Photography book – Direction & Quality of Light

Photography book: Direction & Quality of Light

When Direction and Quality of Light was released in March 2013, it felt like an even bigger achievement than my previous two books. Here I share many of the “aha!” moments which took me years to completely grasp – that at the heart of it, every aspect of photographic lighting is dependent on understanding the direction and quality of light.

I do believe this book can make a difference to your photography. I’m that confident about it.

All the more amazing to see that 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 today, it was in position #1, although this list does fluctuate 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 the best authors and photographers.

Over 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!

The book might be at your local bookstore, but it’s definitely available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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30 Comments, Add Your Own

  1. 2John Ahern says

    Hi Neil,

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

    Regardless of the format looking forward to getting a copy.


  2. 3carl grooms says

    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.


  3. 4 says

    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.

  4. 9Johnny WashNGo says

    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 :)

  5. 10Zoë G says

    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!

  6. 11Kelly says

    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?

  7. 12 says

    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.

  8. 13 says

    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.

  9. 14Alfredo Medina says

    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.

  10. 15 says

    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!

  11. 16Lakey says

    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,


  12. 17Linda Wang says

    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! :)

  13. 18Jazz says


    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! :-)


  14. 19 says

    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!

  15. 20Alfredo Medina says

    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.

  16. 21 says

    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.

  17. 22Roberta says

    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.

  18. 23 says

    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.

  19. 24Nick C says

    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?

  20. 26David Hall says

    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!

  21. 27Ross says

    Congratulations Neil. Well deserved. I have all of your books now and am about 3/4 of the way through your last one Lighting and Design for Portrait Photography. Thank you so much for sharing your wealth of information.


  22. 28Charles says

    I was reading thru the comments on Amazon and one person had the gall to make a comment about “barely legal model”. I replied back and said who cares if the model is 55 or 13. Sheesh, if that is about all she has to complain about….

    Great info in there.

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