Friday, October 21, 2011

A New Book In The Works & I Need Your Help!

Good Afternoon Everybody,

I've got some great news for everybody today.  I just had a meeting with my good buddies at Kelby Media who published my first book, “Captured By The Light”, and guess what - I just got the OK for my second book, "Make Your Lighting Exciting".  And I’m stoked!

Here is where I need your help.  I've got a rough outline laid out for the book but I would sure like to get input from our loyal readers in case I missed anything.

Let me show you what I've got so far.  Here is the super rough draft of ideas and it targets all photographers, not just wedding photographers..

Make Your Lighting Exciting:

0046-Kelby - Hope and Ben-IMG_8121- The characteristics of light

  • Small Light source
  • Large Light source
  • Hybrid light sources

- Do brands make a difference - Light is Light

- What kind of lighting and when to use it:

  • For brides
  • Larger groups
  • Character studies
  • Lighter skin vs. darker skin tones

- Why understand lighting ratios:

  • Contrast control
  • Specular vs. diffused highlights

Pretty In PinkIMG_9528-Edit- Make your lighting exciting:

  • Lighting for mood
  • Lighting for beauty
  • Lighting for dramatic effect

- The right lighting for your lens choice

  • Wide angle lens, what kind of light
  • Telephoto lens, what kind of light

Hot To TrotIMG_1830- Light sources

  • Shoe mount strobes
  • Off camera portable strobes
  • Studio lighting
  • Continuous output lights

- Using lighting to create shadows

  • Shadows for backgrounds
  • Shadows for dramatic effect
  • Shadows to hide defects
  • Shadows to create dimension
  • Shadows to flatter the subject

- Lighting gear that doesn't break the bank

- Easy lighting setups to get great results

- Reflectors made easy

0006- Perfect PortraitsIMG_2219- Telephoto reflectors, or how to really throw the light

- Everyday items that make creative light sources

- Creating your own "shoestring budget" lighting studio

OK, What do you think so far?  I'd sure like to hear from our readers with any additional ideas and topics you would like to see covered.

How About A $50 B&H Gift Certificate For Your Thoughts?

I'll tell you what I'll do.  Everyone who submits an idea or topic will be eligible to win a $50 Gift Certificate from B&H - how about that for a little incentive;~)

I can't wait to see what you come up with.  Please leave all your suggestions in the Comment section below with your name.  In a few weeks, I'll review the ideas to date and see what we've got and then select a winner. 


Hey gang, that's it for me today.  I've got to get ready for my program tonight at the Orange County Photography Center.  It looks like we've got a full house and I'm really looking forward to visiting with everyone this evening.  I sure hope you can make it and please be sure to come on up and say HI.

We head out tomorrow for Northern California for my Napa/Sonoma Experience beginning Sunday evening.  So over these next few weeks, I should have some pretty exciting images to share with you.

Have a great weekend and I'll see you bright and early on Monday morning from Wine Country.



  1. Light Modifiers That Work

    How about a section on the light modifiers for your small flashes that help shape, soften, or modify the light?

  2. On-camera flash without assistants — I know you've covered some of this material briefly in your last book, as well as some blog videos. For those just starting out (no budget, no help), I believe this is important information.

    Since the book seems to be more about lighting and general portrait photography (instead of mostly focused on wedding photography), can you speak to doing some of the work without having help/assistants?

    Kent Cabreira

  3. As a new photgrapher the first problem I have is stopping and, before I snap the first shot, understanding what I am trying to do. In other words, where do I begin with my lights? I think, for a beginer like myself, a check list of a sort of where to start and end. This would slow me down because I get excited and start shooting away and after the first half I hour I discover I haven't used anything I've learned yet. So, I guess what I'm saying, a check list or procedures one might work thru so not to feel like you are trying to catch your balance before you take your first image.

  4. Mixing of light sources, outdoor fill flash.

  5. How about "Shooting in low light conditions (when you can't use a light source) " , " When to use just Ambient lighting " and matching the Ambient light.

  6. David,

    I'm excited you will be putting out a new book. I really enjoy the way you write so whatever the content of the book ends up being I will buy a copy.

    That being said, for content in the new book I'd love to see situation based advice. What that means is I'd love you to discuss in detail how you make light exciting in the basic situations most photographers will find themselves shooting. For example, how to make light exciting when shooting:
    - outdoors in direct sunlight
    - outdoors when the sky is cloudy
    - outdoors with the subject in the shade
    - indoors in a room too large to bounce light off the walls or ceiling
    - indoors in a room with black or colored walls/ceilings
    - different methods for shooting without an assistant
    - and so on

    You covered some of this in your first book in chapters 3, 4, and 6 plus sprinkled liberally throughout other chapters in your book. I'm suggesting covering these topics in more detail.

