Understanding Exposure - My Take

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Boomn4x4, Apr 8, 2010.

  1. Boomn4x4

    Boomn4x4 TPF Noob!

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    Just got done reading Understanding Exposure (Bryan Peterson) last night, and after all the talk about it here, I'd have to say that I was a bit disapointed.

    It did do a great job of explaining aperture, and shutter speed... but honestly, there wasn't any earth shattering information in there that I didn't already get from much of the reading I have done on variouis Internet sites.

    The other thing I did really like was how each of Peterson's photos had very nice descriptions on how he acheived the results. Having aperture and shutter data is always nice, but he often went far and beyond by explaining how he composed the subject and what effect he was going for. It would really help to use these as examples, and the book makes a great guide.

    The one area I did benefit quite a bit from were the sections on metering... specifically "Mr. Blue Sky" and "Mr. Green Jeans" Of all the things I took out of the book, metering off of the sky or green areas in the case of a lot of green, is the one thing that will improve my photography the most.

    As for the dissapointments... ISO. The first few pages of the book, Peterson pointed out how important the exposure triangle is... ISO, Shutter Speed, and Aperture. Then after the first few pages, ISO dissapears from the face of the planet. It isn't until he gets to "film v digital" before ISO is really mentioned again. As a matter of fact, at one point, he acutally stated that he never changes his ISO speed. If ISO is so critical to the exposure triangle, then why do I know nothing more about using it in my photography than before I read the book? Even as a beginner, I have to question the expert here and say that I feel ISO is much more important than he led onto in the book and I feel like I missed quite a bit here.

    Flash photography. I know this subject entails entire books on its own... but lets face it, flash photography IS very much apart of acheiving proper exposures. One of the things I struggle most with, is acheiving good results using the flash. For a "beginners" book on understanding exposure, I really feel like Peterson wiffed big time on this one by not including it. Especially since he took the time to go into detail on filters, "exploding" shots, and multiple exposures. I would have rather gotten 4 pages of using a flash than an entire chapter of using filters.

    Bottom line... its a decent book and worth the $17 I paid for it. But it didn't come any where close to living up to my expecations that I got from reading about the book and the recommendations I recieved on it.
     
  2. Goontz

    Goontz TPF Noob!

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    It's not meant to be earth shattering. It's meant to explain the basics and give someone who is completely new a good handle on the fundamentals. Sure, you can read the stuff all over the internet but this is in one simple book and, most likely, with better explanations and examples.

    Agreed. Very cool to see not only the final result but also story about it and his thought process. Another book that I think you'd enjoy, which also does this, is Within The Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision by David duChemin.

    I agree that ISO can be important, but there's not much to explain aside from it changing how sensitive your camera's sensor is to light. Too much elaboration on ISO and I think you'd be asleep. You really only need to ever increase the ISO if you have a very specific need for a shutter speed that you can't get at a lower level (be it subject in motion or no tripod with you). Since higher ISO also introduces noise, it's best to keep it as low as you can get away with. In Peterson's case, I think most things he shoots are still, so he can just use a tripod and "never" change his ISO.

    Exactly. It can also quickly get beyond the level of this book's target audience. To a pure beginner, using anything but the pop-up flash could be quite overwhelming.

    :thumbup: At least you did get something from it. Now you could pass it on to someone else to learn from.
     
  3. Vinny

    Vinny TPF Noob!

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    Here's my take on ISO and flash, I grew up in the film era. I have read 2 books on photography - back then "Joy of Photography" and today "Fundamentals of Photography" to brush up and to learn more about digital.

    ISO is important but not as important as shutter speed and aperture. Back in the days of film, you stuck a certain ISO (or if you go really back ASA) film in the camera and took photos. If you were underexposed, you either changed the aperture, shutter speed or both; if you reached the limits - you used flash. Overexposed - the same but could also use a neutral density filter. You were pretty much stuck with the film that was in the camera until you used the roll of 12, 24 or 36. (not quite sure if a 250 bulk pack could be removed). Yes, you could remove the film but it was a PITA to do. There was push processing but I believe it was only good for going up 1 ISO and it had issues as well.

    Flash is a great tool to use for low light situations, for highlighting and portraits (this may require a little more specialized equipment). It used to be you needed to calculate the distance from the main flash to the subject, the aperture, shutter speed and ISO to get the correct exposure. Honestly, I used a Vivitar 283 back then and it did have a light sensor on it (I'm sure crude by today's standard); but I did use it every so often in manual mode to get it to fire it's full flash. Back when I was learning, bounce was a new concept for the non professional and most people used a forward firing flash. The best type of light is bounced, it gives an even light and isn't harsh but has it's drawbacks - if you bounce off a colored wall, you get that color tone and light falls off according to the inverse square law(1/((distance)(distance))). So if you bounce the light 3 feet and it takes another 3 feet to get to the subject you are going 6 feet (1/(6*6)). The best uses for bounce IMO is the white reflector that sits right above the flash; I couldn't afford that back then so I used a white tissue over the flash lens to eliminate the harshness.

    Today with digital you're not stuck with a certain ISO for 36 photos (or worse 250) but can change every setting as you go and that "triangle" becomes more important as long as you realize what limitations or benefits each has. As far as flash, I only have the on camera (can't afford to buy a flash) and it's good enough for now. But with TTL (not sure if it works in manual) or with what I mentioned above and the fact you can see results immediately, experiment until you get the results you want.

    Hope this helps!
     
  4. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Question to ask yourself. Can I duplicate everything illustrated in the book without referring to the book? If yes, then it is time to move on. Goontz suggestion is a good one. If not then perhaps a second reading would be useful.

    As for flash photography, I can understand the lack of coverage. What Peterson covers is the basis of proper exposure. Photography is the art of painting with light.

    I find that a good number of people have difficulty with using a flash because they forget the three basics of proper exposure. All a flash unit is, is light. Once you understand the light that the flash provides and the limitations of the equipment, getting good results becomes much easier. It still doesn't change the relationship of Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO.
     

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