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Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with a Film or Digital Camera
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Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with a Film or Digital Camera

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  5,551 Ratings  ·  448 Reviews
More than 100 vivid, graphic comparison pictures illustrate every point in this revised classic and can help any photographer maximize the creative impact of his or her exposure decisions. Peterson stresses the importance of metering the subject for a starting exposure, and then explains how to use various exposure meters and different kinds of lighting. The book contains ...more
Paperback, Revised Edition, 160 pages
Published August 1st 2004 by Amphoto Books (first published January 1st 1990)
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Jan 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010-list
A true teacher and entertainer, Bryan Peterson writes as if he were walking students through a fun lecture course on photography. He introduces phrases that he uses again and again so that you, the student, start to fill in the answers before he finishes; he explains tricky technical details through memorable metaphor; he ties theory to his own photography, showing us just where he took his metering, and why. Halfway through the book you feel like a second semester student filling in all the jok ...more
Oct 25, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A few thoughts:

1) Not the fault of the book, but I knew much (maybe 50%) of the material already.

2) It has beautiful photos, with explanations on how each was made. This was very useful.

3) The writing is lousy, with silly and unhelpful analogies. ISO is like buckets under a running water faucet? And stupid attempts at humor or something resembling it: the author doesn't eat donuts, but he does eat bagels and so will sometimes use a ring flash. Get it? Bagels are round and a ring flash is round
Jun 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I couldn't put this book down! I read almost all of it in one sitting. I am a very amateur photographer and I learned so much from this book. I learned the value of the manual setting and how to properly use it. I learned from where to meter light. I had no idea there was a problem metering light from black and from white images. I learned many insights into creatively composed images and how to make them. Very informative and well laid out. Easy to understand.
Russell Libonati
May 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an excellent book for beginners. It's also a great book for the more experienced. It is useless for a pro or advanced amateur photographer. The author gives a very easy to understand method for getting the correct "creative" exposure on any camera. He explains the three most important aspects and how to use them. They are ISO, aperture and shutter. He explains white balance. He explains the use of the flash. He tells you how to meter. He really helps get you out of using the "Auto" mode ...more
Sep 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My husband bought me this book after I got my new bridge camera. I would not be without this 'bible', it is my centre of reference. I wanted to improve my skills as an amateur photographer and bought the camera for the zoom and many other options but I was a complete beginner. I have learnt so much from this wonderful guide and my photography has improved a lot. I am quite happy using manual mode, aperture, shutterspeed, playing with picture size, white balance to name just a few functions.
My da
Kae Cheatham
Oct 31, 2011 rated it really liked it

I purchased Understanding Exposure from a book catalog to which I subscribe. I have a small collection of photography books, mostly information-related, and this seemed like a good one to add to the shelves.

This is Bryan Peterson's Revised Edition, with the subtitle of "How to Shoot Great Photographs with A Film of Digital Camera." I shot film for many decades, and switched to digital just a few years ago; I was ready for some more tips on how to get the best from my pixelated (maybe pixilated :

Sumit Ghosh
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-college
Most of us beginners know the basics of exposure > how shutter-speed, aperture and ISO can have an effect on the exposure. But we, as beginners, have little idea about how to get the correct exposure. And when it comes to the creative aspect of it, we are oblivious. This short but rich book covers a lot on exposure, and how to use the various aspects of it to your creative advantage. The photos included, and the corresponding scenario and the decisions he made at that scenario, let us know wh ...more
Understanding Exposure is regularly touted as the bible for understanding exposure; I guess it's lucky that Peterson titled the book as he did. I've had my copy for a while now – a generous Christmas or birthday present some years ago – and had kinda delayed even looking at it; somehow expecting some weighty tome of technical explanations. The subject is one that I pretty much felt I already had a good handle on – especially after the excellent (but sadly no longer available) article by Ryan Bre ...more
Jul 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. I have an expensive camera that I don't know how to use effectively so this book was perfect for me! I was able to read it in one sitting and was kept interested throughout! After the read, I feel much more confident in using my DSLR. I'm obviously an amateur and I think this book is perfect for amateur's who want to better understand the manual mode of their DSLR. This book lays it out so effectively! I now better understand aperture, shutter speed, and white balance! ...more
Feb 22, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Beginning SLR photographers
This is easily the best introductory photography book I've ever read. It was a great refresher for the photography stuff that I've forgotten over the last 15 years, full of concise, easily understood explanations of useful photographic techniques. Some of the writing is corny, and the mnemonic devices get old pretty fast, but I'd still recommend it to anyone who wants to learn the basics of shooting with an SLR.
Alireza Sahafzadeh
Nov 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: photography
این کتاب نیز مانند اثر دیگر این نویسنده (دید خلاقانه در عکاسی) برای بخصوص شروع عکاسی یا کسانیکه میخواهند جدی تر به عکاسی نگاه کنند جذاب خواهد بود مطالبی درباره دیافراگم، شاتر ، تراز سفیدی، نورسنجی، حساسیت سنسور و حتی چگونگی عکاسی پنینگ و اچ دی آر در این کتاب جمع آوری شده و نویسنده بخوبی درباره آنها بحث کرده و مطالب خود را با عکسهایی که برای مثال آورده ارزشمندتر کرده است.
Wesley V
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really wonderful read for any beginner to fresh professional. Great tone.
Ryan McCormack
Jul 01, 2014 rated it liked it
I wanted to give this book four stars, but came up one stop short. It is by turns incredibly illuminating then completely opaque. I definitely have a much better understanding of exposure after having read it, so in that sense, it's a rousing success. But getting there could have been a better journey. A few thoughts / criticisms:

1. No infographics: A few well-chosen illustrations could help make a lot of things clearer. One example would be a handy-dandy reference diagram that shows a 1-stop (o
Dec 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, netgalley
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.

