I have recently purchased this book, and although I have read some good reviews of it, I had my reservations. I thought to myself, here is yet another photography book with loads of information that will only overwhelm a potential photography beginner. I am happy to say I was completely wrong.
Understanding Exposure is a book written specifically to suit beginner photography level, and to explain the mechanics of photo taking process (exposure), in a simple, non-threatening way. Digital Photography at this day and age is very much technical, and given the amount of books, websites and other tutorials, both in writing and on the web can be very confusing and frustrating for a photography beginner. Therefore it is easy to forget the basics of photography, which are quite simple, and this is where Understanding Exposure book stands out above the rest. It keeps things simple. Many technical aspects such as aperture, shutter speed, and ISO are simplified to the level that anyone can understand. I have especially liked the concept of "who cares" aperture (f/8.0 and f/11).
Bryan also encourages the reader to take control of his/her digital camera by using Manual recording mode, which at first seems to be a little backwards when comparing to what are most of the photography magazines suggesting, but it makes perfect sense. By consciously selecting aperture and shutter speed, and keeping track of camera's suggested settings for these parameters, the reader actively takes part in understanding exposure and how it works, which is the point of the book. Getting more consistent photo results than using automatic or semi-automatic recording modes (such as aperture priority, or shutter priority) is just a cherry on top.
The book features many inspiring photos which well illustrate the concepts being explained. Many of the photos are laid out in the format before and after the point being made is taken into account.
The appeal of this book is really for the novice to intermediate photographer. I can't think of any one subject about photography that Peterson doesn't present an explanation about. Beautiful photography, nice writing style, detailed but concise explanations makes this one a keeper. If you like the second edition you'll find the third edition invaluable.