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Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies

Shoot Like the Pros!
Create Eye-Catching Photos!
Turn Snapshots into Great Images!

Book: Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies

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So you want to be a better photographer!

This page can be the first step to your new photographic future. First, scroll down and take a quick look at the photos on this page. Then come back here and learn how the information and step-by-step activities in Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies will turn you into a better photographer.

This is one of the highest rated photography books at and it is highly recommended by photographers at every skill level from beginners to professionals. Professional photographer Tim Grey (with 12 books and hundreds of magazine articles to his credit) says Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies "can dramatically improve the quality of your digital photos."

You will be guided through the process of mastering the technical skills that are essential to unleashing your artistic potential. Then you will be given the creative tools to turn snapshots into beautiful images.

You are getting three books in one: two exposure books, plus an introduction to digital photography.

Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies has more detailed coverage of exposure information and techniques than almost any other book currently on the market. It covers some exposure topics in detail that many other books don't even mention, so you are getting a beginners book and an advanced book all in one. No need to go out and buy a second or third book as your photography skills grow.

Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies is also an introduction to digital photography, covering the most popular and important photographic topics. Put more zip in your people photography. Create dynamic landscapes.  Make eye-popping flowers photos. Add some fun and drama to your wildlife images. Tackle sports photography. Explore the fascinating world of close-up photography. Discover the wonders of night and low light photography.

Whether you are a beginner or an advanced photographer, Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies will show you how to dramatically improve the quality of your images. It will show you the simple things the pros do to turn ordinary snapshots into great photos (and plenty of advanced techniques too). You will be a better photographer!

The rest of this page will show you how Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies will turn you in to a better photographer.

On this page:

Why Exposure Is So Important
Magazine Reviews
The Fun Stuff You Will Explore
The Technical Stuff You will Master
What the Pros say about Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies
The Teaching, Workshop, and Field Trip Experience Behind The Book
The Camera You Will Need to Enjoy This Book
What If You Shoot Film?
Links to More Information
Purchase Links
A Gallery of Photos


The Strip, Las Vegas

The Strip, Las Vegas

Why Exposure Is So Important

"Vision without technique is blind. No matter how beautiful the conception, a good image will not manifest without good technique."
                       - Dewitt Jones, National Geographic and commercial photographer

Exposure is at the heart of the photographic process. Taking control of the technical side of exposure is essential to empowering your creative vision. If you don't master exposure, you will never reach your full creative and artistic potential.

Your camera can't read your artistic mind. It doesn't know ho light or dark you want a scene to look. It doesn't know if you want a little depth of field or a lot. Your camera doesn't know if you want to keep a moving subject sharp and the background blurred, or the subject blurred and the background sharp, or both sharp, or both blurred. Every exposure decision is also an artistic decision. If you have your camera on auto exposure,  you have turned over the artistic decisions to a computer chip.

Left on auto exposure, your camera will give you average exposures of average scenes, but it won't give you the best exposures of every scene.

The best exposures will also give you the best colors your camera is capable of producing. If you miss in the ideal exposure by more than a half stop, colors will shift in different directions and no amount of Photoshop can correct them.

For more information, read the detailed article. "Why Is Exposure So Important?" There are also some examples below.

Mt Hunter, Alaska from the Air

Magazine Reviews

Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies receives
the highest rating from Digital SLR Photography,
the "UK's biggest photography magazine".

Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies receives
A++ rating from Apogee Photo Magazine.

    "There's 'bite-sized' information, which doesn't prove too much to take in, and plenty of images to accompany the text." (Digital SLR Photography, January 2011).

    "... this is a breakdown of the subject of exposure explained in concise chapters, complete with pulled-out top tips and notes." (Digital Camera Essentials, January 2011)

    "... clear layout and accessible writing make this a good buy for photographers."  (Amateur Photographer, February 2011).

    "Full of top tips for exposing your images correctly ... delivers exactly what you would want it to." (Digital Photographer, February 2011).


Great Gray Owl

Great Gray Owl, Michigan's Upper Peninsula

The Fun Stuff You Will Explore


Lela, one light portrait

One Light Portrait

Is your thing portrait photography? Or maybe you just want to learn how to take better photos of your family and friends. There are lots of suggestions for metering, lighting, posing, using lens focal lengths and perspective control, indoor and outdoor portraits, and a lot more. And you don't always need a lot of fancy equipment. The photo above was taken with a single household light bulb. There is also information on how to use natural light, a simple flash (both on and off camera), and a full set of studio lights.

