Lighting 101 PDF Translation Project

UPDATE: Lots of new languages are in play on the discussion thread linked below. We'll let the discussion fizz a couple more days and then break it up into language-specific threads to get things started. Thanks, Y'all!

Thanks to the multi-lingual talents of reader Andrew Dahms, I am happy to announce that Lighting 101 is now available in Japanese as a downloadable PDF. The document is being released with a Creative Commons license under which it can be printed out, shared and/or hosted anywhere. The only restrictions are that it cannot be altered or used commercially, and attribution must be included.

Keep reading for more -- including the Japanese download link, other PDFs in the pipeline and how to help translate Lighting 101 into your own language.

Hardly a week goes by that I don't get an email from someone offering to create a piggy-back site and translate Strobist into another language. Or a note that they already have been translating the site somewhere. (Which is not cool, actually...)

Having a slew of foreign language sites is good in theory, but in practice tends to create more administrative problems than it solves. As the content creator, I need to keep control over the site's original material. But even being loosely involved with administering a couple dozen translation sites is beyond my capabilities at this point.

And while the written material on Strobist is free -- and always will be -- it is only when people actually visit the site that the economic model of free content works. Not only do the advertisers pick up the tab, but some have actually altered their focus to better serve the site's readers. That's way cool. But I have to center the readership here for that to keep working.

The solution was to translate the core unit on the site into multiple languages within a locked document format. Hopefully, many people will benefit from the translated L101, and enough of them will trickle in to read more in English so that it will have been worth the traffic dilution.

Leading Off: Japanese

The first L101 translation to be released is Japanese. It is available via MediaFire, here. Japan has vibrant photographic community, and it is my hope that some Japanese-speaking photographers will benefit from being exposed to Lighting 101.

If you are part of the Japanese online community (we had 3,451 visits from Japan last month) I hope you will help to seed this Lighting 101 module into some of the Japanese language photo sites. You are free to link to the MediaFire hosting site where it is now, or to download and host/post/share it in any way you like. Just do not alter it or charge for it -- it is meant to be free.

And, thanks to the intrepid Rafa Barbera, who has been running the Strobist en Español site, Lighting 101 will soon be available in Spanish as a PDF. Constructing a mirror site is an ongoing commitment on both ends. So for now, translated PDFs will be the way to go.

Lighting 101 is also being translated into Mandarin Chinese, thanks to the efforts of reader David Li.

As there already are Italian, German and Danish Strobist groups on Flickr, my guess is they will happen as PDFs, too. More on that below.

Help Translate L101 into Your Language

If you are a long-time reader of the site and are native in some other language, you can help to spread the information in Lighting 101 to others. I am looking to crowdsource the process and will gratefully accept the efforts of anyone who wants to chip in.

Many hands make light work, so my preference is to use a team of translators for a given language. If we can get a few people willing to pitch in, I will be more than happy to greenlight a translation PDF and host it. French, Hungarian, Swedish, Klingon -- whatever. The more the merrier.

For each language, we will need:

A project lead: This person will coordinate the group's translation efforts and help with translation.

A designer: Someone who can create a PDF document similar to the Japanese example released today -- could also help with translation. A designer could also be a project lead, if they were willing to serve in both capacities.

An editor: Someone who was not involved in the translation, to make sure the translation is faithful to the original.

Additional translators: Several people working together in this capacity will make the project easily doable.

Ideally, translators would be native speakers of the target language, be fluent in English and be very familiar with the material (i.e., long-time readers). Once a team has come together to translate into a given language, I'll get it started, including some additional guidelines, Creative Commons image files, etc.

Bear in mind that this is a bit of an experiment, based on the ideas and generous volunteer efforts of those responsible for the languages already in translation. I think it is a wonderful idea, and an ideal way to pay forward any help that this site may have been in broadening your understanding of small-flash lighting.

I have set up a Lighting 101 Translation Thread on Flickr. If you are not already on Flickr, you will need to sign up for a (free) account to be involved. From there, groups can form into various languages, share documents via email (or Flickr mail) and coordinate with me.

I will vet each translation before releasing it on the site in its official form, so please to not turn them out in to the wild before they are complete. I will also monitor the translation thread and answer any questions that pop up. Please ask them there.

For those who choose to get involved in a translation project, my sincere and heartfelt thanks and the thanks of those who speak your language who will learn more about lighting as a result of your efforts. Ditto for those of you who help to propagate the translated documents into your native language site and discussion fora.

I can tell you from experience of running this site that it is a wonderful feeling to be a conduit for knowledge that goes on to help many people -- and that good feeling never goes away.

UPDATE: The above-referenced Flickr thread is where people are organizing for translation efforts (not the comments section of this post.)


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Blogger Wounded Healer said...

Hi David,

By any chance is an English .PDF available?


November 05, 2008 7:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here you go...

November 05, 2008 8:04 PM  
Blogger Ted said...

