Recommended Books for Photographers

Exposure and the zone system

The books below has been picked by the editor of DPanswers as the best books about exposure and the zone system.

The Negative
by Ansel Adams
The Negative is the classic work were Ansel Adams (1902-1984) introduced the the Zone System to a larger audience. Since its initial publication in 1948, it was revised several times. This is a reprint of the final edition (from 1981). This book is seminal reading for any student of photography, and is still the best introduction to the Zone System. While not written for the absolute beginner, this book is a must for the serious photographer who has mastered the basics and want to take greater control over how his or her images appear.
Photographer and teacher Chris Johnson was a friend and student of the late Ansel Adams, who originated the Zone System. This work is one of the most accessible introductions to the system. It explains clearly how the photographer can control the tonal and dynamic range of his or her photographs. The book goes into great detail about contrast control, and how to use a zone scale of grey areas linking the subject to shutter-speed and exposure choices. It also tells you how to analyse the diverse elements in a scene, and how to use this data to optimise post-processing and printing.
The two previous titles (by Adams and Johnson) are best suited for the intermediate and advanced student of exposure. For the beginner that finds the subject of exposure overwhelming and confusing, Bryan Petersons introductory book demystifies the subject. The book introduces the photographic exposure triangle (aperture, shutter speed, and ISO). It also has a chapter about light, telling you how to achieve correct exposure in difficult situations, including backlight, low light, night, snow, and overcast sky. It is now revised and updated to cover digital photograhy, including white balance, flash, and HDR. Petersen is a bit overenthusiastic about working fully manual for my liking, but learning not to rely on the automatic exposure modes and using the camera manually is probably very good for learning. But you should not feel too guilty about going back to the speed and convenience of the automatic exposure modes after you've mastered manual exposure.
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