The Master Lighting Guide for Portrait Photographers is a very good book, the only thing keeping it from being a great book is the fact that 90 percent of the portraits are of single subjects. This is fine if your core business is High School Seniors or Composites of some sort, but maybe not so great for family or group photographers. The lighting styles are fun and some are a bit new and different. Many of the Lighting Patterns here are the old stand-bys of Butterfly and Rembrandt and the like, but these are classics that have to be covered in any book on portrait lighting.
For me the most interesting bit of info is about Christopher Grey’s Reverse Cookie, which is a light modifier made by placing broken mirror shards onto a three by four piece of plywood and them bouncing light off of it onto a background. The patterns are random and organic, but you need a more powerful background light than the one I have to make it work. Many of the lightening techniques call for several lights of one sort or another that I don’t have laying around. Of course, being a photographer, I am always looking for an excuse to buy one more piece of equipment I may never use.
The copy of Master Lighting Guide that I bought has the pages jumbled out of order, which is a bit of a bother when reading about how to adjust the f-stop and the next page is twenty pages away. Its still a good book, just a bit more work to use than it should be. Maybe mine was the only misprinted edition, or maybe not.
In addition to the Reverse Cookie author Christopher Grey is also fond of using 8×4 foot white foamcore taped along one edge and used to bounce light around. These Bookends are cheap and easy to use, especially when compared to comparable sized reflectors and stands that would do the same job.
Many of the lighting effects at first glance look like lighting mistakes. Overexposure, lens flare, harsh shadows, hot spots, and just weird patterns on faces. But if used sparingly, and not solely for a sitting, they make for a dramatic change from the normal flat lighting most people are used to it assembly line portrait studios.
The Master Lighting Guide for Portrait Photographers is a well done book, each lighting effect is accompanied by a lighting diagram which shows exactly how to recreate the effect in your own studio. The text gives details on how each shot was taken and what the photographer was thinking as he moved from standard lighting to more experimental lighting. One of the books weak points is where there are pages filled with the same basic lighting, with only minor adjustments made. To me at least, many of these adjustments were so minor as to not warrant mentioning.
As with all such books, I like reading them and looking at the picture, but I am a creature of habit and tend to fall right back into my normal routine once I have a subject in front of my camera. This is good book, and if I can work a few of the lighting effects into my settings, they should help my sales.