My favorite passage from Benjamin Edwards' new book is:
"While I certainly recommend that you read your camera and flash manual at least once, most of us find the best use for an owner's manual is as a sleep aid. Technically written and devoid of user experiences, manuals leave out parts like, 'Oh yeah, this works sometimes, but when it doesn't, try this.' That's where this field guide becomes your best friend."
How true. We've all seen the sea of "Field Guides" on photography bookstore shelves. They are valuable reading when your included equipment manuals leave much to be desired. I would have been hard pressed to call any of them "inspiring" in the past, but Ben's latest creation takes a fresh approach. It opens your eyes to what can be done with speedlights and gets you excited about using them for a change! But wait, there's more.
The book includes an overview of all the current Nikon speedlight options, what the (sometimes) cryptic custom settings mean, and how to get the most from them. It's amazing sometimes what you discover about equipment you already have in your bag everyday! For example, did you know that you can put Nikon's SU800 infrared TTL controller on a PocketWizard TT1/TT5 setup and get full wireless power control of your remote flashes – without the limitations of line-o-sight signals? And, you gain a low-light focusing aid. Sweet (pg. 146).
After a very thorough coverage of basic through advanced flash features and techniques, Ben provides a whole section on setting up a portable studio using speedlights and affordable accessories. Yes, you can really create a great studio setup with speedlights alone...I've seen Ben shoot with them in his studio and it's truly amazing what he creates with these versatile little pocket pals! (Not the furry things you stick on your finger).
Finally, and the best part of all, Ben gives real world examples of a variety of lighting setups – from portraits of pets to people to prime rib that will make you drool. He documents how he did it, and shares his extensive on-location experiences. These are examples you can actually learn from and use for your own creative projects.
Oh wait, I lied. That wasn't the best part. The best part of the book, and the thing that makes it REALLY stand out from most other "technical" manuals I've read (and I geekishly read a lot), is Ben's imagery. His photos are gorgeous. The book is worth putting in your library for the images alone. The education is truly a bonus. Tip: supplement your book reading with more of Ben's images here.
Although this book is about Nikon flash systems, I think it would be completely valuable to anyone looking to improve their off-camera lighting in general. It's perfect for those new to using speedlights and looking for ways to do professional work with minimal equipment. It's full of universal lighting education and inspiring imagery to make sure any photographer can "see the light".
Check out Ben's site for more images and book info.