Thursday, June 10, 2010

Book Review: Bob Davis' "Lights, Camera, Capture"

Hello students and fellow followers. A few weeks ago I got my copy of Bob Davis' new book Lights, Camera, Capture - Creative Lighting Techniques for Digital Photographers. I had hoped to dive right in and consume the book over the weekend, but as often does, life happened and I didn't finish the book. However this week I resumed my devouring of this book and here's a little review for your consumption.

This book comes out hot on the heels of another book that I thought just knocked it out of the park - David Ziser's Captured by the Light. Both deal with the issues of off camera lighting, but David's is centered around wedding photography (although the topics can be applied to any situation) and Bob's is centered around practical situations (although the topics can be applied to wedding photography).

Both authors are Canon shooters, as am I, so both were really helpful to me, but both go to great lengths to explain Nikon's solutions as well. Both are real light on theory (thank goodness) and real heavy on practical applications. Both use personal shots as demonstrations that both teach and inspire, and both have a section dedicated to gear and what's in their bags (really helpful). Usually, one reads a book and then meets the author, but in both of these cases, I was privileged enough to take workshops under both of these guys and then read their books! So in fairness, I may be biased on both counts!

So let's dive into Bob's book. I pre-ordered this book MONTHS before it hit the presses, and due to my teaching status got it before it hit the shelves of my local bookstores. I was dying to get my hands on this book, and it doesn't disappoint!

First Impressions:
The book is beautiful. Well laid out and easy to read, and the photography is, of course, stunning! Bob is a laid back, hip, stylish, extremely nice, eager to help, Christian man - and it shows in his writing as much as it does in person. And it's all those reasons that he's been an idol of mine from the first 5 minutes I got to know him. Bob photographs the superstars (Oprah, Eva Longoria, etc.) and he's never once not replied to an email, tweet, or Facebook message in the four years I've known him. Now if I can just get him to come down and let me host him and his lovely wife while they hold one of their Love Story Workshops on the Outer Banks of North Carolina..... But I digress....

The book has sample photos as I've mentioned, but each photo has a recipe settings and complete EXIF data so you can see exactly how the shot was captured. This is an unbelievable tool to help you in training.

The book is primarily to teach beginners the advantages and options of flash lighting techniques, but I believe almost anybody could get something out of the content. I think I learn something new from Bob every time I purchase one of his materials or hear him speak - so there! There's an introduction, a chapter on Understanding Light, Getting the Basics Right, Lighting Equipment, Getting the Most From Your Lighting Kit, Controlling the Light, Creative Lighting, Traveling Light, A Glossary, A Collection of Websites Worth Visiting, and a DVD full of additional info and training. The DVD is a semi commercial, but I swear it's almost worth the price of the book itself.

The only one I can come up with (but it did annoy me to death) is that most of the time the recipe and EXIF data for the photo and/or any additional info Bob wanted to point out about the photo was usually found on the next page (or several pages later) and I had to constantly flip back and forth. I wish it had been at the bottom of the picture or on the facing page.

The book was so worth the wait. The positives really outweigh the one negative I had. The way he writes is easy to understand and each and every page is filled with remarkable images one can't wait to go out and try for themselves, putting his/her own artistic twist on it. I have adopted the book as a standard for my photography classes, so my students will get "carry home notes" packaged in a nice book!

There have been a lot of really good photography books come out in the last few years, and this one is right there among my favorites!

Good Job Bob! So when are you and Dawn going to let me host you at the Outer Banks?

Happy reading everyone,


Dawn Davis said...

Totally wonderful review Chris!!! Thank you for taking the time to be so detailed. Bob and I appreciate your support. Hopefully, one day we'll get to take our workshop to the Outer Banks!!!

All my best,

~ Dawn

Haven said...

Awesome blog.