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Review: Making Light by Piet Van den Eynde

How To Guide To Flash Photography

This is my second review of a Craft and Vision ebook and the first that I've read that wasn't written by David duChemin himself. I had high expectations from the publisher and overall my impression of this book was positive. It covers all the basics of off-camera flash including equipment, how to do it, some lighting theory, and set up for both Canon and Nikon systems. Essentially, it's a how to guide to flash photography for beginners. The author, Piet Van den Eynde, shows examples with different set ups and also shows how to get by with a minimum of gear which is a plus for those that can't afford all the fancy stuff.

Calculating Exposure For Flash Photography

The book starts off with an introduction; who the book is for, and what will be covered in it. Chapter two is about light: size, quality, direction and color. For those that like theory and the physics behind the “how” of things, that's a chapter for you specifically. Formulas for calculating exposure for flash photography (flash and ambient light combined actually) and the inverse square law of lighting are explained and how you can apply them to your lighting.

Flash Setups & Gear For Flash Photography

A lengthy chapter goes into different flash set ups and the affects they have on a portrait. The next even longer chapter is devoted entirely to gear: manual vs TTL flashes; brand names vs 3rd party; triggers of various kinds; light modifiers and accessories. Almost 1/4 of the book is on equipment, but it is covered very well and anyone just starting with flash will get a lot of buying tips on what to get and what you can get by with in a pinch.

Setting Up For Canon & Nikon Off-Camera Flash

Chapters 6-8 go over setting up Canon, Nikon and the general set up for off-camera flash, which the author claims is “fail safe”! It's detailed enough for anyone new to flash photography to follow and gives tips to those already using flash.

Create Light With Minimal Gear & No Assistants

He finishes the book with 9 cases or examples. Some show his set up and his camera and flash settings, which helps the reader to put it all together and see the resulting image. The stories that go along with the images are interesting in and of themselves, and seeing how he creates really great lighting with minimal gear very simply – is encouraging for someone that doesn't have $1000's to invest in flash equipment, and 4 assistants to help carry and set it all up. In fact he even shows one image where he asked a passer by to hold his flash for him!

Small Criticisms

I have two small criticism's

  • He mentions the sequel to this book (coming soon) a total of 12 times in this book! I read about that in another review, so I was looking for it and actually counted them all. I think it's a little excessive to plug a future title that many times. If your content of the first one is good, and your writing style engages readers, then simply mentioning it once would suffice and people will naturally want to read the follow up title. Mentioning it so many times makes it seem that the author is a bit desperate and insecure, in my opinion.
  • Very little coverage on the subject of direction of light! The one subject I feel he has missed covering really well is direction of light and how to use it to make portraits. It gets about 2 paragraphs in Chapter 2, and I feel it's important to go into more detail because the whole reason to get your flash off-camera is to control the direction it comes from and how it hits the subject.

To summarize, Making Light, An Introduction to Off-Camera Flash by Piet Van den Eynde is a good value (like any of the Craft & Vision titles) and has great information for those new to flash photography (speedlites/speedlights) or wanting to get some tips and tricks on off-camera flash. For $5 you can't really go wrong with Making Light or any title in the Craft & Vision repertoire.

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  • Hi Darlene, thanks for this thorough and honest review. I just wanted to clarify something about my mentioning the follow-up to this eBook in the first.
    Of course, part of the objective of mentioning a sequel is to arouse interest in that sequel. You’re right about that. However, there was another, more compelling reason: off camera flash is a pretty ‘broad’ topic, and it’s very easy to overwhelm beginners with too complex things. So, I wanted the first book to focus on the more essential things, and the follow-up on the more advanced topics.
    There was just too much information to squeeze into one C&V title, so the choice was made to break it up into two titles, and breaking it up by level (beginner vs intermediate) seemed like the most logical choice. However, maybe I should have just stated at the introduction that a number of topics were going to be treated in a sequel, instead of hinting at that throughout the eBook!
    With regards to the other comment about the direction of light: it’s true that I don’t explicitly go into much detail on that, although I reference it in the beginning and in cases 1 and 2, where I contrast soft light from above with hard light from below. I also talk about ‘raking’ light (simulating late afternoon sunlight) in the case ‘The Stoned Cyclist’… So, I’d say the information is there, between the lines.
    There will be some more reference to direction of light in (warning: this is another hint at the upcoming ‘Volume II’ ๐Ÿ™‚ ) the next and final eBook on this topic, where I will be talking about using more than one Speedlight, and I will discuss things as rim-lights etc…
    However, the books weren’t meant to cover all possible studio lighting setups… Actually, a great thought for another C&V title ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Darlene

      Hi Piet – thanks for commenting on my review, I’m very honoured actually! I do agree that something at the beginning of the book to say there will be a second one with more advanced information would have kept the mentions inside the book down to a minimum. It just sounded too much like advertising when it came up over and over again. Then perhaps say it again at the end of the book. Later once the second title is released, do you plan on changing it to actually give the title and link to it? That would make sense.

      I teach an Available Lighting class through a local camera store, and one of my main concepts I teach first is direction of light and how it plays off of the subject, in particular the human face. I actually think it is a key element to know before you go adding flash even and why I recommend people start with Available Lighting first to learn the concepts and THEN add in some flash or studio strobes. One of my students said he had bought lights but returned them because it was too confusing, but after taking my class felt he had a much better grasp on lighting and may try lights again in the future.

      Perhaps another title? Or if there is another Craft and Vision title about that topic you could mention that one. Just an idea. I know that I find many beginners use flash incorrectly and the reason they do that is because they don’t understand why to get it off-camera in the first place – that direction of light is key!

  • An excellent review and great to see an author actually following up on comments made. Both of these things have made up my mind to actually buy both ebooks, even though I do use off camera flash extensively – there is always more to learn!

    I do understand where Darlene is coming from regarding starting with available light and understanding it’s direction and quality – Darlene, why not write your own ebook for C&V based upon your experience of teaching the subject? I’d buy it. Also I’d buy Piets book on lighting setups! So come on guys, get your fingers pushing those keys!

    • Darlene

      Thanks Jim, a good idea. I actually have a different ebook in the works right now but something to add to my list. Thanks!

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