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Understanding Shutter Speed – a Book Review

Understanding-Shutter-Speed-ReviewThis week a package containing Bryan Peterson’s new book – Understanding Shutter Speed arrived in my letter box from Amazon.

When I first saw it listed in the new release section I was a little skeptical that a book soley focussing upon one aspect of photography (shutter speed) was a book that I’d learn much from but as Peterson is the author of one of the best books going around on the topic of Photography (Understanding Exposure – a book that one of our forum moderators reviewed here) I thought I’d buy it anyway.

I’m glad I did. I’ll tell you up front – I’m giving this book a rating of 4 out of 5 stars. But let me tell you why.

The full title of this book is Understanding Shutter Speed: Creative Action and Low-Light Photography Beyond 1/125 Second and I found it to be a great companion book to Peterson’s previous book.

Sections in the book cover:

  1. Shutter Speed Facts and Myths – a short section with some good introductory ideas
  2. Fast and Moderate Speeds – Peterson walks us through different speeds and how they can be useful
  3. Slow Speeds – the longest section of the book which again looks at different speeds and how they can be use. He also covers panning, ‘painting’ with shutter speed and more
  4. Exposure Concerns – he covers filters, RAW, rear curtain flash sync and other matters of exposure
  5. Composition – some excellent basic composition teaching as it pertains to shutter speed

The highlight of the book for me is in the images included in and around the teaching. They serve as great illustrations of what is being taught and left me with lots of ideas for future shoots. The pictures come with good captions which talk you through what you’re looking at – something that I valued – perhaps even more than the main teaching in the book itself!

The teaching itself is good. Perhaps not quite as in depth or as authoritative as Understanding Exposure – but a good introduction to a topic that is vital for new photographers to get their heads around if they want to get out of Auto mode and learn to creatively control their cameras.

Who is this book for?

You’ve already heard me talk about beginners and I think that this book will help less experienced photographers more than those who already have a good grasp on concepts like Shutter Speed. Having said that – I found it to be a good refresher course of sorts and did come away from the book grateful for having read it despite having learned much of it previously.

If it was a choice between Understanding Shutter Speed and Peterson’s previous Understanding Exposure I would probably invest my money with the first and broader edition – but do think that most readers would also enjoy this one.


I’m going to give this one 4 stars out of 5. It’s not a book that covers all aspects of photography but for what it sets out to do it does very well.

You can get Understanding Shutter Speed from Amazon for $16.47 at present.

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Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse

is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals.

He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

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