Window Blind Portrait


California Poppies

 California Poppies

If your thing is flower photography, there are lots of ideas in the book to make your flower photos stand out from the crowd. You will learn how to take control of your camera in tricky lighting situations that will fool your camera meter (like the backlit photo above). You will explore how to use different focal lengths effectively. You will experiment with camera positions since a few feet, or even a few inches, can make a dramatic difference in your photos. You will learn creative uses of depth of field for including the landscape around the flowers and how to make everything but the flower a gauzy blur. 


Denali at ReflectionPond

 Denali (Mt. McKinley) at Reflection Pond, Alaska

More photos are taken of people and landscapes than anything else. Hordes of people hop out of cars, vans, and buses to take photos of a grand landscape, and many of them go home with snapshots that are as ordinary as millions of other snapshots taken every year. Learn how to take landscape photos that stand out from the crowd, the kind you would be proud to frame and hang on your living room wall. You will discover the simple things the pros do to create memorable landscape images. You will learn how to work with the light rather than fight the light. As you explore the intensity, quality, direction, and temperature of the light, you will know what kind of photos will and won't work in each lighting situation. A whole new world will open up to you. Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies will show you several ways to master depth of field to create the "artistic look" you want. Suggestions for working with time and location and well established landscape techniques will give you the edge in your landscape skills.


Pika, Colorado

 Pika in the Tundra, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado


It happens a lot. Someone shows off a photo and says, "See that little speck there? That's a _______." (Fill in the blank with the animal of your choice.) Wildlife photography can be a challenge. Animals are unpredictable, they don't stay put like mountains and trees, and they won't pose for you like your friends, and they are rather reluctant to let people get close to them. But there is good news. You can learn how to find wildlife, how to get closer to them (without stressing them out), and how to meter and overcome other technical challenges to take some impressive wildlife photos. And you don't have to break the bank to buy the equipment you need to get the job done. Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies will show you how, teach you some of the tricks of the trade, and help you avoid the terrible inconvenience of being eaten alive.


Cougar, Illinois

Cougar, Wilderness Prairie Park, Illinois


It's only hard until you know how. A tripod and a little bit of knowledge will help you capture images that most people think are hard to do. You won't need "lightning quick" reflexes or any special equipment to capture lightning bolts in the sky. It is all in knowing how.


Lightning Over Yukon Oklahoma

Lightning Over Yukon, Oklahoma


There are all kinds of things you can do to open up the world of night and low light photography. Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies will be your key. Simple steps will guide you along the path to making complicated photography much easier to understand. Whether it is capturing the Northern Lights in Alaska or fireworks over the Las Vegas Strip, you will know what to do.


Northern Lights, Alaska

Northern Lights, Denali National Park, Alaska


Fireworks, Las Vegas

Fireworks, Las Vegas


The Technical Stuff You Will Master

Mastering the technical stuff will empower your art!

If you want to be your best, learning the technical stuff will set you free to explore the creative side of photography. If you don't learn the technical side of photography, it will get in the way of creating the kind of images you want to create.

The foundation for better images is to master exposure. Parts I and II of the book cover the basics and then leads you through some advanced exposure concepts and techniques that many books don't even mention. The exposure information in Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies is one of the most clear, detailed, and comprehensive you can find in a single photography book. There is a special emphasis on the artistic potential that is unleashed when you understand how to take control of your exposure options.

Why learn about exposure? Why not let the camera do it all?

1. Sometimes your camera gets it all wrong! Despite all of the wonderful, whiz-bang technology in your camera, there are times it will totally miss the right exposure, and the times your camera meter gets it wrong are often the situations with the most dramatic potential. An example is this pair of photos below. In the photo on the left, the camera made the exposure decision. In the photo on the right, I made the exposure decision.  Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies will guide you through tricky exposure situations so you will know in advance when the camera will be fooled and what to do about it.

Long's Peak and Nymph Lake in Dramatic, High Contrast Sunset Light


2. Every exposure decision is also an artistic decision! If you don't master exposure, you will never reach your full artistic potential. There are multiple combinations of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO speed that will give you exactly the same exposure, but very different artistic "looks". Knowing which combination to choose can make the difference between a great image and a disappointing one. If you leave your camera on auto exposure, you have turned the artistic decisions over to a computer chip. If you take control of exposure yourself, you open the door to all kinds of creative and wonderful possibilities in terms of exposure, subject motion, and depth of field (the "near to far" sharpness in an image).


Hibiscus, