Customer Review

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Far too general for this photographer, 18 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera (Paperback)
This is an OK book, and if you are just starting out taking photos with a DSLR then it will give you the basics, but beyond that it came across to me as a book advertising Peterson's work. I bought the book hoping to learn about how to expose film properly, having bought an old TLR, but I found it didn't really help that much. For example Bryan is constantly extolling the virtues of spot metering off the blue sky, yet never really explains why or whether this might work anywhere else in the world. Where does he live? Is the light the same in California in the summer as the light in Iceland in the winter?This book asks more questions than it answers.

Also, and this one really grates, how can you have a book on exposure that doesn't even try to explain how a light meter works, whether in your camera or a handheld one, or even broach the rudiments of the zone system? I'm left scratching my head and none the wiser. Instead we get a few rules of thumb from Uncle Bryan and pages and pages advertising his best selling photos. The book advises the reader to switch his camera to manual, yet if you have a completely manual camera, you would really struggle to use any of the material in this book.

Photography is painting with light. What we really need to understand as photographers is that negative film and especially digital camera sensors and reversal film have a narrow range in which they capture light, and so they will never capture what you can see with your eyes. Getting a perfect exposure is about understanding these limitations, and finding light of the right quality and the right quantity (the reason photographers and movie makers are up early in the morning), and knowing where to pitch your average exposure in a scene to get the results that you have visualised at the time you exposed the photo.

In my view Peterson doesn't really address the subject of getting the perfect exposure in different conditions all that well. His book is far too general, and could just as well have been called, "Switch your DSLR camera to Manual: How to take creative control of your photographs"; its more about the triangle of iso, shutter speed and aperture, and how each can be used to best effect in different situations, but even then, not in great detail.

I have since learned better information on exposure from 'The Negative' by Ansel Adams, and 'The Art of Photography' by Bruce Barnbaum, but then these men really understand what goes into fine art photography and will explain the art and the craft of exposing a good negative (or RAW file). I know a lot of photographers write books which are less about the craft, and more along the lines of "This is how I do things, if you want to create photos like the ones in this book, do this". This is one such book.

So to sum up, if you are an absolute beginner and have never used a DSLR camera on manual, this book is worth a tenner, but if you have the basics down, or you have a film camera and want understand how to make good exposures, my advice would be to look elsewhere.
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