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Understanding Flash Photography: How to Shoot Great Photographs Using Electronic Flash Paperback – August 30, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 133 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Bryan Peterson, a professional photographer, is the author of "Understanding Exposure, Beyond Portraiture, Learning to See Creatively," and "Understanding Digital Photography." A well-known instructor, he is the founder of the online school The Perfect Picture School of Photography (www.ppsop.com). He lives in Chicago.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Amphoto Books; Original edition (August 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0817439560
  • ISBN-13: 978-0817439569
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.5 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #168,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I own all of Bryan Petersons books and I recommend them to photographers who are just starting out, but I don't think this book will be one of them.

When I first saw that this book was coming out I was surprised because I think of all his previous books there was only one picture that had a flash in it, and that was a studio strobe. So I figured that with the growing popularity of the Strobists I figured that Mr Peterson was going to go into all the new tools that are available to make stunning photos. nope.

I'm guessing that a good number of people are going to buy this book hoping for help with a simple situation. You are at a wedding in a dark room and need to know how to make a flattering portrait of the bride and groom, but you also want the background to be exposed properly. Not to be found in the book.

here are some other items that are missing that should have been in the book

-shooting at high ISO's
-Bouncing the flash off walls not just the ceiling (which is very unflattering with the shadows it makes under the eyes)
-modifiers. very little use of anything to soften the light
-gels. while he does have a section that talks about gels, he mostly says that you don't need them. when you have rooms that are lit by CFL's, incandescent, LED's, Halogens....its' more important nowadays to know which gel to use to balance the color of the flash
-TTL. he doesn't use it

all of these omissions would be fine if the pictures were stunning, but that is also not the case. I found most of the pictures harsh and unflattering. but that is what you get when you aim a bare flash at something, even if you do hold it off camera.

I truly hate to write this review because I have always been a fan of Bryan Peterson's books. But when it comes down to it, I don't think this book will help people understand how to use flash to its fullest potential.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have read many of Bryan Peterson's books, mostly because I like his style. Of course, they are all helpful as well, with Understanding Exposure probably being his best book. Well, this book is right up there in terms of helpfulness!

I'm an amateur photographer: I really love photography; but I have a day job, so photography is only a hobby. I've read dozens of books, and I like to think I understand quite a bit about photography. But somehow, flash was always a bit mystifying. I understood some of the basics: flash is basically instantaneous, so flash exposure is entirely controlled by aperture and not shutter speed; however, beyond a certain speed, the sensor is never fully exposed, so you need a special mode (High-Speed Sync) to be able to use flash. But I never really understood what was going on with my flash: it gives me distances, and zooms, and power levels ... how was I supposed to use that information? Sure, I could use the automatic TTL mode and not worry about it. But if you're a true amateur, you want to know whats going on in order to experiment creatively. And I never quite got it. This book explains it well and painlessly! In fact, it's so easy, I'm amazed none of the other books I've read have explained it.

After explaining the basics, he goes on to explore some advanced topics. Not as many as some might like, and probably not in enough detail to make you an expert. But I don't care, and you shouldn't either. This is a book about UNDERSTANDING flash photography, not about mastering techniques. I went in confused and I came out feeling that I now understand flash. I can now read more advanced books, or just experiment and learn through experience. Either way, I'm much better off than I was before. And all thanks to Peterson.

I highly recommend this book!
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Format: Paperback
I'd bet that the engineers at Canon and Nikon would be shaking their heads in wonder if they read this book. Even though thru-the-lens (TTL) flash has been around longer than digital cameras, Bryan Peterson is still advocating the exclusive use of manual flash.

Peterson's advice is to set the flash to manual, determine the distance from the flash to the subject, set that distance in the flash readout and then set the aperture to that indicated in the flash readout. The settings that he recommends for other conditions are permutations of this formula. For example, if you have ambient light that you wish to preserve, Peterson recommends setting the aperture for that purpose, checking the readout for the recommended distance from flash to the subject and setting up your flash at that distance. Peterson's recommendations are sound, but he essentially changes the electronics in the flash to an automated version of the chart that electronic-flash photographers used to carry around forty years ago. He recommends against using TTL flash.

Yet TTL flash does the same thing automatically. For TTL, in a period of time measured in ten thousandths of a second, before firing the main flash a small burst of light is fired at the subject, from which the flash calculates the proper settings and flash power for an image. This is the same process that Peterson recommends, except that it's fully automated. That's why today's TTL flashes are expensive and internally sophisticated and yet so easy to use. In some cases TTL is far more accurate then flash used as Peterson recommends.
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