@wounded healer: they have to translate it from the Japanese, first.

: - )


November 05, 2008 8:08 PM  
Anonymous Tim Knight said...

ditto what "wounded healer" said.

I'd LOVE to have a paper copy.

November 05, 2008 8:36 PM  
Blogger Wounded Healer said...


November 05, 2008 8:45 PM  
Blogger Wounded Healer said...


November 05, 2008 8:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what if you could read the lighting 101 on the road, in your camera? a g9 for example... its possible using chdk (see )
i'm one of the developers for this baby. we could have the lighting 101 come preinstalled with every chdk version. just an idea.

regards, PhyrePhoX

November 05, 2008 8:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what if you could read the lighting 101 on the road, in your camera? a g9 for example... its possible using chdk (see )
i'm one of the developers for this baby. we could have the lighting 101 come preinstalled with every chdk version. just an idea.

regards, PhyrePhoX

November 05, 2008 8:51 PM  
Anonymous Lee Monahan said...

I know it's not the place for it, but it was the only way to get a message to you. On the Discovery Channel there is a new show called Time Warp. Awesome show about two guys with some high speed video gear filming different stuff each episode, really neat stuff. One of the two new episodes this evening is with a guy (Mark Waw?) who specializes in the high speed water drop photography. Incredibly cool setup and nice details on his lighting and gels.

November 05, 2008 9:00 PM  
Blogger Gamaliel said...

Is this strobist 101 in english to download in pdf?

if so give me a link please thanks

November 05, 2008 9:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget!!! Today was free coroplast day! Go out and get your grid spot material.

November 05, 2008 10:44 PM  
Blogger .felix said...

I must say that I thought about translating this in Romanian; I believe though that Romanians speak quite well English so we'll have to see if there is a lot of interest in that.
I've been reading for quite some time now and have learned quite a bit. I do have a resource for translations - I believe you can post your movies/clips there and anyone can subtitle them in any language they know. I have done some work for them translating English to Romanian. After that, you can embed the player in your site and people can choose their language of choice for the subtitles. This is obviously for when you post clips. :)
Keep it up.

November 05, 2008 10:53 PM  
Anonymous hivewasp said...

... what amazes me the most is that japanese is the first language for the translation. Well after all, most of our cameras are japanese :D

November 05, 2008 11:46 PM  
Blogger Stupig said...

Count me in if anyone's interested in a Chinese version.

November 06, 2008 12:01 AM  
Blogger raages said...

I'm avaiable to translate the document into Portuguese (Portugal).

November 06, 2008 4:31 AM  
Blogger Gordon McKinney said...

What kills me is people on the net don't respect each other's copyrighted work.

My own photography business had three people copy my site content and one person who lived two miles away copy my business name!!!!!

Threatening legal action is the only way to get people to think twice. Crazy!

Have you thought about getting a lawyer to look into enforcing your copyright?

November 06, 2008 4:39 AM  
Blogger Bryan said...

A warning to all of us English speakers living in Japan: buy speedlights now before the prices go any higher! Just last week I tried to pick up an SB-600 and it was ¥26,000. Now I wish I had - they'll be sold out as soon as this gets popular here.

Seriously, though, thank you for all the hard work that goes into translating a document such as this. I'm sure it will ultimately help thousands of people, just as Lighting 101 helped me.

November 06, 2008 9:09 AM  
Anonymous AlanS17 said...

It will never be as accurate as a direct translation by a native speakers, but have you considered automates systems like Babelfish or Google's translator.

Here's an interesting article for "quick and "dirty" generalized translations. It may not be accurate enough for instructional doumentation like Lighting 101, but it certainly has its place.

The benefit of such a system is that it doesn't just translate info. It also translates comments and anything else on the page.

It was even easier to integrate into my WordPress blog, but I don't know why it wouldn't work here. As a disclaimer, I haven't actually tried the implementation in this particular article - only something very similar for WordPress.

November 06, 2008 11:17 AM  
Anonymous Allan said...

When will the Lighting 102 be available as a PDF?

November 06, 2008 4:17 PM  
OpenID pestbarn said...

I could probably translate the Lighting 101 PDF to Swedish, or co-translate it if somebody else is interested too. Let me know if I can be of any help, just drop me an e-mail! (my address can be found on my blog)

November 06, 2008 7:07 PM  
Anonymous Ziv said...

Let's hope the Chinese translation of Strobist 101 goes better than these instructions to assemble a Butcher's Trolley...

Assembly Procedure:
1. Be tights part E with part I together by fitting M. Also can be installation handle part J in this side.

2. Be tights part D with part H together by fitting M. Like a step No. 1. And may be installation handle in this side too.

- Use corner fitting to be holds the Bottle rack.

3. To connects the both side legs with Back frame part G. Then ware Wire tray along the position itself and tighten each corner.

