Capturing Light: The Heart of Photography – Book Review

Capturing Light: The Heart of Photography by Michael Freeman
Focal Press
Price: $20 to $30 in USA (Internet and retail)

NEGRI capturing light cover

In this exhaustive analysis of different types of natural light, the British photographer Michael Freeman illuminates essential principles that will have you looking for photographic subjects in a different way. His thesis in this lavishly illustrated book is that to capture the best light you need to do three things: wait, chase the light, and sometimes help nature with gear, like diffusers, that have been around a long time.

You can wait and plan if you prefer shooting at sunrise or sunset, when light is soft and shadows are long. You can also chase the light, by which Freeman means you hunt for unpredictable occurrences, like a burst of sunlight at the tail end of a storm. A knowledge of what the light will do, combined with serendipity and sheer luck, can turn an ordinary photo into fine art, as Freeman demonstrates throughout the book.

Capturing Light is not a how-to book. It does not tell you what kinds of cameras or lenses to use, nor does it recommend apertures, shutter speeds, and ISO settings for different conditions. Rather, Freeman explains in a series of short essays what light does under different conditions. You will learn, for example, there are more shades of gray than you ever imagined, and see how mist or rain or fog changes the quality of the image and the feeling it conveys.

The heart of photography, as the title says, is all about capturing light, but good photos are also dependent on the photographer’s observational skills. If you find your photos are filled with power lines and ugly parking lots, you will learn a lot from reading these short essays and studying Freeman’s photos. He will quickly have you observing scenes from a different perspective.

While Freeman is a very accomplished professional photographer, the voice throughout this book is that of a modest individual not given to hyperbole or ego trips; a refreshing departure from similar titles that are too often driven by personality.

Capturing Light is a book that serious amateurs will return to repeatedly for its inspiration and functional insights. The book is highly recommended.

MyMac Review Rating is 9 out of 10


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