November 10, 2014

photography book: Direction & Quality of Light

It was a big moment last year when I announced the release of my 3rd book, Direction and Quality of Light. I’m very proud of this book. Since my previous two books, and with so many years of maintaining the Tangents blog, and doing numerous workshops and presentations, my “voice” has matured. My photography has improved. With all that combined, I really believe the material in this book is very strong. Essential even.

As I’ve told friends – I wish someone had told me everything that’s in this book, at a much earlier time in my development as a photographer. I feel it would’ve made so much difference to my understanding of the vital element of photography – light!

Right after I understood all the essentials – depth-of-field, shutter speeds, composition, timing, and all of that – instead of getting caught up in specific areas such as flash & off-camera flash & studio lighting … I wish that at the time I had truly grasped that it is all about the direction and quality of light. With this book, I try my best to share those “aha!” moments with you.

With that, I do believe this book can make a difference to your photography.

The book might be at your local bookstore, but it’s definitely available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. And if you like to, you can still order an autographed copy directly from me.


update (November 2014)

All the more amazing to see that now, in November 2014, nearly 2 years later, this book is still bouncing up and down at (or near) the top slot on Amazon for Best Sellers in Photography Lighting.

When I took this screen capture, it was in position #1, but this list fluctuates daily. It really feels good to see that the book is still popular. And it feels good to see that it is up there with Gregory Heisler – 50 Portraits, as one of the consistent sellers on Amazon in this category. It was even high on the list for Most Wished For books in Photography Lighting.


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{ 51 comments. } Add a Comment

1 ROBSON VIEIRA February 20, 2013 at 2:21 pm

I look forward … to have them translated into Portuguese …


2 Patti Hale February 20, 2013 at 2:44 pm


Congratulations on the release of your new book! You always have such great information to share, and I can’t wait to read it!


3 John Ahern February 20, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Hi Neil,

Will you be releasing it in an ebook format such as Kindle?

Regardless of the format looking forward to getting a copy.



4 carl grooms February 20, 2013 at 3:32 pm

i have the other two which i have learned so much from.

i recently shot my first bat mitzvah using a spinlight 360 coupled with your techniques. the client was very happy with the results and gave me a $200 bonus.

the new one has been ordered. I was going to go to WPPI but instead I will be reading the book and practicing the things i learn. all for a lot less money and more benefit.



5 Stephen February 20, 2013 at 3:49 pm

John Ahern,
As with Neil’s previous books, any ebook formats are at the discretion of his publisher. Given that his previous books were converted to Kindle format, this one probably will eventually be converted for the Kindle.


6 Dick February 20, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Pre-ordered the moment I saw the twinkle in Neil’s eyes


7 Gene February 20, 2013 at 6:36 pm

Just ordered mine from Not available in Canada as yet but will be in the next few weeks. Congratulations Neil!


8 Paul February 20, 2013 at 10:57 pm


When I click on the Amazon link, the book comes up, but it says “Usually ships within 1 to 3 months.” Yikes!

Guess I’ll order it and see what happens…


9 Neil vN February 20, 2013 at 11:24 pm

Paul, the book has started to ship, so I think that might just be Amazon being cautious, while they fulfill pre-orders. But the book is definitely available now. As of today!


10 Juan February 21, 2013 at 1:41 am

Congratulations Neil! I just ordered the autographed version!

Thank you to sharing your knowledge!



11 manfred February 21, 2013 at 3:37 am

When in Polish?


12 Neil vN February 21, 2013 at 3:44 am

The various translations are entirely up to whatever agreements my publisher arranges with other, non-USA publishers. Completely out of my hands.


13 Johnny WashNGo February 21, 2013 at 5:48 am

Ordered the signed version and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

I hope the shipping to the UK is super fast :)


14 Milton February 21, 2013 at 9:06 am

Just ordered mine from Amazon. Congratulations Neil!


15 Michael February 21, 2013 at 9:26 am

I pre-ordered this through Amazon three weeks ago, but it hasn’t shipped yet. This means it should ship soon!!!

