Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Book Review: The Hot Shoe Diaries

It is quite possible that I'm the last person on Earth to review National Geographic Photographer Joe McNally's amazing new book, The Hot Shoe Diaries: Big Light From Small Flashes. However, since I'm currently enamored with this incredibly informative book, I thought that I would take a risk and say my part in case there are those of you out there who also find yourself behind the curve on the latest literary releases. Surely, I can't be the only one, can I???

With the exception of some of my macro photography work, I have traditionally relied on natural light for exposure. However, after reading The Hot Shoe Diaries, my eyes have been opened to a wide array of techniques that I can't wait to try out. I initially purchased the book because I had become interested in learning more about ways to create strong environmental portraits of scientists, researchers, and every day folks who were an integral part of the stories that I covered. I really didn't have much of an understanding about what the latest flashes were capable of. By reading Mr. McNally's informative –and often very funny– work, I've gained much more than just knowing how to make a pleasing photo of a person.

The techniques in the book are in the Strobist school of thought which relies on using several small flashes (in this case Nikon Speedlights) to light a particular scene verses a larger studio style light kit. Books on lighting can often be so cumbersome and dull but this one is really enjoyable and easy to comprehend. I really appreciate the author's willingness to be so open with details about how he makes an image.

I have no doubt that this book will make me a better, more capable photographer. This is a pretty bold statement but I believe it to be true. I really do enjoy shooting in available, natural light but there are sometimes when that can be limiting (and detrimental); especially when dealing with tight deadlines and poor ambient light!

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