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New book on lighting for indie budgets and film students

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Hello all,


I’d like to get the word out about my book, which is coming out this month.


I have been teaching lighting at Fairleigh Dickinson University for the past 12 years and while there are some excellent books on cinematography out there, such as Film Lighting and Reflections, I never found one on lighting that was directed towards film students and cinematographers who were lighting with limited resources. My students found those books inspiring but not immediately applicable to what they were doing on the films they were shooting. I started as an AC, then become a best boy, gaffer, video LD and indie cinematographer and worked on so many different kinds of productions with so many different budgets that I was able to developed a course that was a good foundation for young cinematographers to help guide and inspire them to do creative lighting on a budget. Two of my students have gone on to be accepted into the AFI cinematography program while other students of mine are now working as electrics, gaffers, ACs, camera operators and one is a great steadi-cam op.


At a film teachers convention I was approached by an editor from Bloomsbury Press and asked if I would write my class into a craft book that could be used by other colleges and budding DPs. I said I would if she promised they could keep the price down to under $30 – as I know how expensive textbooks can be and how few students will actually buy the expensive ones. While this means I would get a tiny royalty, I didn’t really care, because I wasn’t doing it for money – but rather as a way to give back. I learned so much from so many, it is our obligation to pass on the art and craft that we learned and love. She agreed.


The result is "Lighting for Cinematography: a practical guide to the art and craft of lighting for the moving image", now available from Bloomsbury Press and Amazon. Lighting for Cinematography, the first volume in the new CineTech Guides to the Film Crafts. Broken down into 14 chapters with exercises at the end of each, the book is designed to help the reader create lighting that supports the emotional moment of the scene and contributes to the atmosphere of the story. Chapters cover such things as lighting for movement, working with windows, night lighting, lighting the three plains of action and non-fiction lighting and include stills and lighting diagrams from indie budget productions.


also my website www.lightingforcinematography.com

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Thanks James. I hope you enjoy the book and get some ideas from it. I'm sure you'll get a kick from the interviews in the appendix. I asked a wide range of cameramen and gaffers the same questions and used their answers as quotes throughout the book. The first appendix of the book has all their answers, so its fun to compare them. The talented lighting folk who were so generous to share there thoughts with me were


David Mullin, ASC – DP, feature films and TV series, IATSE local 600


Peter Stein, ASC – DP, feature films and TV movies, IATSE local 600


Gus Dominguez – Lighting Director, Reality TV, awards and game shows, IATSE local 600


Joseph di Gennaro – DP, low budget feature films, IATSE local 600


Elia Lyssy – DP, documentaries and low budget features


Ray Bribiesca – award winning 60 minutes & 48 hours cameraman, IBEW


Tigre McMullen – gaffer, Reality and Sit-com TV shows, IATSE local 52


Bill O’Leary – gaffer, major Hollywood feature films, IATSE local 52



I owe them all.



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  • 2 months later...

Thank you Miguel. I'm so glad you enjoyed it and found it useful. Would you be open to posting a review on Amazon.com for the book? I've been told tat the more postive reviews a book has the higher up it appears on the search list on Amazon. Thanks again.



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  • Sustaining Member

You are absolutely right.


I will be posting a review on Amazon for the book next weekend if it is ok? (And if I don't forget doing so!)

I set up a reminder on my Mac so hopefully I won't forget! :D


I will post the review on here if it is ok too?


Have a lovely day.


Kindest regards.

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  • 4 years later...

As someone who just got throught the first half of his copy, I can only say a big THANK YOU! I really like the "hands on" approach. It's really making things simple to understand, so that when something doesn't go as expected one knows what to work upon, to improve the situation. Or at least how to change aim on the flight, if it becomes clear that what you have just doesn't do what you wanted to do.

Given the price of film I'm initially going through most exercises with a DSLR set to a comparable time and ISO. The way the book is organized in chapters makes it really easy to "get the basics", and I find it handy to be able to immediately get a feedback, before going the long film process way.

Very useful text.

Edited by Alberto Serra
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Thanks - my intention on writing the book was to give low budget and starting out cinematographers ides on how to approach lighting situations and to encourage everyone to still light what they shoot.  I see a big problem in lazy cinematography, either relying too much on barely acceptable lighting since its "real" and terrible handheld camera work since its "real".  Neither are real. The human eye sees so much more than the best video camera - more dynamic range, more colors, more texture.  That's why everyone still needs to light - to make it look like our eyes see things. 


Thank you for enjoying my book

Edited by David Landau
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  • 3 weeks later...

The advice on how to light bathrooms is worth $32.75 all by itself. Consider the other 13 chapters of advice, schematics, and anecdotes as a free bonus

My favorite tidbit: Plug your cable into the power and then connect it it to the lighting instrument, not the other way around. 

Edited by Marcos Cooper
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