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Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera Paperback – August 10, 2010
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About the Author
BRYAN PETERSON is a professional photographer, internationally known instructor, and the bestselling author of Understanding Shutter Speed, Understanding Close-Up Photography, Bryan Peterson’s Understanding Photography Field Guide, Learning to See Creatively, Understanding Digital Photography, and Beyond Portraiture. In addition, he is the founder of the online photography school The Perfect Picture School of Photography (www.ppsop.com). He lives in Chicago.
Top customer reviews
Now, my review:
I celebrate this book's powerful impact on my photography, an impact that occurred because I read the book as a 176 page persuasive argument in favor of manual exposure.
On colorful, glossy, and attractively arrayed pages, Peterson argues for a distinction between an image's "correct exposure" and its "creatively correct exposure." The former, your camera's light meter will reliably report; the latter, you must derive based on the scene and your intentions for it. Camera light meters don't care about which items photographers want in focus or left intentionally over- or underexposed; they care only about the degree to which the areas of frames assigned to their attention meet the accepted standard 18% grey specification. When that standard produces an image to your liking, great! But many times, your intended image is not possible if the meter's guidance is accepted. Hence, the need for manual exposure.
This book is a concise, yet thorough and eminently readable discussion of factors that affect an image's exposure: aperture (how wide open is the hole that lets light in through the lens to reach the camera's sensor), shutter speed (how long is that hole open), and light (that which allows the camera and its photographer to "see" anything). Interestingly, Peterson does not spend nearly as much time on ISO (the sensitivity of the camera's sensor to light) as he does on aperture and shutter speed, but his choice does not damage the book's final excellence.
Appearing, on average, about once per page are wonderful images from his professional work that showcase whatever subject matter is currently under review. More importantly, each of those images is accompanied by a marvelously detailed report as to the reason for his presence at the scene reflected, as well as his thought process that yielded the settings and methods choices he made before pushing the shutter button. I am a big fan of such process captions, and Peterson writes them VERY well.
Earlier I said this book functioned for me as a persuasive argument for shooting in manual exposure. Because of this book, I made the choice to shoot manual from now on, except when conditions require aperture- or shutter priority. Before reading "Understanding Exposure," I would have snickered at the suggestion that I would shoot in manual. But Peterson's work convinced me that if you understand the interplay of aperture, shutter, ISO, and light well enough - and I think I do - then manual mode is the mode that offers the best chance of producing the image of your vision. As important, the book convinced me that manual mode is not nearly as challenging or cumbersome to employ as I once thought it was. Now that I have been shooting in manual for a couple of weeks, I tell you the book is right.
I heartily, unconditionally recommend "Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition."
Mr. Peterson shares from his vast experience, including some amazing pictures. I especially appreciated his frequent use of two side-by-side pictures, one showing what NOT to do and the second showing the right thing to do.
Although the author appears to favor Nikon cameras, he writes in a very generic way that applies to all camera brands.
My only complaint about this book is that there is not a one-stop summary page. All of the pointers that indicate the type of settings to use for certain situations are simply included in prose format throughout the book. This will make it difficult to use as a reference without a lot of sticky notes or folding of page corners down. I would have appreciated a simple table presenting the scenario (i.e. shooting with backlight) and the recommended approach (i.e. Aperture Priority, f/11, ISO 400, shutter 1/250).
Still a great read for anyone who is new to photography or would like to benefit from Mr. Peterson's expertise.
Some reviews have suggested that this book is only for the very basic beginner. I beg to differ. I have been counseled by and shadowed many professionals who've been in the industry a number of years, (never mind all the money spent on books, videos, seminars, clinics and courses). After spending any time with the pros, I was always certain that the only way to get the best photos was to get a bigger bank account to be able to purchase the best, most up-to-date gadgets, special lights, expensive strobes (in multiples), and super expensive/fancy lenses. Oh... let's not forget the assistants that you'll also have to hire to hold some of the gadgets. And yet, most of their photos looked so homogenized and truly a product of all the photographic "stuff" rather than the camera. I kept thinking that maybe I was just not getting it. I was almost convinced that obviously, all the creative photos are just good quality, basic photos which have been processed, and re-processed in one or more editing software programs such as Photoshop (another one of the "must have" gadgets). NO!! Bryan Peterson explains how to really use the camera to get that creative shot. After all, capturing a photo, is really nothing more than capturing and manipulating light. He makes it simple enough for the beginner to understand, and yet, without being condescending, can teach (or remind) the pros of the all-too-frequently overlooked simplicity of how to use only the camera, considering ISO, aperture and shutter speed to work in harmony to get a 'one of a kind' photo.
One of the statements I have heard all too often from professional photographers is that the on-camera flash is useless. Interestingly, I have found it to be a godsend in many photographic situations, and then get accalades from the same professionals about the quality of the lighting. Hmmm... Anyway, Bryan Peterson shares information on what I've already discovered; the on-camera flash is another great tool that already comes with your camera.
I will, in all fairness, confess that I have a DSLR, so I can't deny or confirm the book's subtitle of "how to shoot great photographs with any camera" and how it relates to the 'point and shoot' cameras.
One reservation - Peterson avoids explaining how a camera works (for example, what an aperture really is, or depth of field works). This makes some of the book feel convoluted, but this is a small thing.