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Bryan Peterson's Understanding Composition Field Guide: How to See and Photograph Images with Impact Paperback – November 6, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 105 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Bryan Peterson is a professional photographer, internationally known instructor, and the bestselling author of Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition; Bryan Peterson’s Understanding Photography Field Guide; Understanding Flash Photography; Understanding Shutter Speed; Understanding Close-Up Photography; Learning to See Creatively; Understanding Digital Photography; and Beyond Portraiture. He is also the founder of the online photography school The Perfect Picture School of Photography (ppsop.com). Bryan lives in Chicago.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Amphoto Books; 10.7.2012 edition (November 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0770433073
  • ISBN-13: 978-0770433079
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.7 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #469,583 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By SMXSteve VINE VOICE on November 6, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've gotten more out of Bryan's books than any other source and here he has another great one. While it may seem this is a repeat of his Bryan Peterson's Understanding Photography Field Guide: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera this book takes those ideas a step further into composition. Not only is this book full of Bryan's great colorful photos the layout is well designed, colorful, easy to follow and understand. And that's the Kindle version! If you are like me, constantly learning, this is another great one to step up your photography!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book can best be described as a summation and blend of many of Peterson's previous books. The author summarizes, in this book, what he has written in many of this previous books (i.e., on shutter speed under 1/125 of a second), exposure, "seeing creatively" and macrophotography/close-up photography. Due to the fact that this book is only a short length of the total pages of these books conglomerated, these topics are only touched upon in a succinct manner. Thus this book would be of greatest value to those readers who did not these other books. Another comment that needs to be made is that this book includes many photos making creative use of flashes but there is no discussion of flash technique (unlike his one book covering this topic in detail).

In short, this book would be of great value (with its inherent limitations due to its relatively short coverage of many topics) to readers new to Peterson but of only limited value to those who have read many of his previous books. What he covers in this book he covers in much more detail in his previous books.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"...compelling photography is, first and foremost, not about the content! Compelling photography is about the arrangement of content."
--Bryan Peterson Bryan Peterson's Understanding Composition Field Guide: How to See and Photograph Images with Impact

When I read this I immediately thought of a recent photo* I had seen of a political candidate speaking to a teacher in a grade school classroom. By any standards this is a typical campaign photo op. Yet the photographer took it one step further. Off in the corner were two children making faces at each other not paying any attention to the adults. The photo was framed with one child on the left smile askew and another on the right rolling her eyes and sticking out her tongue. In between the two in the close distance was the hand shaking politician. What a fresh composition.

This is what Bryan Peterson helps us understand. I have read most of Bryan Peterson's books and have always come away with a fresh perspective and a renewed understanding of photography. Through his analysis and experience you can feel him radiate his joy and love of photography.

Regarding this book "Understanding Composition" Bryan gives the novice a field of view on "seeing" their image. He gives the enthusiast and hobbyist a fresh perspective and offers the advanced shooter a good read and new ideas. There is literally something for everyone. Whether you "see" new images differently or mine your old images for a fresh perspective Bryan will guide you along that path.

For anyone interested in photographic composition this book is a must read.

*Ruth Fremson/NY Times Slide Number 9 (Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg visited a first-grade class at PS 195 in Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn. [...]
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Many years ago Kodak published a book "How to make good pictures" which implied that enjoyable photos just don't happen, they are created. In this small book Bryan Peterson will show you how he does it, with some tricks of the trade. (If you want even more tricks read Scott Kelby's "The Digital Photography Book series) Peterson goes through the usual suspects; frame your subjects, rule of thirds, backgrounds, focus (depth of field), arranging items within the picture and many others. Because the publisher printed the example photos on excellent paper, you can really see what Peterson is talking about and the sometimes subtle differences between pictures. Even though this book can be read by itself, I think the reader would get even more out of it by first reading the author's classic book "Understanding Exposure" which everyone seems to quote. In Understanding Exposure" he describes better how f stops effect depth of field and emphasis and the differences betweeen Depth of Field in DSLRs and compact cameras. In this book he does list the camera, lens and f stop used for each photo but, to the best of my knowledge he never really explains how to get the same effect with the better compact cameras. "Understanding Exposure" will explain this, especially the 3rd edition.

I think that Peterson lifted some of the photos from his other books and on page 251 he points out that our cameras now have the advantage of automatic winders! Really. Peterson's photo examples are usually taken with a full frame DSLR Nikon camera or a professional DSLR camera with a crop factor of 1.5. Even his limited use of the Leica D-Lux (rebadged Panasonic LX-3/5) can do much better that the film rewinders. I'm sure this just slipped by.

By reading this book, you can at least get some small idea of the thoughts and creativity of a really great photographer who also enjoys teaching.
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