Understanding Exposure, Fourth Edition – Bryan Peterson

Understanding Exposure Book Cover Understanding Exposure
Bryan F. Peterson

Provides detailed lessons on the elements of exposure and how each relates to depth of field, freezing and blurring action, and shooting in low light, demonstrating a diversity of creative choices in exposing a picture. Original.

I’ve been an occasional photographer for years, with some serious spells however I’ve taken it far more seriously for something over 10 years now. For many years I found “exposure” rather haphazard both in my knowledge and in the images I took. In the past 10 years I’ve learnt a lot from a variety of sources. Had I found then it this book would have been a useful part of that learning. This book has a good introduction to the subject and the language is sensible and accessible in the main.

Looking at the book by Bryan Peterson in detail it covers the three basics of exposure – shutter speed, aperture & iso – in detail and effectively. There is good use of sample photographs illustrating different settings with discussion on them. The no nonsense approach to shutter speed and aperture (f stops) is very welcome and would suit those with relatively limited knowledge of the subject very well indeed. Once the basics had been covered I felt there were very good good tips on techniques and ideas to try out. There was very good consideration of the way different types of light affect an image and the best way to take such images. There was coverage of filters and their use. There was also quite a lot on the use of flash and issues with using it as well as possible extra equipment to consider.

For those who have a fair amount of experience there will probably be some reservations about this book. The book was originally published many years ago when cameras were very different indeed. While this is a full revision of the book I found it a little odd for example that the author referred to “super-high” ISO settings as being questionable. 10 years ago the camera I had had fairly poor high ISO performance which was one of the reasons I replaced it. The three I’ve had since then have all had very good performance at high ISOs and the use of higher ISO settings does allow photographers to worry less about tripods which is great for travel. Similarly there is mention of the “cost” of shooting multiple exposure shots which really is not really an issue in the digital age.

Possibly more importantly there is no discussion of shooting RAW and what may be done in the way of post processing. While this may be a rather more modern development photographers such as Ansell Adams achieved much of their renown in the darkroom. The simple concept of “correct” exposure is actually not that simple and there are those who advocate “exposing to the right” (ETTR) as a matter of course for example. Fundamentally the author criticises the light metering within the camera. I understand that although again modern cameras are far better than they used to be. However the author’s whole rationale in the book is almost solely on using those in camera meters to set exposure manually.

Worth noting maybe that wildlife/sport get very little mention if any nor does monochrome photography. In the end there is much sensible advice for less experienced photographers here and many would benefit from a better understanding of the subject which should be helped by this book..

Note – I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review