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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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