I just finished reading his latest book Understanding Shutter Speed, which is the companion book (part 2) to Understanding Exposure and was blown away.
But before I get into the new book (Shutter Speed), let me talk about Understanding Exposure, as it is a must for anybody getting into photography, (any photographer really), and is the building block on which his latest book was built.
Learning photography can be a bit overwhelming with all that makes up a good picture - ISO, shutter speed, and aperture (what Bryan calls the "photographic triangle") to name just a few of the variables. It's much like learning to drive a standard shift car, not only do you have both feet and both hands going, you have to do it in the right sequences, and all while watching the road and the other cars on it. A bit overwhelming, and if it doesn't go well at first, you don't want to do it again. And if you don't have a good teacher, you'll never do very well and forever stall at stop lights.
Well, with Understanding Exposure if Bryan was teaching you how to drive, you would be doing it like Mario Andretti.
It starts with first chapter "Defining Exposure" - "what is meant by exposure" where Bryan explains exactly what an exposure is, and how for every situation there are six correct exposures, but only one creatively correct exposure.
Then he moves on to chapters on "Aperture", "Shutter Speed", "Light" and ends with "Special Techniques".
And it's not just the topics that are covered, but how they are covered. In each chapter you will find the following:
1. Thorough and thoughtful explanations of the chapter topics, presented in a way that if this were the first time you ever picked up a camera you would never feel lost or confused. It's one thing to know a lot about a subject, it's another thing to be able to share it with others and few do it as well as Bryan Peterson.
2. Each chapter is filled with Bryans stunning images, with multiple examples of the point he is trying to make. Not only does he provide you with every camera setting that was used to create the image, he tells you from where within the image he metered from. It is one thing to read a point a person is trying to make, it is another to actually see it.
3. The final piece to each chapter (I think the most important) are the exercises. For every point Bryan is trying to drive home, there are accompanying hands on exercises where you have to take your camera, the book and apply the things you just learned before moving on to the next subject/concept.
It just doesn't get any better than this book. I believe this to be one of the (if not THE) best book for learning photography I have ever read.
So when Understanding Shutter Speed came out this month I was wondering what to expect, much like when the sequel comes out for your favorite movie, you're fearful that that there is no way it can be as good as the first one, and you'll just wind up being disappointed.
When I read this in the books introduction - "All of the known techniques for capturing, conveying, and creating movement in a single still photograph are covered in this book in a simple, clear, and concise format, with examples taken from dawn to dusk, and into the dark of night..." I could not wait to read on.
And I was not disappointed, not even close.
He shows you how to take photographs in all of these different lighting situations without ever using an ISO above 400, in fact rarely above ISO 200.
Speaking of ISO, Bryan gives one the best explanations of ISO I have read, he compared it to carpenters building a house, that 400 carpenters may be able to build a house faster than 100, but 400 carpenters will also make much more noise while doing so.
One of (the many) valuable lessons he provides in this book is that "1. You will always attain the fastest possible shutter speed at any given ISO when you use the largest possible lens opening, and 2. you will be able to attain the slowest possible shutter speed at any given ISO by using the smallest possible lens opening." There is much more that goes with this statement, but you'll have to buy the book to find out what it is.
The chapters include "Shutter Speed Facts & Myths", "Fast & Moderates Speeds", "Slow Speeds" and more. And like the first book there are easy to understand explanations of the different shutter concepts, Bryans beautiful photography to reinforce those concepts, and more of those important hands on exercises meant to be the final piece of the learning puzzle.
Someone can explain to you how to drive a standard shift car, and you may fully grasp and understand what needs to be done, but until you actually get behind the wheel, you can't drive a car. Photography is no different, reading is one thing, doing is another.
I read Understanding Shutter Speed from cover to cover in one sitting (which as kinda easy as it has way more pictures than words) and then read it a second time, taking the time to stop and do the exercises.
Information is power, and with these two books Bryan Peterson will make you feel like a king.
My dog-eared copy of "Understanding Exposure"