My wife and I both attended your Unique Photo session on Wedding Photography this past weekend. We are so looking forward to getting this book.


16 Michael February 21, 2013 at 9:55 am

Amazon just sent me an email giving me a delivery date of next week rather than early April!!!


17 Zoë G February 21, 2013 at 11:23 am

Congrats Neil! Loved your first book and really learned a tonne about directional light from it and my adventures using the black foamy thingy. ;) Looking forward to this book becoming one of the go-to tomes of the industry as those of us wanting to call ourselves professionals distinguish ourselves with the quality of light we harness. Might have to order an autographed one!


18 Alfredo Medina February 21, 2013 at 2:14 pm

I pre-ordered the book at Amazon on december 12 and today i received a shipping notification with delivery date for February 27.


19 Trev February 21, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Speaking of Amazon, it’s listed as the No. 1 Best Seller in Portrait Photography.

Well done Neil.


20 mike February 21, 2013 at 10:30 pm

ordered all three!


21 Laura N. February 22, 2013 at 12:49 am

Aww, I would have loved a signed copy! However, I pre-ordered mine and it should be here next week. Woot!


22 Matias February 22, 2013 at 8:15 am

Hi Neil! Can you show to us the table of contents of the book? I live in Argentina so I can’t take a look of it in a bookstore. Thanks!


23 Kelly February 22, 2013 at 9:16 am

Congratulations on your book! I am a bit of a beginner (have only been shooting for a couple of years) but am completely in love with photography and becoming a better photographer. Considering my experience level, would someone like me benefit from this book?


24 Neil vN February 22, 2013 at 10:44 am

Kelly and Matias … the presentation I did here at B&H, was based on the material in this book.
Watch it, and see if you have a few of those “aha!” moments, and then decide whether the $20 / $30 is worth it.

And really, in the grand scheme of things, the money spent on an informative book is money well spent, especially because books are so inexpensive.


25 Matias February 22, 2013 at 11:46 am

Ok, I will watch it, thanks!


26 Gary Smith February 24, 2013 at 2:28 pm

I have just ordered this book. I can’t wait for it to be released. I expect to learn new things about lighting that will make my role as a wedding photographer easier.


27 Alfredo Medina February 25, 2013 at 10:02 pm

I’m happy. My book just arrived and I immediately begin to fill my brain with new knowledge.
Also, as I did with the other two books, I will write my review on Amazon.

Thanks again Neil.


28 Humberto Yoji February 25, 2013 at 11:25 pm

Neil, thank you again, already ordered it from Amazon! Of course, I would prefer an autographed copy, but live at Brazil…

I really loved your two other books, and am pretty sure I will love this third one. Looking forward to receive it soon!


29 Lakey February 26, 2013 at 4:29 am

Greetings from the Land of Thunder Dragon, Bhutan.

My sincere congratulations on bringing out the book. I hope to have it one day. I’ve learnt and picked up so much from your tangent series about off-camera lighting and portrait photography; and in a country that doesn’t even have a single photography club let alone organizations teaching or tutoring wannabe photographers, your site has been a veritable treasure trove of know-hows!

I hope to keep on visiting your site, get inspired and learn along.

Kind regards and best wishes,



30 denton February 26, 2013 at 7:49 am

I’m in NYC and the book arrived yesterday from Amazon, so they are shipping now.


31 Trent Gillespie February 27, 2013 at 3:10 am

Grabbed a copy as well. Really hoping to improve my quickness of lighting tough situations.


32 Linda Wang February 27, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Congrats, Neil! I can’t wait for my preordered copy from Amazon to arrive! I remember that first workshop I took with you in D.C. many years ago. My photography has improved so much because of that fantastic foundation you laid. I finally SEE the light! :)


33 Thomas March 1, 2013 at 5:24 am

…and one copy is currently on shipping to Genoa, Italy. :-)


34 Jazz March 1, 2013 at 9:56 am


Just got the book from Amazon. It’s great! There is however, a most unfortunate error in chapter 2.

