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Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with a Film or Digital Camera (Updated Edition) Paperback – August 1, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Bryan Peterson is the author of the best-selling Learning to See Creatively and writes a photography column "Picture Points," for Popular Photography Magazine. His many photographic awards include the Communication Arts Photography Annual (eight times), Print Magazine's Design Annual (four times), and the New York Art Directors Gold Award. He lives in Seattle and Lyon, France.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Amphoto Books; Revised edition (August 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0817463003
  • ISBN-13: 978-0817463007
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.4 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (771 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,686 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bryan Peterson is a professional photographer, internationally known instructor, and founder of, The Perfect PIcture School of Photography. He is also the best-selling author of Understanding Exposure, Learning to See Creatively,Understanding Shutter Speed, Understanding Close-Up Photography, Understanding Digital Photography, Beyond Portraiture, and, most recently, Bryan Peterson's Understanding Photography Field Guide. His easy-to-understand writing and teaching style breaks down the complex and often confusing aspects of photography, translating them into what his students routinely describe as "aha" moments. In addition, he has been a commercial photographer for over 30 years, shooting annual reports for many Fortune 500 companies, and his trademark use of color and strong, graphic composition have garnered him many photographic awards, including the New York Art Director's Gold Award and honors from Communication Arts and Print magazine. He currently splits his time between Chicago and France.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

656 of 664 people found the following review helpful By T. Cochran on October 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
If you are trying to learn more about how to properly use exposure (i.e. aperture, shutter speed, and ISO) this is a fantastic book to begin with. It informs for the film and digital photographer. I have been taking photos for many years, but it has only been over the past couple of years that I became more of a professional. Despite this, I still struggled to understand some of the concepts such as the difference between a good exposure and a "creatively correct exposure" and what options I had.

You learn how to expose for front-lit, back-lit, side-lit scenes, overcast skys, macro photography, motion, stationery objects, how to expose for bright scenes such as snow (grey card & 18% grey) and dark scenes such as night name it. Then Bryan Peterson tops it off with a sections on metering, special techniques and filters, and an analysis of film vs digital cameras.

Understanding Exposure not only explained the basics in a conversational manner, but is also informed me of how the pros work and how to step up my photography to a higher level.

This book has hands-on exercises that anyone can go through so that the reader has experience of all of the methods explained. Along with this, the book is FULL of color photos that show exactly what the end result could be. Where applicable, there are comparisons of before and after exposure adjustments so the reader may understand WHY they should make such changes.

Where there is a difference between adjustments for digital versus film cameras, Bryan Peterson gives you the specifics of the difference and haw to adjust for it.

It is a book every photographer should have!
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702 of 714 people found the following review helpful By Chad Myers VINE VOICE on September 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
A friend loaned me the older version of this book, and I was amazed at how much help it provided. Even though the old book was based around film cameras, the fundamentals that were taught and the example pictures were very, very helpful. This book is an almost complete update, with most sections rewritten, several new subsections added with specific information for digital users, and has a slew of new example photographs.

This book is even better than the old edition, and expands on some of the topics that were only briefly touched on in the first book. One in particular that sticks out in my mind is that he explains the "don't care" apertures of F8 and F11 that he uses often. The old book mentioned it in passing, but I don't recall an explanation on why those apertures were useful. There is a short section on just that in this book and suggestions on when to use them.

Full color photos are used throughout the book, and are a great help in understanding the concepts that he talks about. Each picture has a caption with the information used to take the exposure. He shows you the same picture with different settings so you can see the effects the settings have on the exposure.

I find the book pleasant and easy to read. The tone and writing are very agreeable and easy to follow. While some aspects are technical, they are written in a manner that makes them easily understandable.

This is all about how to capture the image, not processing of the image after it is captured. There is brief mention of pushing or pulling film and the effects it can create, but in general, this is about how to get take a proper picture. If you are looking for a book on how to process the picture after you have taken it, this is not the book for you.
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68 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Wignall VINE VOICE on November 29, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a book that every serious photographer should own--both for information and inspiration. I've had a copy of the original version of this book (1990) in my office since it was first published and it's worn to a frazzle. That's why I'm so thrilled that it has not only stayed in print this long, but also that Peterson has updated it.

The first thing you'll notice when you read through this book is that Bryan Peterson is not just good at explaining the intricacies of good exposure in almost every conceivable situation (landscapes, close ups, portraits), but he is a world-class photographer. It's one thing to talk about manipulating depth of field or subject motion in theoretical terms, it's quite another to see the concepts demonstrated in masterful, creative and fun photographs. Bryan's photographs are fun, surprising and supremely well done. And the photos are so well chosen and so well done that even if the book was written in a language I didn't understand, I would get the points being made. His editors should be proud of that too. I also a professional photographer and author of many photo books including The NEW Joy of Digital Photography and I often look to Bryan's fine photos for their inspiration.

Getting good exposure is at the heart of making a good photograph. And you would think that with the auto-exposure systems built into both film and digital cameras that getting a good exposure would be a piece of cake. But as Peterson points out (and illustrates so nicely) there is a world of difference between getting a "good" exposure and getting the ideal "creative" exposure.
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