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Fortysomething, photographer slacker, working in IT, living in Greenwich; failed polymath; drinks and eats too much, reads too little...

Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with a Film or Digital Camera - Bryan Peterson Understanding Exposure is regularly touted as the bible for understanding exposure; I guess it's lucky that [a:Peterson|82078|Bryan Peterson|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1314275996p2/82078.jpg] 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 Brenizer on the Utata website. Obviously, I should avoid making these prejudicial decisions about my to-read books, as I'm so often proven wrong.

Instead, Peterson gives us a series of short, succinct, explanations of the three components of exposure – aperture, shutter-speed and ISO – and the relationships between them; along with plenty of photographic examples. When to use different apertures is explained through Peterson's concept of three ranges – the wide apertures for when you want shallow depth of field, the narrow apertures for deep depth of field and the "don't care" range for everything in the middle where you don't care about depth-of-field. Peterson keeps going back to this idea, selecting depth-of-field from the three ranges, then building shutter speed and ISO accordingly. It's pretty basic really, but this kinda makes sense, though it's a simple approach, and Peterson explains it well.

Peterson makes a great deal out of using metering as your starting point. He describes the various types of in-camera metering, all based on reflected-light metering, and frequently suggests that metering doesn't need to be in-camera, that handheld metering is also available. Yet, for some reason, he completely fails to describe any use of incident-light metering. He's happy to devote a chapter to the ever-tedious film vs. digital debate, but doesn't think the use of handheld meters worth even discussing.

Ultimately, I found the book a little too basic for my needs. I'm sure it's a brilliant explanation for people for whom the whole aperture/shutter speed/ISO thing hasn't quite clicked, but if it has there's little to pick up here. As such I wavered between two and three stars, but it's not Peterson's fault that this book isn't really for me, so I erred on the generous side.