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Unless you are already an expert on exposure, you will learn a lot from Exposure And Lighting.

Book Review: Exposure And Lighting: For Digital Photographers Only by Michael Meadhra and Charlotte K. Lowrie

When looking at the formal title for this book, Exposure And Lighting: For Digital Photographers Only, you may wonder about the “For Digital Photographers Only” portion. Isn’t light and exposure the same for film as well as digital photographers? According to the authors, it isn’t. With traditional film cameras you have a limited number of shutter speeds, f/stops, and ISO settings. With digital cameras, you have many more options available to you, as well as other sophisticated features built into the camera, so the rules have changed.

Exposure And Lighting focuses its efforts on these differences and attempts to help you bring out the best from your digital camera. The book is divided into 15 chapters further divided into four sections. There is also an appendix that lists the contributing photographers to the book.

Part 1, “Painting With Light” focuses on the nature of light and how, as a photographer, you record the light reflected from a scene and how you can manipulate what you want to bring out by deciding what to include and exclude. Then you learn of the color of light and how humans perceive color. This goes into how we perceive light and how the camera sees light. Discussed also is white balance and working with gray cards.

Part 2, “What’s Your Exposure” is all about exposure. It begins with balancing the elements of exposure by defining over and under exposures and how to determine the best exposure. Then you will learn how to measure the light by using a light meter. You will learn about both external, or hand-held meters, as well as the internal camera meter.

You will also learn about creative exposure choices. Here the authors get into the Zone System and how to use it within the realm of digital photography. They also get into controlling exposure by using shutter speed. They also go into how to understand shutter speed’s effect on exposure. Then they work toward your understanding of aperture’s effect on exposure and how you can use it to manipulate the image. Finally they describe dealing with digital film by using image preview and analysis, ISO Settings, and digital noise, as well as in-camera processing and file formats.

Part 3, “Put A Little Light On The Subject” begins with lighting tools and approaches to light, especially when natural light is not enough. You will learn of continuous lighting systems, hot lights, cool lights, flash, and strobe lighting systems, as well as built-in flash. They even describe what to look for in a lighting system if you are looking to purchase one. They finish up with making light available on location. Here you will look at adapting to existing light, working with daylight, atmospheric conditions, and working with available light indoors.

Part 4, “Lighting and Exposure for Specific Subjects”, breaks down differing lighting and exposure situations. The authors begin with portraitures, working with natural light as well as various forms of studio light. From here they go into action shots and shooting things that move whether it be sporting events or kid’s pets or people in motion. Next is photographing nature and my favorite area, landscapes.

From there, it is on to objects which include still life photos and commercial photography such as product and food photography. This would also include items that you would try to sell on eBay as well. Finally they conclude with Architectural photography such as exteriors and interiors, working with night shots and available light.

I really like the way this book is put together. It is a wealth of information in the form of an overview of the whole topic. Throughout the book, there are “notes” which give you extra information, “Pro tips” which give you suggestions on becoming more professional, “X-Ref” which point you to another chapter for more information about the current topic and a Q&A at the end of each chapter.

Many of the chapters that could be expanded into an entire book, but when starting out to understand the subject of lighting and exposure, it is helpful to work with all aspects because you never know what situation you will find yourself in. Unless you are already an expert on exposure, you will learn a lot from Exposure And Lighting.

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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