    There are an abundance of books that cover the basics of lighting: hard light, soft light, large light source, small light source, gells, various light sources (flash, strobe, LED, etc), light modifiers of all types, wireless firing, light ratios, etc, but there are fewer sources that cover, in-depth, the practical application of using accessory light in common situations.

    The practicality of your first book is what made it so appealing to me. You didn't just say stuff like "you'll want a variety of lenses". Instead you wrote 18 pages on the different lenses you use, why you use them and how you use them. In comparison, I have another popular wedding photography book by a well-know wedding photographer whose entire discussion of wedding lens selection consisted of a few paragraphs (less than a full page discussion). It is the depth with which you explain and discuss each topic that makes your book such a valued resource.

    Your engineering mind, photographic expertise, and great writing skills make you the natural choice to write the definitive bible on the practical application of accessory light.

    Just my .02 on the topic.


    Richard Gibbens

  7. David, outstanding news! What a way to end the week! Congratulations!

    Just a few thoughts:
    Under "Do brands make a difference?"
    If space permits it would be informative to include not just flashes & strobes but also lighting tools such as reflectors, umbrellas, stands, etc.

    Under "Light sources"
    Specialty lighting such as ring flash
    Considerations when using a fish-eye

    Use of modifiers such as the snoot, grids, beauty dish

    And a couple of random topics
    Do you really have to overpower the sun?
    Slimming down your subject
    When HDR makes sense

    Again, congratulations!
    Can't wait!

  8. Finding the Light Outdoors
    - Looking for the best place to set up.
    - Shooting around the clock.
    - Harnessing the sun to work for you.
    - Shooting in the elements (Snow, Rain)

    Finding the Light Indoors
    - Working with existing ambient light.
    - White balancing difficult setups.
    - Gelling flash to blend with ambient.
    - Exposing for ambient when flash is available.

    Moving with Light
    - How to quickly set up and tear down a lighting situation.
    - How to travel lightly but be prepared for all scenarios.

    Creating Digital Light
    - Using Lightroom and Photoshop to enhance a scene.
    - Fixing lighting issues in post.

  9. David,

    A lot of your lighting seems to be "on location" lighting. I would love to see what your suggestions for in the studio lighting would be. Just a thought.

    Andrew Griffith

  10. Hi David, Congratulations on getting the go ahead for your second book. If it's anything like your first it's going to be great.

    Just wondered if you'd consider a couple of additional topics: Gels and White Balance techniques (to correct WB issues and also to be creative with WB).

    Best wishes,


  11. Using the color temperature of the light source to your advantage

  12. David,

    You touched on it briefly but I have trouble lighting large groups evenly and cleanly. I would like some in-depth info on how to set up and light large family portraits, bridal wedding parties and such. I struggle with this, particularly outdoors when I try to shoot big groups with their backs to the sun. Also, how do you handle shooting weddings outdoors under gazebos with dappled light? This has given me fits and I would love to hear your solutions.
    BTW, I absolutely loved your presentation in Brea last night. The info was great, and then to be able to go home and watch the giant stack of tour dvds is really, really helpful. Plus, I won the OnOne Photo Suite door prize, so I feel like you paid me to show up! Thanks so much for all you do!

  13. How about lighting for black and white?

  14. I would love to see a chapter on tricky lighting, not necessarily low light. Low light, mixed lighting, there are a lot of times when the light gets tricky to work with.

    Thanks for the chance to give some input.

  15. I guess a very important chapter could be to find good light. We so often speak about "find the light" but at the end no one tells you what it is and where does it hide :-) For example indoors: where is the line between nice light and bad light. Hope that makes sense.

  16. Hi, David! How about a section on how to balance backlighting with your off-camera flash...especially outside? Very few people can pull it off is usually brighter than the know, kind of like using the sun as your hairlight! Good to talk to you...Ann Nester

  17. Here's another one. How to light for bigger venues, how to balance that lighting, and how to make the most of what's already there.

    There are a lot of ways to do it, but how to explain it while making sense?

    Thanks again for the input, and for sharing your secrets!

  18. David, I think it would be nice to add a section or chapter to the book that has a number of tips/tricks/techniques a la Neil Turner ( And I'm sure you can add a few of your own too!

