Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Review: Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera

Now that I'm back to hauling around an SLR, I thought it would make sense to do some refresher reading on the topic of photography. In a number of places, I saw Understanding Exposure, by Bryan Peterson recommended and fortunately enough, our library had a copy. I was sold.

Reading through the book, I was struck by two seemingly opposite sensations: (1) man, this is just basic photography stuff and (2) this stuff is really, really powerful.

Even though the text covers digital photography, the core concepts are the same as when Mr. Tschorke was teaching them to me in high school: shutter speed controls how sharp or blurry a photo will be; aperture controls the depth of field; and ISO controls how sensitive the film is. Fiddle with these, and the same scene can have dramatically different results. I knew this before the book, and I've been since reminded of it after. But, being taken through these core concepts again, really did bring them to the forefront of my mind and remind me just how powerful they can be.

The book also includes a number of suggestions on how to meter various types of scenes. In this digital age it seems like these tips wouldn't be necessary any longer - just shoot the photo, examine it on the LCD screen, and adjust. But, I was awfully proud of myself when I added +1 stops of exposure to some photos I took at the ice rink. Instead of gray ice, I got white, just like the book suggested.

The fundamentals are powerful. If you're shooting photos and haven't brushed up on the basics in a while, it's worth taking the time to get reacquainted with the founding principles of photography.


  1. I agree 100% with your comments. That book was a constant, "Gee, I know this stuff. Wait? Why don't I think about it more?" as I went through it. I really enjoyed it, and returning to the fundamentals has definitely helped me make better choices in my photos. I actually just pulled it off the shelf the other night in anticipation of a trip to San Francisco this weekend where I'll have some time alone with my camera.

    I enjoy the photos and stories you post of you and your family --- thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks for comment Ray!