for a number of different shots for a consistent look, without having issues of moving lights between each shot because things have changed. Similarly, the 'Exploded' pictures section is looking at making studio photographs which demonstrate how products go together. Think of a pen - the top clicker section, the spring, the ink cartridge and the bottom section which screws to the top - all exploded out for a photograph. Well, this gives you hints and tips for doing it.

Last of all, there's an interesting little Appendix entitled "Deconstructing lighting" which looks at figuring out the lighting in photographs based on shadows, highlights, catchlights etc.

Given that the book was published in 2002, it does show its age a bit. The photographs aren't all that modern looking, and camera related information is entirely film oriented. However, if you can get past that, there's some really good information about the one thing that hasn't changed in 6 years - light!

If you're looking for a one-stop shop for studio lighting that will give you a guide whatever studio shot you're putting your lens towards, you could do a lot worse than this book.

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