Book Review: Digital Photography School’s Natural Lighting
For the majority of photographers, we first learned to shoot our cameras using natural light from the sun as our main light source. There is a very good reason for that. It’s already there and it’s free. Some of us would eventually venture off to using off camera lighting, while others would continue to use natural and available light.
Of course, because natural light is so readily available, it is also easy to discount it. To make things easy, a lot of us tend to just stick with the whole “shoot during the golden hour” rule.
A lot of us, myself included, would probably think that a book about natural lighting would not really teach us anything that we don’t already know. But this book’s practical approach of understanding and harnessing natural light as a creative tool makes it a great read for new and seasoned photographers. I even found myself looking at natural light just a bit differently after this great read.
“There is no good or bad kind of light, just the right or wrong light for what we are trying to communicate.”
– Mitchell Kanashkevich in his interview with Digital Photography School
Digital Photography School’s new e-book called Natural Light: Mastering a Photographer’s Most Powerful Tool was written by freelance travel and documentary photographer Mitchell Kanashkevich. His photos can be seen in many top notch photography magazines, Getty Images, Corbis Images, book covers, ad campaigns, and private photo collections around the world.
The great benefit of having someone as accomplished as Mitchell as the author is that this book is filled with National Geographic-caliber images. These are not some standard fare photos by any means, and we ended up enjoying the visual feast just as much as the actual content.
There are seven chapters in the book, and each successive chapter builds from the last chapter. This makes it easy enough for a novice photographer to go from learning how to understand the influence of natural light to knowing how to get the most out of any type of light.
The chapters can be grouped into three sections. The first section of the book covers the role of light in our images, how we control exposure with our camera, and what kind of post-processing we can apply in order to make our images look more true to life.
Once you are comfortable with the basics, the rest of the book is about learning the different light conditions and working with each type of lighting to effectively and creatively communicate your vision with your photographs. This is my favorite section of the book because it breaks down each lighting scenario into practical and easy to understand segments. The book describes what is going on with each lighting condition, the kind of challenges you can face, how to overcome those challenges, and how we connect to that light visually and emotionally. This is a really great go-to guide for whenever you need help getting the most out of a certain type of lighting scenario.
Whether you are shooting in twilight, midday sun or morning fog, the guide has an answer for you.
The book also explains how to work the natural light by diffusing, directing, or reflecting the light. You can do this by working with your environment, such as placing your subject under a shade, or with portable tools such as a pop-up reflector.
Finally, Mitchell provides several case studies with his own photos, and explains his thought process and approach to shooting that particular scene. It’s a great way to understand how someone with his vast experience applies the knowledge in this book in order to capture some truly amazing photographs.
Natural Light by Mitchell Kanashkevich and Digital Photography School is a great read overall. Each chapter is well-thought out and easy to follow. The book has the right balance of theoretical and practical content, and the way Mitchell breaks down the lighting into something more tangible makes it easier to understand how to harness natural light as a creative tool.
And the best part, the images that Mitchell has in the book are simply mesmerizing. It is easy to understand why Mitchell is a master with natural lighting.
The downside to most e-books and online educational content is that they generally carry inflated price tags when compared to comparable books at your local book store. The fact that this e-book only costs $20 is yet another factor that makes Natural Light such a great value and easy recommend. So whether you are just starting out in photography or have some experience under your belt (or camera strap), we highly recommend and give Natural Light: Mastering a Photographer’s Most Powerful Tool 5 out of 5 stars. You can purchase a digital copy from Digital Photography School’s website for $19.99.
To see more of Mitchell’s work, you can visit his website and Facebook: