I’m a big fan of the Craft and Vision books (so much well-presented information in them, for so little money), so I jumped at the chance to get an advanced peak at the latest book in their stable — Making Light: An Introduction to Off-Camera Flash by Piet Van Den Eynde.
As you’d expect from the subtitle, the eBook doesn’t get either too technical or too deep. But it does provide a well thought-out, non-intimidating introduction to the use of off-camera flash lighting. For $5, you get 63 pages of solid material.
Is this eBook for you? Well, let’s take it apart section by section to see.
1. Introduction: Please Take Off Your Flash
Piet’s sales pitch for off-camera flash, just a few pages long but a warm welcome for the wary.
2. Characteristics of Light
A discussion of the various characteristics of lighting that impact the “look” of an image, it’s probably the “thinnest” of the eBook’s sections. Still, it’s enough to get the off-camera flash beginner going (and I’m a bit of a physics geek, so I likely enjoy wallowing around in this stuff more than most would — YMMV).
3. Fundamental Flash Formulas
An excellent treatment of the inverse-square law, angle of incidence vs. angle of reflection, etc. 5 pages of explanation with well-chosen example images.
4. The Fundamentals at Work in Everyday Use
A set of “making of” images with different lighting layouts and modifiers. Essentially an extended set of examples for the material laid out in sections 2 and 3 — this time, presented in a less theoretical, more pragmatic way.
5. Basic Off-Camera Flash Gear
A discussion of flashes, triggers, manual vs. TTL flash, lighting modifiers, etc. A good presentation of the practical uses for this gear, thinning down your gear for travel, and warnings of some items that likely aren’t worth their cost.
6. Setting Up a Nikon for Off-Camera Flash: Seven Easy Steps
7. Setting Up a Canon for Off-Camera Flash: Seven Easy Steps
What — no Olympus set-up instructions? Seriously though, Nikon and Canon have captured something like 95% of the DSLR market, so this will get the vast majority of off-camera neophytes going. Besides, if you’re an Oly shooter like me, the set-up is so simple you don’t need an eBook’s help ;-).
8. Shooting Pictures with Off-Camera Flash: A Failsafe Ten-Step Approach
Living almost up to its name (it’s really only got nine steps…), this section lays out a fairly straightforward approach to setting up a shot lit with off-camera flash. Good information on how to tweak your setup to get exactly the look you want.
9. Nine Cases
Definitely my favorite section of the book, this takes nine example images that Piet made on his travels (and from the looks of things, Piet really likes to travel!) and shows / tells you how they were made. Given that Piet tends to travel by bike, they’re all done with simple portable lighting gear. So even if you’re not planning a trip to Java any time soon, this will show you what you can accomplish without needing to buy or lug around a van full of gear — just a camera, flash, and some simple / cheap light modifiers.
C. Conclusion: And Now… It’s Up To You!
Your call to action, and a bonus “making of” image.
Since this eBook is written as an introduction to the subject, a good bit of this material is available here and there on the internet for free. But Making Light pulls it together for you in one convenient, easy to follow eBook that’s better written than much of the free material, and less likely to get lost than a collection of hyperlinks. If you’re just getting started with off-camera flash, it’s a good value for the money and I’d highly recommend it.