4. Assemble wood top with drawer divider. And bring part from Step No. 3 turn around to back of wood top (from picture) then tights wood top with housing and ware all casters to position.

Be CAREFUL top wood face!

When this step finished turn around it again.

5. Input the Drawers.

6. Test stranger & use on.

I'm just sayin'


November 06, 2008 10:04 PM  
Blogger Valdecir said...

Hi David,
I´m a very very long time reader that does not make comments, but I´m willing to translate the 101 to the Portuguese. It will be a very helpful tool for all the Brazilians that come to your wonderful blog but could not read in English! What are the steps to start the translation? You can count on me to do that!

And YOU! Brazilian Photographer that can read in English, please get in touch with my and lets start this job together! Let´s help our fellows that can´t read English or do so using Google Translator to have this wonderful content in our native language available!


Valdecir Carvalho
São Paulo - Brazil

November 06, 2008 10:26 PM  
Blogger Bethany Fegles Photography said...

I'm a Canon user and would LOVE this if Canon put it out like you suggested! I may even get the Nikon DVD... I'm just learning the basics of lighting. Thanks for posting about this. I really enjoy your blog!

November 07, 2008 1:58 AM  
Blogger Admin said...

Hi there David,
Long time reader from Greece.
I'm available to translate the document into Greek. For the time is just me. I don't know if there are any other readers from Greece that would be interested in helping translate L101. Let me know if I can be of any help.
regards Ted

November 07, 2008 2:03 AM  
Blogger Mindaugas Grigas said...


I could work on a Lithuanian version of 101. Even though it is not too big audience, still it's another language in the list ;)


November 07, 2008 6:56 AM  
Anonymous Eduardo Leite said...

I can help with the portuguese version... From Brazil...


November 07, 2008 9:43 AM  
Anonymous EPICimaging said...

I have been following this blog ever since I got my first Nikon Speedlight a few months ago and I have learned a ton! I ordered a few more strobes after saving up some mola and they finally arrived yesterday! I can't wait to start going through all of the assignments.

From someone who loves photography but finances won't afford to go back to school to get an education in this field--THANKS! You have no idea how many people you are helping by not charging us for this site!

November 08, 2008 11:41 AM  
Anonymous Tibor Radvanyi said...

Hi David,

I started to collect translators for the Hungarian version.
Contributors are welcome. You might join on my Hungarian blog.

Best regards,

November 08, 2008 2:21 PM  
Anonymous Blaise said...


I would like a bit more info on how that creative commons works in this precise example?

Could I for instance just take a few paragraphs / pages from the PDF and host them on a site as long as all the credits are there? Or is it only possible to host the full PDF?

In other words - is the file the shareable attribute or the content?

November 09, 2008 6:23 PM  
Blogger David said...

No, the document is designed to be a standalone education module as an introduction to lighting, not a royalty-free collection for posting snippets of content.

Editing the pdf down is an alteration, and the license specifically prohibits that.


November 09, 2008 6:59 PM  
Blogger Guilherme T said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 10, 2008 10:45 AM  
Blogger Guilherme T said...

As a Brazilian, long time reader, fluent english speaker and writer, you can count on me for the Portuguese-Brazil Translation

Let's bring this endless source of strobist goodness to the brazilian non english readers out there!!

Anything on the way, just send me a Flickr mail.

Brasileiros por aí:
Entrem em contato no caso de uma tradução pra pt-br! Ofereço colaboração pra tradução

Congrats David and
Best Regards,
Guilherme Tondello

November 10, 2008 11:06 AM  
Blogger KenKen Sen said...

it's so awesome that you have Japanese one!! btw, do you have that pdf in Chinese?

November 16, 2008 3:57 AM  
Blogger Tex said...

Dear David,

I really enjoy all the work you do here at Strobist. I only wonder if you have considered creating a Magazine out of your Lighting 101 PDFs. There could be one for each language that the guide gets translated into. With the PDFs already created if wouldn't take much to make them into magazines. Just add a cover page, and a table of content.
Though printing is not free it has become more affordable and better yet it can be done on demand. If you are at all interested you should check out
MagCloud does small and short run printing and once created the magazine would be ordered by those who want it, without further work on your part.
I hope it helps.


November 19, 2008 7:06 PM  
Anonymous Russell M. said...

Mr. Hobby,

Tokyo Strobist Flickr pool launched with links to the Japanese version of the lighting 101 pdf.

Now we have to see if we can get a critical mass of folks to join...and if so maybe we can start having some meet ups here in Tokyo too!

The flickr pool is here...

I cribbed some language from the rules and what not from your main flickr page...please let me know if you want any changes. Will work on some translations for that part of the page intro as well.

Other than that, thank you for the encouragement.


January 06, 2009 11:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about german?

March 01, 2009 3:23 AM  
Blogger Klaus said...

Here you can find download links for the german translation:

September 16, 2009 6:45 AM  

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