Book Review: Studio Lighting, A Primer for Photographers by Lou Jacobs, Jr.

Studio Lighting, A Primer for Photographers by Lou Jacobs, Jr.Wouldn’t it be great to just shoot outdoors in natural light and not have to lug around a ton of lighting gear? Can’t we just shoot indoors with ambient light and not worry a whit about studio lights? Can’t I just shoot what I see and be done with it? Wish that it were so.

Unfortunately, unless you’re content with your snapshots or you’re a genius with available light, ordinary mortals can only take decent photos with a proper understanding of light. And studio lighting provides the perfect environment to study light because in the studio you can exercise full control on the effects of light on your subjects.

Studio Lighting, A Primer for Photographers by Lou Jacobs, Jr. gives you a good start to study studio lighting. You’l get acquainted with stuff like electronic strobes, tungsten “hot lights,” reflectors, umbrellas, softboxes, seamless paper and a lot of other things besides.

The book introduces the novice to studio lighting by first focusing on the whys and wherefores of setting up a studio, why you need one and what it entails.

Lou says his book will show you how to best use a studio space – whether large or small – in a spare room or garage, or temporarily set up in a living room where you must rearrange the furniture before you can begin your shooting session.

The book also delves in depth on lighting for still lifes and products, good for those wishing to go into product photography whether for eBay or for those glossy magazines.

I wished there were more photos and diagrams showing the positions of the various light sources – there were just barely a handful all throughout the book – but the author perhaps felt it was more meaningful to show the effects of various lighting techniques on the finished photos and just have the text explain where and how the lights were situated.

It’s a good book, though, lots of excellent examples of how good photos should be lighted. After reading the book, one gets a fuller understanding of the effects of light on portrait subjects sitting for a photo shoot in a studio; and after understanding these things in a controlled studio setting, one gets a newfound confidence to shoot outdoors, whether taking photos under natural lighting or with the aid of some studio equipment like strobes, reflectors and diffusers.

Now, I can shoot outdoors.

Studio Lighting, A Primer for Photographers by Lou Jacobs, Jr., Amherst Media, 8 x 11 inches, 124 pages, $29.95 USA, $44.95 Canada


About the Author
Contributing Photographers

About This Book
Now What?

1. The Makings of a Studio
Studio Advantages
A Studio at Home – Adapting Small Spaces, Daylight Indoors
Professional Photographic Studios – My Temporary Studio
Studio Costs – A Portrait Studio, An Advertising Photography Studio
Outdoor Studio Arrangements – Portraits and Products in Shade

2. Camera Equipment
Cameras – Film Cameras, Digital Cameras
Lenses – Zoom Lenses, Single Focal Lenses
Films – Color Temperature, Film Speeds, Negative Films, Slide or Transparency Films
Filters – Primary Filter Needs, Filtering Lights
Last Words

3. Studio Lighting Equipment
Tungsten Lights – Tools and Techniques, Hot Lights, Floodlight Bulbs and Reflectors, Quartz Lights, Spotlights
Electronic Flash – Watt-Seconds, Studio Flash, Camera-Mounted Flash Units
Meters and Flash Accessories – Continuous Light Exposure Meter, Flash Meter, Radio Remote Units, Guide Numbers, A String Exposure Guide

4. Modifying Light
Hard Lighting
Softer Lighting – Reflectors and Fabric, Umbrellas, Softboxes

5. Backgrounds
Fabric, Paper, Etc.
Seamless Paper
Custom Backgrounds
A Rolling Background Rack – Materials Needed, Assembly

6. Exposure for Flash and Hot Lights
Basic Metering
Flash Meters
Exposure Compensation – High Key, Low Key
Exposure for Different Media – Negative Films, Transparency Films, Digital Exposure
Lighting Ratios
Lighting Advice

7. Lighting for Still Lifes and Products
Preparations – My Lighting Choices, Equipment
Found Objects
Still Life for a Wine Ad
Kitchen Still Life
Still Life Treats
Your Turn – Selecting Your Subject Matter, The Positive Power of Still Lifes

8. Basic Portrait Lighting
Some Facts of Light – Motivations, Light and Shadows, For Inspiration
Metering Techniques – Hot Lights, Flash Guide Numbers, Studio Flash, Remote Flash Firing
Lighting Terms and Practical Tips
Portraits – Series One, Series Two
Lighting Two People
Hands and Face Variations
Lighting Experiments

9. Photographing Groups
Groups Are Not that Different
Posing Options
Group Lighting Variety

10. Image Gallery


Published by Chris Malinao

Chris teaches Lightroom as workflow software to photography students at the FPPF, Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation. He also teaches smartphone photography.