Friday , February 23 2024
Do you want to learn about the light?

Video Training Review: ‘Exposed’ by Gavin Seim

Exposed is a journey that takes you across the western United States in order to explore light, the way it works, and how it changes. It took place over the course of more than four months and in excess of 15,000 miles. It covers 10 states including Washington, Oregon, Utah, and California. It also travels to many places including Mount Saint Helens in Washington State, the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, and to White Sands in New Mexico to show you how to understand light and how it affects your photography in a wide variety of situations.


The goal of Exposed is not to show you the steps to create a great photograph, but rather it is to give you the ability to learn the concepts and techniques of exposure and light so that you can see it and work with it in any situation. The training comes on a DVD or as digital download. The interface is very easy to use and Exposed is fast loading, presented in high definition video, and breaks out into 14 chapters that run 4 hours and 30 minutes in length.

Chapter 1, “Hitting the Road (11:37),” begins with an explanation of what this training is and what it is not – that it is not step-by-step but rather a thorough understanding of light. It will explore how to build your vision of the final output and how to go about to produce that vision.

Chapter 2, “Exposure Foundations (23:12),” describes the core fundamental concepts of how you need to approach working with light. Here you will look at how aperture, shutter speed, and ISO are used to capture light and how changing one affects the others as well as how you can control each of these in differing scenarios. You will also see how to measure the light using different kinds of meters.


Chapter 3, “The Zones (30:55),” examines in detail the use of the Zone System to manage your light. Here you will learn about the zone scale and how it relates to your image and how you can use it to manage your exposure. In this chapter you will see, through several examples how to use the Zone System and the fundamental principles that make it so useful.

Chapter 4, “Zones and Tones (17:21),” further examines the Zone System by taking in the tonal qualities of light in the scene that you are shooting. In this case it looks at White Sands, New Mexico where the qualities of the individual zones of the scene are close together – one zone difference, and here he shows you how you can better control the tones in your images.


Chapter 5, “Visualizing (18:23),” is not the process of taking pictures, but rather a method in which you creating a photograph and pieces of artwork. It encompasses the idea of putting together a plan for creating that work of art. It is the process of seeing in the mind’s eye what you are trying to say through your images. Here you will see how to create your image, how to draw your audience into the main subject, and how to enhance important parts and diminish distractions.

Chapter 6, “Light Ratios (14:02),” discusses the language of contrast. That is, they are the difference between the highlight and the shadow. First you will see how ratios work and how they affect your photographs. Then you will see how to communicate using ratios. This can be important when working in a studio and with an assistant in setting up a shot.

Chapter 7, “Seeing Light (12:06),” now looks at how to come into a scene and really think through what you want to do. How to think about the range, think about the stops, what the subject is, do you need to augment light, do you need to come back when the ambient light is different? Here you will see how to determine exactly what you are trying to accomplish in a scene and how are you going to capture it.


Chapter 8, “Dynamic Range (22:53),” discusses how High Dynamic Range (HDR) relates to exposure. Here you will see that HDR is not a style, but rather it is the management of the dynamic ranges of light that occur in a scene and how to pull out details from the image that you want. Sometimes this is done using bracketing and the use of software to tone map the images, sometimes this is done using bracketing and the use of masking to bring out some areas, sometimes it is handled in just one image, sometimes it is through the use of added light, and other times it is in software techniques like dodging and burning. This chapter explains about your different options.

Chapter 9, “Long Exposures (34:20),” can be a very powerful tool to use in your image. Here the author explores the use of Neutral Density filters to allow you to do longer exposure during both the daylight and nighttime hours. Here you will see how to create long exposure of star trails, shooting the moon, creating silky water movement, and other types of images.


Chapter 10, “Space, Line, Tone (17:31),” now examines composition and how it can affect your exposure. Through the proper visualization you can save yourself post processing time. This chapter looks at images and how the space, lines, tone, and compositions affect the images.

Chapter 11, “Image Finishing (31:55),” talks about carrying the vision through to completion. The author begins with a talk about visualization in the field – but now with a more focused eye toward post-processing. Then you will see how they are finished into the final image through dodging, burning, pixel painting, as well as other techniques.

Chapter 12, “Connecting the Dots (23:20),” now takes all that you have learned so far and puts it together in a “big picture” sort of way all the way from pre-visualization through post-production. This is done by understanding light and understanding exposure and how to use the zone system so that you have the best ability to create a great exposure. You will also see how to shoot in caverns where there is no natural light.

Chapter 13, “Directing Light (13:27),” discusses light modifiers to modify the existing light in a given situation. The ones discussed are constant light sources, reflectors, flashes, strobes, and compact light panels. Here you will see how each kind of modifier can be used to affect your image.


Chapter 14, “In Closing (5:03),” finishes up by taking in all that you should have learned in watching this series of videos. This is a recap of the course and what you should take away from viewing it.

Exposed is both entertaining and educational. It is very much a conversational exposé that takes you through all aspects of working a photograph to capture exactly what see in the field.

Exposed has a nice balance of field work combined with studio work and is all done with a defined goal in mind. There is a lot of discussion on the use of the Zone System and it provides a good foundation for working with it.

Exposed is $99 and can be found at the Seim Effects. You can also watch a video that describes the training as well. If you want to learn more about exposure, if you have always wondered about using the Zone System, or if you just want to see how another photographer approaches creating photographs, then I can very highly recommend Exposed.

About T. Michael Testi

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

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