Firstly, I would like to thank Grant for giving me access to this huge 164 page eBook for the purposes of reviewing it. A big book begets a big review and thus a lengthy, non Twitter friendly url and title, so I will try to provide a short url just in case anyone wants to tweet this big book review and spread the love. A big thanks to Grant also for giving me and this blog a mention in the book.
Grant takes us through the ins and outs of modern night photography with comprehensive coverage of equipment and preparation, settings and calculations, composition, exposure, focus and finally processing. Did I miss anything?
Who is it for?
It’s not for the beginner, but if you have some experience and some success shooting manual mode with a DSLR and you want to try Night photography, then you will get a lot out of this eBook. It is the same with the post processing, you would have to have a fundamental understanding of photoshop to make the most out of the photoshop chapters.
One of the great thing about a well referenced eBook is the ability to have clickable links in the text. The first chapter on equipment, not only gives tried and tested suggestions for ALL the equipment needed, but you are just a click away from a purchasing link with B&H or other reputable equipment distributors. The next chapter on planning your shots with give you the most comprehensive collections of weather, star, aurora websites out there. Get in there and create a “Collier Bookmarks” on your chrome. This is such valuable resource and is easily my favourite part of this eBook and why I think it is worth the price for this section alone. It is superb! Are you deciding which moon phase to book your trip, or how high the tide will be or confused between Nautical and Astronomical Twilight? Now you will have it all in one place.
I say, “Intelligence is the ability to prepare.” The first 2 sections of this “Collier’s Guide” are exceptionally intelligent.
The following sections cover the basics of shooting with chapters on composition, settings, exposure and focus. Several pages give a comprehensive overview for composing night shots, from preparations and scouting to balancing elements in a night scene. The chapter on setting is incredibly comprehensive and covers aspect of focus and depth of field as well as some lengthy considerations for iso choice. So if you need to know how to get the best signal to noise ratio and maintain a reasonable DOF, here are all the answers.
The next section is an encyclopedic write up of light sources, ranging from meteors and Auroras, to bioluminescence – several pages too many on light pollution (I mean “Painting”) which I will gloss over here. A really nice section which includes everything you need to know about the moon.
Interestingly, the chapters describing Multiple exposures start with a few pages on the Magic Cloth Technique (or Black Card Technique). The technique is offered as a viable alternative to creating multiple exposures for the purpose of creating shots with single exposures (such are some competition demands).
The processing section is very… what’s the word? very… Comprehensive. Here several techniques are discussed relative to the shooting technique. Perhaps the biggest concept discussed is Tony Kuyper’s Luminosity Masks. As the technique takes its throne in the utility belt of the night photographer, this Collier’s guide gives some stunning examples of applying the technique to night photography. Be prepared to have a good understanding of layers and masks and curves before you tackle this.