Of all the photography books I have on my bookshelf, and believe me, I have quite a few, this is the one that stands out as the most helpful. It is the first one I recommend to new photographers and it is one that I refer to when I need a bit of a refresher. It will take the fear out of moving from the point and shoot modes to the creative modes of your camera. Don't let the dry title fool you. This book will help you with composition, depth of field and other aspects of photography.
Easy to read and straight-forward, Understanding Exposure offers the basics of aperture, lighting and shutter speed, photography's basic triumvirate, to beginning and intermediate photographers. The book is divided into these three topics, as well defining exposure, special techniques, and a discussion of film vs. digital. This is not a highly technical book and any technical points are well-written and easy to understand.
The book includes many pictures that illustrate his concepts quite well. Being a visually inclined person, which is why I like photography, a good example shot often reinforces what you have just read. These are not just pretty pictures to show you his abilities as a photographer, but practical. Particularly helpful is his inclusion of exposure settings and lenses used for each image. It will help you analyze why his shots turn out the way they do and give you a starting point for shooting similar types of pictures. He also includes some exercises throughout the book to help you practice what you have just read.
An interesting section deals with what he calls the "Who Cares?" apertures. Peterson lists these as the f/8 to f/11 settings that you should use when depth of field is not critical, but you want sharpness and contrast for your shot. Also helpful to me was a discussion of the depth of field preview button, something I had long ignored.
A few small caveats:
- I wish he would include ISO along with the other settings next to his pictures. He does not really discuss ISO until the end of the book.
- This is a book written mostly for people with slr cameras (film or digital). Some of this information would not be helpful to those with a point and shoot.
- If you are really into the technical side of photography, you might find this is not as mechanically inclined as you'd like.
- Not much discussion of the use of flash.
- This book apparently was written for film cameras then tweaked to add digital.
If you are a beginner, this book will help you understand the basics of exposure and help you take your camera off full automatic mode.
If you are an intermediate photographer, it will help you to sharpen your skills and move you to the next level.
If you are a beginner who is serious about learning to improve your photography skills, this is the book for you. Study this book (and your camera's manual) and you will be well on your way to becoming a better photographer. What more can you ask for $15.00 (US)?