Review: Understanding Exposure

NaBloPoMo, Day 21

Bryan Peterson (2004)

Allow me to preface my comments by saying that while I wield a pretty mean point-and-shoot camera, I know very little about the mechanics of photography. So, as a beginner, I found this slim volume to be the perfect overview of the basic concepts of exposure, aperture, shutter speed and light.

Peterson’s explanations are simply written and easy to understand. He refrains from bogging things down with too much technical information. For someone like me, who can get overwhelmed by the math or too much minutiae, Peterson’s use of concepts like the “storytelling aperture” (greater depth-of-field, small aperture, bigger f-stop) to communicate practical information works well.

Most descriptions are brief, one or two pages at most, accompanied by plenty of large color photographs, each with a lengthy description of the settings used to achieve the photo. Most of these do a fine job of illustrating each lesson. (Though I could have done without the self-indulgent photos of his wife.) Peterson also provides a number of helpful exercises for some first-hand learning.

As an initial step in my self-taught quest to learn which knob should be paired with which dial on my DSLR camera, this book helped to clear the haze of new information and gave me a firm grounding in the basics. It’s a fine resource, full of practical tips (such as where best to take a light reading.) After reading Understanding Exposure, I’m confident about using my camera in a more educated and creative way.

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5 thoughts on “Review: Understanding Exposure

  1. I will check this book out.
    In Popular Photography & Imaging they had an article about a “novice” photographer who was determined to improve his skills. He read his camera’s manual and Understanding Exposure from front to back. His photos were terrific.

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