Apr 26, 2011 rated it liked it
This book provides the basics of shooting in manual mode and getting good exposures in a consistent fashion. Peterson clearly explains how the elements of your camera work together to produce different kinds of "creative" exposures, rather than the "correct" exposure you would get if you left it in Auto mode all the time. I did learn quite a bit from the book, and several things were clarified and I am no longer clueless about Manual mode.


Peterson himself seems to be an "aperture first
Joshua Rief
Mar 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Understanding Exposure" is a must read for anyone venturing into the world of SLR photography for the first time. The 2010 update completely addresses, and, indeed, primarily focuses on, shooting digitally. Both Canon and Nikon are handled individually, while other notable manufactures get a mention here and there as well. Most surprisingly, within only the first 30 or 40 pages, I was able to shoot in full manual mode, and compose photographs that, while not prize-winning, were in focus and exp ...more
Keanna (KeyReadThat)
*I requested from Blogging For Books*

Sharpening Skills
I always want to be better at photography and always wanting to sharpen my skills which is what this book has helped. I've picked up some new skills and a lot of things I had questions about and a LOT of things I didn't know. I will going back to review some things over when I forget.
Nick Frolov
Jan 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Don't go to the photo course, read this book instead.
If you like me had on and off relationships with cameras and want to finally understand better what's going on and how to make the picture you want, that should be good book for you.
Though If you already sophisticated in light-meters and exposure-triangles, then it is not your book ;)
Mar 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: photography
Been a while since i read this, but I remember it as being a very clear, enthusiastic and inspiring take on photography. Since exposure is so very crucial to all photography, this book is a much wider-ranging guide to all of photography than one would expect from just the title.
Feb 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Pretty much a must have for learners. I feel like I know how to use my dSLR a lot better now. Only criticism is that he used some terms without explaining what it meant until 2/3s of the way through the book.
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great for beginner photographers. Very easy to read and understand. If you just got a digital SLR and need some direction, this is the best place to start!
Jim Bowen
Jan 20, 2018 rated it liked it
It's weird, sometimes you find yourself scratching your head and wondering why a book gets such good reviews. Don't get me wrong, it's genuinely not bad, but 5* is something that I'd leave for breathtaking, bookwise, and I'm pretty sure that this book isn't that.

So what's the problem? The title should be the first clue. Who uses film cameras these days? And yet, there it is in the title, which should tell you the book might tell you is a little dated. Don't get me wrong, it explains the concept
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’ve been an Amateur photographer for well over a decade now and yet before I read this book I knew nothing about using a light meter correctly and nailing exposures without ‘chimping’ all the time .

If your like me and are solely self taught with materials like digitalrev on YouTube (back when Kai and loc were doing it!) you will certainly appreciate this book . It’s not about how a camera works or what ISO actually is or anything but rather useful info on how you expose creatively and correctly
José Fonseca
Aug 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
A nice introduction to anyone who wants to know more about photography technique basics. Very well laid out, clear explanations mixed with personal experience and illustrated with image examples, and without being excessively technical for the lay reader. Its the perfect book to start shooting a camera in Manual mode, and the perfect starting point to read other more complex books on photography.

However, I give it 4 stars, since there are some technical imprecisions throughout the book, i.e. at
Andy Lagerstrom
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
Not the type of thing I usually read, but I picked this up because I'm getting back into photography after a long time and felt like refreshing myself on the basics. And that's what this is, really. Basics. I didn't care for the guy's writing. I found his attempts to turn his photos into little stories irritating, when simple metadata would have been sufficient. Found it especially irritating when he keeps reminding us, "That's my wife!" over and over again. It's also pretty dated, lingering on ...more
Dale Yates
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book! Bryan Peterson is a very good teacher and has the ability to teach in such a way that the principles stay with you. This is a very practical book on determining the correct exposure, including the "creatively correct exposure" (for which we are individually responsible for) in photography. Even if one is an experienced photographer, this book will reinforce, and perhaps clarify, principles that are a part of the photography experience.
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Some of the discussion of digital photography was a bit out of date in some ways. However the general photography topics of aperture, ISO, focal length, depth of field, manual exposure techniques, shutter speed (and many other topics) were expertly written and in some cases inspirational. I would recommend this as one of my top 3 books on photography for people who are serious about improving their image making skills.
Aug 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Written in a very colloquial style which will be helpful to some readers. Each photo has a detailed description of the pre-shutter decision process which is nice. The book is breezy to the point where I'm not sure how actually helpful it will be, and some of the explanations (e.g. matrix metering) veer so far into odd analogies that they totally miss the facts of the matter. Best purchased along with a more detailed text.
Doug Dale
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hobbies
This was an extremely helpful book. I've wanted to try my hand at photography for a while and recently got a DSLR camera, but had no idea how to use the settings to get the types of pictures I wanted. This book explains the concepts very well and clearly explains when you want to vary aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. I plan on rereading the first part of the book again.
Vijay Harilela
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent book to those who wish to learn about taking pictures with a DSLR. Gives great beginners tips.

There is a wealth of information here and it is best to use this book alongside using the camera in conjunction with reading the book.

Take your time to learn as you would want to absorb much of what is written.
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Bryan F. Peterson has been a full-time commercial photographer since 1981, shooting assignments all over the world for many of the Fortune 500 companies, including Kodak, UPS, and American Expiress. He is also a contract stock photographer for Corbis and Getty. He has been a contributing editor at Outdoor Photographer Magazine and is currently a contributing editor at Popular Photography and Imagi ...more