Book Review: Picture Perfect Lighting

Let’s get this over quickly: Roberto Valenzuela is a heckuva portrait photographer but more importantly he’s a brilliant communicator who is just as comfortable taking you inside how he creates his striking images as he is giving you the theory and concepts of why he does it.

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 9.20.55 AMPicture Perfect Lighing is filled with three kinds of photographs: There are the behind-the-scenes shots (and some of them will surprise you by the environment in which they were shot) along with shots illustrating lighting theory as well as the aforementioned finished images.

Mr. Valenzuela will immerse you in the theory and design of his lighting theory—don’t miss then informative section on lighting vision vs. lighting style—as well as proving insights on lighting behaviors, something you won’t find in most books on lighting. And he applies these theories to both the use of natural and artificial light that includes everything from studio lighting gear to speedlights. And while the section on speedlights is a bit Canon-centric, plow though it and you’ll find something that applies to your own camera system.

A word about the book design: Impressive. This is a high quality production with maybe the best interior and page design I’ve seen in a photography book in a long long time. Reproduction for the most part is excellent although some of the how-to images are not up to the levels of the reproduction quality of Mr. Valenzuela’s portraits. And while I am not a fan of using mannequin heads for lighting how-to’s I recognize it may be the only way to get consistency even if the results are less interesting than using real people.

PP.booksThe book is an interesting mixture of applying what may appear complex lighting theories and concepts to produce stunningly beautiful images and at times seems like a cram course in lighting. Believe me this is a lighting workshop in a book. I was most impressed with the last part of the book, “Putting it all together” that provides in-depth case studies of several shoots. The author has said this is the last book in the Picture Perfect series, the others being Picture Perfect Practice and Picture Perfect Posing, but I would love to see an entire book based on his case studies.

If you’re not happy with your portrait lighting or just want to dig yourself out of a lighting rut, pick up a copy of Picture Perfect Lighting

  • Picture Perfect Lighting
  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Rocky Nook
  • ISBN-10: 1937538753
  • ISBN-13: 978-1937538750
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 8 x 0.7 inches
  • Amazon Prime price: $30.32

Author: Joe Farace

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