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Explains how to approach capturing the shot you want to get your singular vision of the world.

Book Review – Photo Workshop: Exposure by Jeff Wignall

Jeff Wignall compares extracting good exposures in your photography to befriending a wild-born kitten. While the kitten (and image) may be beautiful to look at, you just aren’t sure how best to catch it. You certainly won't get as many scratches on your arms from trying to capture a photo, but it can be equally as frustrating when thing don't turn out as you would like

The goal of Photo Workshop: Exposure is to show you how to approach capturing the shot you want; that singular vision of the world that you have, and share that vision with others. It comprises 299 pages divided into 11 chapters.

Chapter 1, "The Art of Exposure," explains how the results from a great exposure are far greater than the sum of its steps. A good capture results from the most basic of tools and techniques, and is the product of routine technical choices. Here you will see exactly what exposure is, and what you need to do to take charge of your exposures. Chapter 2, "Exposure Controls: A Primer," looks at what it takes to get a great exposure using any kind of camera. In this chapter you will look at the relationship between ISO, Aperture, and shutter speed, and how they affect exposure

Chapter 3, "Measure the Light," explains that irrespective of any equipment that you are using, the most important item in getting a great shot is knowing precisely how much light is in the scene. This chapter shows you how to measure the light. Here you see how light meters work, how spot metering works, how to work with handheld meters, and what situations can fool meters. You will also learn about the Zone System. Chapter 4, "Lens Apertures and Depth of Field," examines how the change in aperture also results in the change in the depth of field, and it also looks at the creative power of depth of field.

Chapter 5, "Shutter Speed and Subject Motion," describes that like the use of aperture to control the amount of light entering into the camera, you can also use the speed of the shutter to control the amount of light. Where the aperture controls the depth of field, you will learn how shutter speed controls the interpretation of motion. Chapter 6, "Training Wheels Off: Going Beyond Green Mode," takes you away from the automatic exposure modes, and looks at speciality modes like aperture-priority, shutter-priority, and full manual modes.

Chapter 7, "Natural Light Exposures," explains how to capture the many different qualities of natural light. Here you first get a daylight primer, then you will see how to work with white balance, lighting direction, backlighting, and learn how to deal with the different qualities of light. Chapter 8, "The Easy Way Out: Simplifying Difficult Situations," now takes a look at problem situations. These are problems because of too much, or too little light, bright whites and low key subjects, and dealing with high contrast subjects.

Chapter 9, "Photography After Dark," examines the fact that you don't have to pack up when the sun goes down. Here you will see what you need to take quality exposures after dark. These can be anything from street lights to fire work shows. Chapter 10, "Special Considerations: Weather and Natural Phenomena," will show you how to tackle subjects like fog and mist, stormy skies, rainbows, autumn scenes, and sunrises and sunsets.

Chapter 11, "Flash Photography," looks your different options for the use of flash. These fall in to three categories. The first is built in flash, then there is accessory flash; the kind you attach to a hot-shoe on your camera, and then there is dedicated flash which is set up to communicate to your camera and it knows what the settings are on your camera and is able to adjust for those settings.

Photo Workshop: Exposure is very easy reading, and develops through a well defined, logical progression covering most aspects of getting the best exposure. It is great for beginners who want to try to work out the complexities of getting a good exposure, but are still not comfortable enough to go into all of the gory details of the mathematics involved. It provides a reasonable amount of depth so as not to scare anyone off, and yet does not gloss over what is really need to know to form a good foundation; something that is really hard to balance properly.

Additional things I like about Photo Workshop: Exposure; and the series in general is that most of the photos have an "about this photo" caption where, when appropriate, the technical information is presented about the image and the assignment sections for each chapter. These give you an opportunity to work out on your own and experiment with additional techniques that will help your photography grow. I very highly recommend this book.

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About T. Michael Testi

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

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