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4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 21 September 2010
You can break down good photos into two aspects - the composition and the exposure. This is the best book I have read that covers the exposure. For composition, I highly recommend Michael Freeman's "The Photographers Eye". That book did more to improve my photos than anything I've read in the last 3 years.

Back to this book. So, you've learnt how to compose the photo. You need to understand how to capture what you see, or to create something from what you see. This book works through the photographic triangle of aperture, shutter speed and ISO in clear language. The best thing is that every picture has the settings that the author has used. It is so frustrating that most other books don't do that. Sure, by experimentation you can learn the ideal settings yourself. But in my view you, armed with the knowledge of how the author achieves his effects (eg creamy waterfalls) helps put you in the right ball park for the settings while you are learning, which means you shouldn't be making basic mistakes while taking photos of stuff you really want to capture. Which, let's face it, is why we are taking the photos in the first place. The book encourages you to move away from using the auto settings and be more in control of the shot and acheive better outcomes.

I also have Michael Freeman's "Perfect Exposure". That is a significantly more technical book, going into details of dynamic ranges, histograms etc. In itself, it is an excellent book, but I'd recommend Peterson's book as a first step.
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on 9 August 2010
As an enthusiast who wants to improve and move into more full manual control of my camera, I had been frustrated - until I picked up this book. It very usefully steps you through all the key components of creating exposure and also takes you beyond 'technically proper' exposures into 'creating' images. What I liked best was that it would demonstrate the point being made, and then explain to you how to demonstrate it to yourself (sitting there with camera in hand). Very inspiring and I feel much more confident!
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on 16 January 2011
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.
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on 18 February 2011
I have had trouble understanding exposure for years, having a problem with spacial awareness (I have dyscalculia - the number equivalent of dyslexia) and not being able to understand such concepts as something larger representing something smaller (eg big number - 22 - representing a smaller aperture). I bought this book in the hope that it would assist, having read raving reviews about how simple Bryan Peterson makes the concepts. I couldnt have been happier with the outcome - things I have struggled with for ages are now clear as crystal. Whoever would have thought of describing ISO as a team of worker bees - it's obvious when you think about it, 100 bees is going to do the job in twice the time that 200 bees would take! If that's confusing, read the book - it is worth its weight in gold!
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on 10 January 2011
If you are new to photography, in particular DSLRs, then this book is unquestionably for you.

Being a professional photographer I have read A LOT of books over the years about photography. And to everyone who asks me what the best book is to learn about exposure I have but one answer..."Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson".

I don't know about you but I've read books in the past where you read a page and can't remember what you just read 30 seconds ago cos it was so badly written.

Bryan's style of writing with clear and concise explanations, and lots of examples with actual camera settings, is simply a delight to read. He breaks down the components of exposure (Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO) and how they interact with each other brilliantly.

It won't teach you about composition or the 'correct' exposure as these are completely subjective anyway, but what it will do is teach you how to understand what your camera is telling.

The view finder of a modern digital SLR can be very indimidating with numbers, letters and symbols all over the place. Bryan's book will teach you what these all mean and what adjustments you need to make to get the result you want, so eventually you move away from that 'P' setting to Av, Tv and eventually M! It worked for me!

For anyone new to DSLR photography I recommend this book without reservation.
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on 31 December 2014
Since the author is a professional photographer and teacher, and so many people rated this at 5 stars I was expecting great things. I was wrong.

The first point to make is that there is absolutely nothing in the book about exposure for indoor photography. Nothing on taking photos in historic churches etc, family gatherings, or studio stuff. The author admits that natural light photography is his thing, which means the info on using flash outdoors is pretty weak too. For example this section talks about second curtain sync, but doesnt explain why it is better than first curtain.

The book was originally written in 1990, ie pre digital, and although there are some updates (eg HDR), it is a bit hit and miss. No mention of using histograms, or RAW for example. And the section on ISO gives short shrift to using anything above 400 (better to lug a tripod), and after that this part of the exposure triangle is not mentioned again. In fact the core of the book is still giving advice that is going to be of most benefit to those using film. For example where to take the light meter reading when photographing sunsets, snow etc is useful advice if you won't know if you got the exposure right until the film is developed. But if you can look at the screen on the back of the camera and tell straight away, well it is not so useful.

I was puzzled why the cover talks about taking better photos "with any camera". It certainly needs to be a camera with manual control of shutter speed, aperture and ISO. Maybe the author means he is giving tips that are equally useful for film and digital.

Anyway, some nice pictures, but could be a lot better on the core subject. Have a look at the other critical reviews.
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on 18 August 2013
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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on 30 December 2010
I rarely write reviews. I only do for things that inspire me and show me a step change from the norm. I started out with digital SLR seriously from about a year ago and have been reading up numerous informative guides/articles online to try and improve my skills. But this is the first 'photography' book that I ever purchased and I should say it is worth all the feedback. I learnt about composition etc. via Ken Rockwell and never bothered to go into Manual mode thinking I will lose all the photo-ops while wasting time twiddling the dials! Was I wrong though! I recently shot numerous indoor photos at a christmas gathering of constantly in the move kids (which means I needed to be quick) ,in dull tungsten light, all in Manual mode, following the tips and advice given in this book. I must say, great exposure everytime with atleast 95% of the snaps exactly as I wanted them to be. Once you truly understand exposure and how the camera's light meter works (it will obviously take practice and getting out to put the teachings in the book to practice before you can truly master the techniques)it doesn't really matter which mode you are in, including the dreaded 'M'! Thanks to this book I truly undertand what's happening with the light and how my camera really sees the picture. It has most definitely added substantial depth to my creative control over the pictures before I press the shutter and expect results as I intended. This book has given me foresight (understanding what to expect) rather than hindsight (looking at the feedback from the display after pressing the shutter and then applying corrections). I will whole-heartedly recommend this book to anyone who has some understanding of their camera and photography, now wanting to get into the driver's seat. Its easy to read, not too wordy and has great photo examples with the camera settings printed next to them. Ken Rockwell taught me the pleasure of flying an aircraft in the co-pilot's seat. This book has moved me to the captain's seat.... well and truly in control! Go buy it..... remembering you will still need a good eye for composition; neither this book or any one else will teach you that but will surely help with improving the eye.
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A great book that explains exposure in a simple and succinct way - no technical jargon just straight forward tips and tricks to make sure your digital photos are CREATIVELY correctly exposed.
Any one new to photography will find this book a godsend and more advanced amateurs will also find useful tips amongst the various techniques explained.

Nicely produced with big clear illustrations and a comfortable style of writing. The book is further enhanced with free online video clips from Bryan Peterson who comes across as a great guy, infectious trainer and highly motivated photographer.

A good investment for any photographer wanting to crack exposure.
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on 19 July 2011
I have never written a review on Amazon before but after enjoying this book so much, I thought it would be appropriate to leave a comment about it.

I am fairly new to photography and after reading this book, it has made me realise that there is a lot more to taking a photo in Auto mode if you want to achieve great results. I have really enjoyed everything about the book and there are some great photos to give you inspiration.

I do not learn very easily from reading books, normally preferring to do something and learn from my mistakes along the way.................Well, I did exactly that but this book has helped me understand what my mistakes were and how to give myself the best opportunity to not replicate them in the future.

Easy to read and really enjoyable.
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