Roberto Valenzuela is a photographer and educator who has a talent for identifying areas where photographers regularly hit roadblocks and a passion for developing clear and concise systems that allow photographers to break through those barriers and become better, more confident practitioners of their craft. His two previous books, Picture Perfect Practice and Picture Perfect Posing, shattered the mold of instructional photography books as they empowered readers to advance their composition and posing skills. Picture Perfect Lighting, the third book in the Picture Perfect series, brings that same spirit and approach to teaching lighting. With it, Roberto empowers photographers to embrace lighting as a source of creativity and expression in service of their vision for the image.
In Picture Perfect Lighting, Roberto has created a truly original system for understanding and controlling light in photography. After discussing the universal nature of light, Roberto introduces the five key behaviors of light, which are essential to understand in order to improve your knowledge of light. With those behaviors established, Roberto introduces his concept of “circumstantial light,” an ingenious way of examining and breaking down the light around you in any given situation. Providing a detailed analysis of circumstantial light, Roberto develops the top ten circumstantial light elements you need to know in order to fully harness the power of the light around you to create an image that is true to your vision.
But how will you know if the circumstantial light is enough? The final piece of the Picture Perfect Lighting system is Roberto’s “lighting benchmark test,” a brilliant method for determining the quality of the light in any given situation. It is with the lighting benchmark test that you will determine if and when you need to use “helper light,” the light that is needed or manipulated in order to “help” the circumstantial light so that your vision comes to life. Helper light is created with diffusers, reflectors, flashes, strobes, and light modifiers. Picture Perfect Lighting covers all of this in depth.
Don’t limit yourself to using only one kind of light, and don’t depend on Photoshop actions and plug-ins to create the “wow” factor in your images. That is the job of light. With Picture Perfect Lighting by your side, you will learn to master light. With that mastery, you will finally have the ability to create that true “wow” factor in camera—and in your photographs.
8 x 10in
tom24 October 4, 2018
This book is on beyond many of the ubiquitous photography lighting books you see out there. His depth of logic is paramount in relating his observations of how light behaves. I am using the very clever 10 CLEs to help my students really experience the magical clay that light is in our photographic lives. Roberto has a genius talent for photography education, may be because he is an autodidact, a virtuoso musician, and multi lingual. I own all three of his books and they are marked, folded, tabbed and post-it-ed like crazy. Thank god and Rocky Nook for Roberto, and now I gotta get to work so I can afford one of his workshops! ~TEU
Haakan (verified owner) January 26, 2019
This book provides good insight on the behaviour of light and natural lighting considerations and techniques. The examples are clearly useful in real life. Trying to learn and remember the 10 “Circumstantial Light Elements which are the basis for the book does, however, feel a bit like going back to the school bench. All in all though a valuable read to take lighting skills to the next level.
wepsphoto February 6, 2019
Valenzuela begins with an overview of the physics of light, those properties that are inherently not changeable. These are the laws that govern our medium- through applied knowledge we can learn to take advantage of them, but we’re not able to change these properties. By examining the inverse square law, reflective angles, falloff and color, one sharpens one’s sense of light’s behavior and prepares the reader for the analytical elements to come.
Part 2 is entitled Circumstantial Light- we are lead through a patient, orderly series of situations and images that illustrate the many ways that a scene can be assessed for its lighting strengths, weaknesses and challenges. This part of the book is where the reader’s eye for scene lighting grows and becomes more critical- it is arguably the best part of the book, sometimes repetitious, but determined to drill into the reader’s head the important scene analysis required of the good photographer.
We are introduced to reflecting light with modifiers in Part 3, but only after an introduction to Valenzuela’s Lighting Benchmark Test. This construct is a bit peculiar- it’s a set of rules for photographing people that establish exposure parameters that Valenzuela feels are ideal. For example, if shooting people in outdoor bight overcast/open shade, if you want to shoot at f/4 you should be shooting at ISO 400 with an ideal shutter speed of 1/500”. With this established goal, you now adjust the lighting to the correct parameters for the decent exposure. Valenzuela’s rules for exposure are a bit rigid and do not take advantage of the inherent precision and dynamic range of today’s cameras, but if you’re inclined to memorize and shoot with this model, he does a good job explaining it.
In Part 4 Valenzuela delves into “Helper Light”, or flash. It’s a major philosophical change- freely creating lighting rather than being limited to changing shooting positions and reflecting on-scene light. Of course, teaching flash has to be very generic, since every flash unit has its own set of controls, but Valenzuela does a nice job introducing the concepts of flash shooting (expanding the apparent size of the light source, selecting the most appropriate mode, etc). This chapter is the most empowering- where previous chapters limited the photographer to existing light, supplying a light source now enables control previously unattainable.
Picture Perfect Lighting is an excellent introduction to seeing, then manipulating, and finally generating the scene lighting that will shape your images.
sthsenior (verified owner) June 27, 2022
I’ve read (and purchased) a dozen or more books on lighting techniques and this is by far one of the better ones. More in-depth than many, his explanations of light modifiers along with natural light has really helped my outdoor shots.
jefforns July 20, 2022
This is one of the best books I have read on Light and Lighting. I have studied light with my landscape and wildlife photography for many years and everytime I read one of the authors book I really learn something.
But this book is different. There is so much to learn, and try to master, on flash photography and the use of diffusers and bounce light. This past week I played with some of these techniques using a full size mannequin and the results were impressive. I still don’t consider myself a portrait photographer but I sure have improved my ‘people’ lighting.
This book belongs in all photographic libraries.
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