Whoever did the proof reading allowed the incorrect name “Grand Central Station” to slip past the fact checking and didn’t correct it to “Grand Central Terminal!”

Calling this grand terminus and historic piece of architecture a “station” is about the same as calling one’s wife or girlfriend a “prostitute…” Anyone who’s a true resident of NY or NJ knows this. Someone at the publisher needs a good beating for this error! :-)



35 Vic March 1, 2013 at 6:10 pm

For what it’s worth, my order from (Canada) arrived today – much sooner than Amazon initially suggested. Looking forward to reading it soon.



36 Neil vN March 1, 2013 at 6:34 pm

Oops. But then, open a browser window to Google, and start typing in: Grand … and then see what it auto-completes to. So I’m not the only one. Ha!


37 Alfredo Medina March 2, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Hi Neil,
I’m reading the book and although much of the material I have seen out there already knew him through the articles you have posted in Tangents, the mere fact of having them all printed and organized in a book easier to follow and understand the ideas contained therein.
On page 19 of the book, explaining the contents of the plate 1-12, the text begins “Molly was lit with a bare flash …” but concludes “… manual off-camera flash with a softbox”.
From an article on Tangents I remember the image of Molly K in front of a large building was lit with direct flash, no softbox.
Thanks Neil because much of the knowledge about photography that I have acquired over the past three years is due to your three books and Tangents.


38 Neil vN March 3, 2013 at 2:36 am

Alfredo .. you’re correct. There’s a mistake there. It was bare flash. The description with the plate states bare flash .. and then contradicts by saying it was in a softbox. An unfortunate error.

I’ll add it with the errata on the info page about the book.


39 Lou Recine March 3, 2013 at 9:57 pm

Hi Neil
I just ordered a signed copy from you, I can’t wait to get the book.
I look forward to reading it.

Lou Recine


40 Rob Dunlop March 3, 2013 at 11:09 pm

Congrats Neil! Hope you sell a gazillion copies.


41 Roberta March 6, 2013 at 1:38 pm

I’ve nearly finished reading your new book and it certainly filled in some blank spaces for me. The concepts are easier to grasp for me and I am most appreciative of your excellent presentation of this material.


42 Neil vN March 6, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Roberta … I am glad you’re enjoying the book. And if I could ask a small favor … a nice review on Amazon always helps! Thanks.


43 Phil March 7, 2013 at 7:12 am

Is the book available in the UK ?


44 Neil vN March 7, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Click on the Amazon link …


45 Roberta March 7, 2013 at 7:54 pm

Neil – done :-)


46 Dean April 6, 2013 at 10:56 pm

Consider one copy just purchased from Amazon. I already have a copy of your “On Camera Flash” which was great and helped me shoot my first wedding.

Cheers Dean


47 Phil Cohen November 12, 2014 at 2:57 am

Just love “Direction and Quality of Light” Magnificent work Neil! But how do we get hold of On-camera Flash and Off-camera Flash here in Australia? It seems that On-camera Flash is out-of-print; is this correct? Where would be the best place to purchase these books in the US?

Best regards,



48 Nick C November 12, 2014 at 7:34 am

This is as good a time as any to say “Thanks!”. I have copies of Direction/Quality and Off Camera. Both are well trusted references. I’m one where flash didn’t come naturally. But between the books and reading (and re-reading) much of Planet Neil AND practicing practicing practicing, I can finally say “Ta Da”. Much work to do, but I feel I’m on the right path. Thank you.

At one point, you had mentioned a book “60 Portraits” was in the works. The concept sounded very interesting. No word recently – is that still a viable project or was it shelved?


49 Tony November 12, 2014 at 4:25 pm

It’s a gem of a book Neil, I’ve read it a number of times and gained so much from it.
Looking forward to your new one ’60 Portraits’, it’s on pre-order.



50 Valent Lau November 13, 2014 at 1:12 am

Fantastic books. Couldn’t recommend them more!


51 David Hall November 13, 2014 at 10:43 pm

Neil… I just pre-ordered your latest book and can’t wait to get it. I have all of your books so far with this next one completing the collection!


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