Shooting in Sh*tty Light, by Lindsay Adler & Erik Valind | Book Review

This book will be of use to portrait, family, fashion, engagement, and wedding photographers shooting on location.

Shooting in Sh*tty Light Cover
Last Updated:
Filed Under: Books

I MAY get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Shooting in Sh*tty Light Cover
Title: Shooting in Sh*tty Light: The Top Ten Worst Photography Lighting Situations and How to Conquer Them
Author: Lindsay Adler, Erik Valind
Publisher: Peachpit Press
Publication Date: October 4, 2012
Total Pages: 240 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0-321-86269-3
Buy at Amazon

About the Book

Dealing with sh*tty light is something that most photographers have to do at least sometimes—for many of us it feels like most of the time. It’s especially true when we have to get the shot and don’t have much control over where and when we’re shooting (such as shooting for clients). And as you can probably tell from the title, that’s what this book, Shooting in Sh✷tty Light, by Lindsay Adler and Erik Valind is focused on.

It’s a book that will be of particular interest to portrait, family, fashion, engagement, and wedding photographers shooting on location.

The reality can sometimes be miserable, but your images don’t have to be. You can’t always control everything on your shoot, but as portrait, wedding, and fashion photographers, lighting is an essential ingredient we must master. [p.xi]

It’s a book that’s very practical. Almost aggressively so. There’s no messing about with theory or stories–it’s just good, solid advice for tackling common lighting problems on a location shoot. And it’s nicely laid out, with a defined problem and clear, actionable solutions. Each tip includes demonstration before/after photos that show you the practical effect.

There are the obvious kinds of problems you run into, such as finding a way to turn harsh sunlight to a softer, more flattering look. So there are tips on where to position your model as well situations where you can throw gear at the problem (especially reflectors, diffusers, and flash). But it also includes situations where you’re not able to change the lighting and can’t direct the subjects—such as a wedding ceremony where flash isn’t allowed.

Just because there is minimal light doesn’t mean you can’t use your camera to make it appear striking! You have more options than you might think to help ensure your images are as remarkable as the moment. [p.107]

And electronic flashes and speedlights have come enormous strides in the past decade. Things like TTL metering and built-in wireless functionality have become incredibly useful. So it can be tempting to rely on fill-flash and off-camera flash. And those are both wonderful and essential tools, and are covered in this book. But one of the things this book does is serve as a reminder that there’s an awful lot of other things we can do to improve the shot without breaking out the expensive gear. And more than a few of them can be combined with off-camera flash or fill-flash for even better results.

And it’s not just about lighting the subject but also some of the other more mundane but nevertheless crucial practical problems that you’re likely to run into, like trying to grab focus when shooting at night or when strong backlighting is throwing off the camera’s sensors. So the book is a bit like a massive checklist of things to try to get the shot, no matter what the light situation is like.

When taking photographs in a low light situation, stagger your legs, bend your knees, and keep your elbows firm to your sides. A solid stance like this reduces the opportunity for camera shake. Exhaling slowly and squeezing the trigger—instead of stabbing at it—will minimize camera shake at slow shutter speeds as well. [p.113]

Who Are the Authors?

Both authors are accomplished portrait photographers. Ms. Adler’s style in recent years has taken a far more stylized and dramatic turn than the type of material covered in this book; you can find some examples here.

Here are the official bios of the authors:

Lindsay Adler Fashion photographer Lindsay Adler has risen to the top of her industry as both a photographer and educator. Based in New York City, her fashion editorials have appeared in numerous fashion and photography publications including Marie Claire, Elle Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, L’Officiel, and dozens more. As a photographic educator, she is one of the most sought after speakers internationally, teaching on the industry’s largest platforms and most prestigious events, having been named one of the top 10 best fashion photographers in the world. Lindsay has worked with some of the top brands in the photographic and related industries such as Canon, Adobe, Grey, Edelman, A&E, NBC, and Microsoft.

A clean, bold, and graphic style has become the hallmark of her work, whether shooting advertising campaigns, designer look books, jewelry, hair campaigns, fashion editorials, or professional athletes. Lindsay is renowned for her creativity and collaborating with designers and stylists in order to create fresh looks.

An author of five books, she is always working on new ways to share her passions and knowledge with others. Each year she teaches to tens of thousands of photographers world-wide through prestigious platforms such as creativeLIVE, KelbyOne, and the industry’s biggest conferences.

