Let me say right up front, even if you do not shoot Nikon you should still read this review (and watch the DVD), because light is light and most of this DVD is about light and how we as photographers can control and shape it.
Though if you don't use Nikon Speedlights watching the DVD may have you rethinking that position.
But before I get into the review let me explain why I am a big fan of instructional DVD's.
1. It is an inexpensive educational opportunity (this DVD can be had for under $30).
2. You can watch (and re-watch it) at a time that is convenient to you.
3. You can pause it and try what is being presented right then and there (as apposed to having to wait until you get home from a live event, hoping you remember it).
4. When you have sucked every bit of information out of the DVD you can give it to a friend or sell it on eBay and recover a good part of your investment.
Now, for the review.
In the "Hands-on Guide to Creative Lighting DVD" we get to spend just over 2 1/2 hours with Bob Krist and Joe McNally talking about the principles of light, light quality and how they interplay with the things we like to photograph most, landscapes and people.
The first 45 minutes (section 1) is spent explaining what light is, how it works, and why we want to be thinking about light AND shadows when we are setting up a photograph.
Bob goes into photographing in natural light, using Speedlights to supplement natural light, and shooting with Speedlights alone.
He explains normal sync speed, high-speed sync, and slow (front curtain) sync.
Bob then takes us into his studio and starts a portrait session using a single flash and methodically building up to a 3 Speedlight setup using umbrellas and reflectors.
Each scenario is accompanied with before & after images, diagrams, and equipment lists just to make sure we didn't miss a thing.
Section 2 is dedicated to Nikon folks as it is detailed operating instructions for the SB-600, SB-800, and SB-900 Speedlights. How to set them up as commanders, as slaves, using them in conjunction with built in Nikon camera flashes, and with the SU-800 command module.
They cover all of the features in-depth and you will certainly what to watch this section several times.
I have always been extremely happy with my SB-800's and had never really given much thought to upgrading to the Mac-daddy SB-900, but after seeing how well (and easy) it is to have complete control of all the other flashes from a single point I am seriously reconsidering my options (which petty much consists of grabbing a shopping cart and scouring the streets for returnable bottles and cans).
Section 3 was my favorite part of the DVD, it is Joe McNally (with Bob as his assistant) shooting in several different (difficult) locations, from dark dance studios to harsh mid-day sun on the water and how we as photographers can overcome these conditions and bend light to our will (almost sounds like a super here, huh?).
Joe will take a single shot of the subject without a flash so we can all see what it looks like and then slowly builds from there. Adding one light, taking the shot, evaluating the shot, and continuing to build until problems have been overcome and he has light and shadow exactly where he wants them.
It's a great learning process, starting with nothing and building an outstanding image, all done in a manner that anyone can follow and emulate.
We also get to watch Joe interact with the client, this was as much of an educational opportunity as watching him build with light.
The DVD ends with Joe and Bob going over images from the different shoots, evaluating the photographs and discussing how they overcame the challenges of location lighting.
If I had to say one thing I didn't like about the DVD it would be... ah... well... NOTHING.
It starts with the very basics so that newcomers to photography can follow along and builds into 4 and 5 light (stunning) portraits, and at no point would the beginner be lost or the experienced photographer be bored.
Hands-on Guide to Creative Lighting DVD is money and time very will spent.
(if you are a subscriber and can't see the video, come by the blog and check out the trailer for this DVD)