BOOK REVIEW: Night Photography and Light Painting by Lance Keimig (Focal Press)

For many photographers the prospect of going out at night with your camera seems almost perverse. For an intrepid number however, the veil of dusk serves as an enticing invitation into a world of almost unlimited promise and creative opportunity. If you’re intrigued by the idea of night photography, the next question is often ‘how exactly do I get good shots at night?’ Fortunately, the 2nd edition of Lance Keimig’s excellent book provides some answers while also containing enough detail to satisfy and inspire more experienced photographers.

As you might expect, there are some differences between this and 2010’s first edition ‘Night Photography: Finding Your Way in the Dark’. As suggested by the title, the 2nd edition places greater emphasis on light painting, with a chapter on the history of light painting replacing the previous edition’s introductory chapter on the history of night photography as a whole. There are also two further chapters covering technical information and valuable guest contributions from prominent light painters adding their insights from around the world.

Another key difference is the omission of the chapter on film-based night photography found in the 1st edition. Lance Keimig justifies this by arguing that film photography comprises an ever-diminishing proportion of photographic activity, while pointing you towards other books that cover this (including his own 1st edition), for those that need this information.

Mr Keimig’s real world experience and love for his craft repeatedly shines through as he outlines the ‘night photography mind-shift’ required to make the most of the world of photographic opportunities available at night, as well as when he covers simple, but often overlooked, practicalities such as dressing appropriately for the weather. This guidance is as valuable as any technical advice and no book on night photography could be considered complete without it.

As with the first edition there is a liberal selection of high-quality images throughout the book, providing inspiration and education, with exposure settings included in most cases.

This edition includes an expanded chapter on post-processing, where Keimig takes you through his workflow and some key manipulations in Adobe Lightroom, with example images used to illustrate the effect of these manipulations on the final result. He is quick to point out that his method is by no means the only method, but this is still an important chapter for those who may need guidance on how to get the most out of their RAW files and the tips contained should be largely applicable to other photo editing software applications.

Night photography is a fascinating and rewarding pursuit, made more so by the fact that the more you learn, the more you realise that there are numerous technical and creative possibilities. This can be daunting to the beginner and more experienced photographer alike. The real achievement of this book then is in providing an overview of the discipline that is neither too superficial to be of use, nor too detailed to be accessible only to the most experienced photographers. The 1st edition of this book provided the framework on which I was able to hang my inchoate enthusiasm for shooting at night. I would happily recommend this 2nd edition to anyone interested in learning more about night photography.


268 pages
Focal Press; 2 edition (1 July 2015)
ISBN-10: 0415718988
ISBN-13: 978-0415718981

Night Photography and Light Painting: Finding Your Way in the Dark by Lance Keimig is published by Focal Press. You can buy the book here.