“Understanding Exposure” – Book Review

If you want to take better photographs, you eventually have to learn about light.

I’ve tried before. ISO, aperture, shutter speed . . . do I really have to understand how each of those is affected by light?

Well, sort of. If I want to keep shooting in manual mode instead of automatic (which I’ve been attempting for a few years), the information on correct exposure needs to finally solidify in my brain. Seeing how they all work together and affect each other makes a difference.

And maybe now it’s clicked. Reading professional photographer Bryan Peterson’s 4th edition of Understanding Exposure has helped.


Peterson speaks mostly to the DSLR audience, and he assumes you’ll mostly be shooting in manual mode. But he does occasionally give tips for those shooting in automatic and with point-and-shoot cameras.

The sections are basically two-page spreads on a specific topic with text explanations and photographic examples. (The photographs alone are worth the book. Stunning!)

Sections include:

  • Defining Exposure
  • Aperture
  • Shutter Speed
  • Light
  • Special Techniques
  • Electronic Flash

Do I understand everything Peterson talks about? Not by a long shot. But I’m understanding more than I used to.

Will my photos be better after reading this book? No guarantees.

But after reading this book I’ve been inspired again to try harder. I’m experimenting more (Peterson gives several suggestions for camera settings) and noticing more (he points out what to watch for). And I’ve even dug out my camera’s instruction manual again. I count it a win.

* * *

Do you love taking photos, too? Which camera do you prefer? I love my Canon Rebel. Please share in the comments.

My thanks to Blogging for Books
for the review copy of this book

6 thoughts on ““Understanding Exposure” – Book Review

  1. June

    Hmmm, this sounds like one I should add to my, Lisa. Or should I say “another” one, lol. I have a Canaon PowerShot SX50 – and love it! Thanks for sharing about this book!

  2. Pam

    After your mention of the book previously, I went to Amazon and ordered it. It arrived yesterday and so far I have just been drooling over the photos in it. I am trusting his words will come in a language I understand instead of a foreign tongue as so many books on photography seem to have been for me. Curious you have a Canon Rebel EOS T1i. Your encouragement in this area is greatly appreciated!! I have been told by many that I have a “good eye”, but it is really what the camera does with the shot I think I want versus me really accomplishing it! I’ll let you know how it goes, but it will be hard to not be lazy and step out into manual, etc., etc.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I totally relate, Pam. The language is still a tad confusing to me, but it’s getting better. I look at some stuff online too to help. Aren’t those pictures beautiful? I love them as well. If you have a good eye, you definitely need to step on out into this dangerous territory of manual world. 🙂 The book will encourage you to do it for sure. Let me know how it goes!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Well, I think it depends on the phone and on the camera. I’ve seen phone photos that are far better than photos taken with a camera (and vice-versa). Partly it depends on the user? 🙂 But phone cameras have improved so much the past few years that they are excellent. And more importantly, they’re easily accessible so they are used. My husband finally had to give up his Blackberry this year when his company switched to iPhones.

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