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Book Review: Speedlights & Speedlites

April 29, 2010

Speedlights & Speedlites – Creative Flash Photography at Lightspeed

Lou Jones, Bob Keenan, Steve Ostrowski

At Amazon:

I finally got around to sitting down with this book. It’s right up my alley, since I’m always out to learn more about camera lighting, both big studio stuff and portable. The book focuses on Canon and Nikon Speedlights, and Speedlites 😉 If you are perplexed about how to use your dedicated electronic flashes, this book just might get you going.

Technical yes, a little bit, but not so over the top so as to make you feel like a buffoon. I think it’s very well suited to serious beginners. And trust me, you don’t have to be that serious! Genuine interest will suffice. Advanced amateurs and even pros who never quite understood the speelight stuff will benefit here too. There are examples of quick One Light, Two Light, and Multiple Light setups. Pros, don’t cringe, but there is a little Red Eye discussion. Hey don”t laugh. You’d be surprised at how many who take money for photography have no clue.

In addition to form and function of the lights themselves, there are good example shots with lighting diagrams. Everything from corporate to a goldfish in a plastic bag. My only complaint was, why not put the lighting diagram on the same page or facing page? Other than that, the book was nice and did help expand my knowledge base when it comes to these new fangled gadgets.

The book is injected throughout with both technical and practical definitions, and there is a decent dose of good humor too. And there are “War Stories”, those little anecdotes that can only come from practical experience. These are the things you won’t learn anywhere else.

Many  tips and tricks here. For instance, did you know that…

Touching battery contacts with your fingers as body acids and oils can damage the contacts.

You’ll never look at your AAs the same way again.

And some el cheapo DIY stuff is here too. For instance, taping sheets of white letter size paper together to make a nifty diffuser. I’m going to have to try that out. Never thought of it. I’ve used a ping pong ball on my Leica D Lux 4, but never letter paper for the Nikons.

What I really enjoyed was that two of my favorite rules were right upfront in the book

1. Separate. Get those Speedlights off camera.

2. Bounce. If you can’t separate, bounce It. Bounce it anyway.

The authors have also included a few examples of vintage advertising with flashbulbs and everything. Boy I think I remember seeing those ads 😉

All in all, this book was a very good read, and I’m glad it’s on the shelf and available for future reference.


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