February 4, 2015

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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{ 28 comments. } Add a Comment

1 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!


2 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.



3 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.



4 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.


5 Dick February 20, 2013 at 3:57 pm

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


6 Juan February 21, 2013 at 1:41 am

Congratulations Neil! I just ordered the autographed version!

Thank you to sharing your knowledge!



7 manfred February 21, 2013 at 3:37 am

When in Polish?


8 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.


9 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 :)


10 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!


11 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?


12 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.


13 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.


14 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.


15 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!


16 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,



17 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! :)


18 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! :-)



19 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!


20 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.


21 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.


22 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.


23 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.


24 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?


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

Fantastic books. Couldn’t recommend them more!


26 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!


27 Ross February 5, 2015 at 1:39 pm

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.



28 Charles February 6, 2015 at 1:46 pm

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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