Understanding Exposure eBook Review

by matt on April 12, 2012

Andrew S. Gibson - Understanding Exposure eBookI recently picked up Understanding Exposure – Perfect exposure on your EOS camera by Andrew S. Gibson.  This is the second book in a series aimed toward Canon EOS camera users.  I spent a few hours today going through this 79 page book and I really love the way the information is presented.

Here’s the thing about exposure; there is no “correct” exposure.  It really depends on what your creative vision is.  However, that being said, there are certain principles at work that every photographer needs to understand in order to take full advantage of their creative vision.  This book will provide you with that framework so that you will know how to make that “correct” exposure in just about any situation.

If you are anything like me I’m sure you know how frustrating it is to pull images off your memory card only to find many of them are either too dark or too light or not what you were wanting to achieve.  I’ve been there far too often.  Or, maybe you are a little confused about what all the exposure modes (P, Av, Tv, M, B) on your Canon EOS camera do, or how the different metering mode really work.  This book answers those questions and many more and puts that information to practical use.

The book is broken out into 3 sections.  Basic Concepts, Exposure on your EOS camera and Putting it all together.

The Basic Concepts section is where Andrew lays the foundation with discussions on how your camera actually measures light and why it often gets it wrong; the exposure triangle and how aperture, shutter speed and ISO interact to produce the correct exposure; what exposure values (Ev) are and how to make the histogram work for you.  One key topic in this section is on understanding what a stop is which I have always had some confusion on.  Andrew did a good job of explaining stops in layman’s terms and if I can understand it then you certainly can as well.

In the Exposure on your EOS camera section, Andrew builds the framework on the foundation from the basic concepts section.  This is the meat and potatoes where you delve into learning about your cameras exposure and metering modes and what situations they are best suited for.  Ever unknowingly bump that dial on the back of your camera and wonder why your images came out darker or lighter than you anticipated?  Well, you’ll learn all about that exposure compensation dial and how to use it to your advantage and how to lock it so you don’t accidentally bump it.  This section also goes into your cameras custom functions, using Live View (an awesome feature) and even making Bulb exposures.

Finally the Putting it all together sectionis where Andrew nails on the finishing touches and brings it all together with detailed explanations of the 3 basic exposure scenarios that describe just about any shooting situation.

  • Scenario One: The brightness range of the scene matches the dynamic range of the camera’s sensor
  • Scenario Two: The brightness range of the scene is less than the dynamic range of the camera’s sensor
  • Scenario Three: The brightness range of the scene is greater than the dynamic range of the camera’s sensor

Seriously, with the knowledge you now have you’ll be able to go out and shoot in just about any lighting situation and know how you need to adjust your camera to capture the scene with the optimal exposure.  What I found really valuable here was a discussion on how to reduce the amount of noise in your images by exposing to the right.

So who is this book for?  I think this book is for any beginning or amateur photographer that struggles with getting the right exposure.  If you are a pro then you probably already know everything in this book, but if you are just starting out and want to better understand all those settings on your Canon EOS camera then this is the book you want to get.  I’ve always said that the quintessential book on learning exposure is Bryan Peterson’s book Understanding Exposure but for Canon EOS shooters Andrew’s book is gold at £7 (~$11 USD).  But don’t let being a Nikon, Sony or Pentax shooter dissuade you from this book.  While the screen shots and settings information are Canon EOS specific the generic information on exposure is true for any digital camera and you would still find great value in this book.

What could make this book better?  Tough question!  I think Andrew covered the topic of exposure in excellent detail and in a way that those without much photography knowledge can understand.  Maybe including some specific exercises to help reinforce the concepts presented could be helpful.  For example, in the section on the exposure triangle there could be some exercises that test the readers knowledge of how the same exposure can be made with different combinations of ISO, aperture and shutter settings.  And this brings up an excellent point that while reading books like this can teach us many things and expand our knowledge base, the information is worthless if we don’t get out from behind the book and go out and actually shoot (I’m guilty!).  As much as great books like this can teach us, we grow more as photographers when we get out in the field and practice what we’ve learned.  So get out there and shoot as often as you can!

You can pick up Andrew’s Understanding Exposure eBook right now for £2 off by using code exposure2 at checkout.  This code works for all eBooks and bundles but expires at midnight on Monday April 30th.

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