Erik Valind is a freelance photographer, born and raised on the Florida beaches, now living in New York City. Specializing in commercial lifestyle photography and environmental portraiture – airy and energetic imagery defines the style and vision of this top pro photographer. Inspired by the form, activity and diversity of people, Erik has lent his expertise to shape the public image of numerous personas and national brands. Erik also shares his visual approach, techniques and passion for photography internationally as a speaker at major photo conferences, as an author, and online as a CreativeLive and KelbyOne instructor.

Publisher’s Blurb

Sometimes photographers have to shoot in less than ideal lighting situations. Maybe the wedding is mid-day in the middle of a field, or perhaps the event is in a florescent-lit room. These scenarios can be particularly intimidating for beginning photographers who don’t know how to handle the many undesirable lighting situations they may encounter.

In Shooting in Sh*tty Light, professional photographers Lindsay Adler and Erik Valind cover the top ten worst lighting situations and provide a variety of solutions for each. They explain which solutions are most practical and why one option might be preferable over another, examining such problems as extremely low lighting when no flash is allowed, strong backlight, and the light on an overcast day.

Unlike other books that focus on natural light or lighting in general, this book addresses a very real need of beginning photographers, answering the question, “What do I do when the lighting is terrible?” Lindsay and Erik candidly show you the tools at your disposal, demonstrating the techniques essential to getting the job done with minimal fuss.

  • Shows how to deal with ten of the worst lighting situations, such as harsh midday light, extremely low light, and mixed light.
  • Offers real-life examples and practical solutions for handling poor light, such as identifying natural reflectors, bouncing light off a wall, or utilizing flash gels.
  • Features a fun, conversational style to help you conquer the fear of poor lighting and approach any lighting situation with confidence!

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Direct Sunlight
    • Take Cover!
    • Beware of Overhead Light
    • Create Your Own Shade
    • Combine Shade and a Reflector
    • Make Use of Your Surroundings
    • Look for Backlit Leaves on Trees
    • Shoot in Direct Sunlight
    • When You Are Stuck
  • Direct Sunlight, No Shade in Sight
    • Create Your Own Shade
    • Soften the Light
    • Use a Scrim or Diffusion Material
    • Use a Scrim and a Reflector
    • Face Subjects Away from the Sun
    • Use Flash on Location
  • Fluorescent Light
    • Set Your White Balance
    • Default White Balance Presets
    • Gray Card
    • White Balance in Lightroom
    • Custom White Balance
    • Use Flash to Augment Existing Light
  • Mixed Color Temperatures
    • Survey the Scene
    • Eliminate Conflict Light Sources
    • Move Your Subject
    • Add a Gelled Flash
    • Overpower One Light Source
    • Don’t Wait for Post-Processing
  • Shooting at Night
    • Focus in the Dark
    • AF Assist Illuminator
    • Wide-Area AF-Assist Illuminator
    • Flashlight
    • Depth-of-Field Preview
    • Find the Right Exposure
    • The ISO Route
    • Dragging Your Shutter
    • Use Light Modifiers
    • Try Stylistic Lighting
    • Contrast
    • Balance
  • Extremely Low Light, No Flash Allowed
    • Drag Your Shutter
    • Try an Image-Stabilized Lens
    • Use a Tripod
    • Shoot with a Fast Glass
    • Increase to a High ISO
    • Combine It!
    • Move or Re-enact
  • Low Light with Flash
    • Try On-Camera Flash
    • Modify on Location
    • Move Your Flash Off Camera
  • Dappled Light, High Contrast
    • Choose What’s Important
    • Purposefully Place Highlights
    • Even Out the Light
    • Fill with a Reflector
    • Block Off Highlights
    • Diffuse the Light
    • Diffuse, Then Add a Reflector
    • Use Fill Flash
  • Strong Backlight
    • Harness Lens Flare
    • Overcome Difficulty Focusing
    • Achieve Correct Exposure
    • Natural Light Solutions
    • Flash Solutions
  • Overcast Day
    • Watch Your Angles
    • Try Reflectors
    • Eliminate Overhead Light
    • Turn Their Eyes to the Skies
    • Use Flash
  • Appendix A: Glossary
  • Appendix B: Equipment
    • Camera
    • Lenses
    • Tripod
    • Flash and Flash Accessories
    • Flash Modifiers
    • Reflectors
    • Diffusers
    • White Balance Tools
  • Index

Sample Pages

The publisher has provided these sample pages to provide a preview of the book.

Where to Buy

This book is no longer in print, but it’s still available in eBook formats like Kindle, and you can find used copies.

Find it at Amazon.

Images and product information from Amazon PA-API were last updated on 2023-09-25 at 16:47. Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon Site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

David Coleman / Photographer

David Coleman

I'm a professional freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my travel photography here. More »

Leave a Comment