  19. I think it's time to include a discussion of new technology such as The "Color Checker Passport" to perfect color output and improve workflow in Lightroom.
    And also, the new ETTL and iTTL Pocket wizard "Mini TT1" and "Flex TT5" Radios
    (for those of us who can't afford or desire a Quantum Flash). Can one off camera Speedlight really give you the light you want TTL? Do you need more than one? When would you need to use this system in non-TTL mode? Will you have enough power or recycle time with a speedlight? What if you use a Zumbrella with the speedlight? Will the "Flex" System ever be updated to manage a Quantum Trio?

  20. David, look forward to your new book, though I love your videos. With the explosion in 1080p HD video DSLRs, I'd love to see your thoughts on simple interview or wedding lighting using one or two lights, reflectors, and other simple modifiers. I know it's a whole separate field, but most of us are now shooting with HD capable camerasand would like to get our feet wet.

  21. That all sounds fantastic!

    I might ask that you share how you assess a scene for exposure. Not just where you want the light to come from and why, but an initial starting point for flash output, f/stop and shutter speed.

    Also, when and whether to use a light meter?

    You take such beautiful sunset/evening shots, anything on color balance (gels, wb setting, etc...)


  22. Hi David...Having just returned from your 2011 Fall Master Class I now find myself opening up Bridal Magazines and looking at the pictures...It's like I have you in my head..."how do we flatter a "not so skinny bride?"" Why are they taking her picture straight on? Where is the "s" curve in that bride? loop lighting WWDS? (what would David Say? LOL) and it goes on and here it goes...

    Why not a chapter where you actually show pictures of model's, brides (maybe taken from actual bridal magazines) where in your opinion there are learning points i.e there is no flattering and the lighting is not exciting? The reader could then be challenged to then come up with the posing points that jump out to you as being deficient....I will never be the same...having learned from the Master....thanks again! Anthony R. Romano

  23. Perhaps you could include ideas on how to enhance a background with a light, whether by using colored gels, cookies, the Fresnel projector you promised yourself you would build, etc.

    You've also shown how you lit an arched doorway behind a couple to frame them, and you could include other examples of how to enhance an environmental background with selective lighting.

  24. For now the only things that I think you should talk about in the book is how to take photographs in bright daylight to get the subject and background well exposed and also how to shoot with strobe on and / or off camera mixed with continuous light from a video light for example

  25. Hi David,

    first of all, I read you first book and learn a lot about wedding photography from you. You are a great photographer and also a great teacher.

    For you new book:
    Everyone who owns good equipment and has good Photoshop skills can create Wow-Photos to impress Bride and Groom.

    What about a section on how to really make a difference as a Wedding Photographer. I am thinking about:
    - using awesome light equipment (other than 'normal' speedlites) such as Quantum Instruments Qflash and the differences in the quality of the photos,
    - using 'non-normal' lenses for special photos or
    - any other technique that might be applicable in order to differentiate from other Wedding Photographers that do only "the basic"

    Let me know you thought, I look forward to your feedback.

    Take care.

  26. David,
    under your "Make your lighting exciting" section, maybe a chapter on "Lighting for special effects"! Using gels (or your Z-ray) and how to set camera WB settings for best results.


  27. Hi David,
    Please include the following:
    a) using flash light to kill ambient light to get directional light from a single direction
    b)using natural light only for people who may not have access to expensive light
    c)Info on which gels to use for the strobe. Which minimum ones to buy
    d) How to use the off camera flash with built in wireless transmitter if we cannot afford Pocket wizard.

    Best Regards
    Manish Das

  28. David,i think it is good to add chapter about how to enhance your light in photoshop/lightroom.

    Also, it would be nice if you write about how to deal with different light source in one picture. e.g. sun light and florance ... mix and different temp

  29. David, I read your blog all the time. I really like your images. In your new book have a section on how you post process your images from start to finish.

  30. David, how about tips on nailing the serendipitous candid shots (unposed), shooting the details creatively and how to capture, and not miss, the photojournalistic aspects of the day as it unfolds. Love the blog and follow it religiously. Can't wait for the second book!

    Best wishes!
    Ven McAndrew
    St. Joseph, Michigan

  31. It would be great to offer a link to some of the images used in the book to work along with when explaning techniques used in Photoshop or Lightroom.
    Mel W
    FYI I have no idea how to use any of the ID's other then Anonymous! Would like to see a link to explain how to actually use my email address when commenting.

  32. Lighting older people. Lighting that looks great for a smoothed skin young bride may not look good for a 50+ grandmother.

  33. As an event photographer I mostly work in outdoor settings or fairly well let buildings, but not always.

    I work alone for the most part or I would use the off camera flash technique from your last book David. My subjects are in motion so I will have trouble at times lighting them the way I would like.

    So what tools or techniques could I be using to help me create better images?

    Thanks David!!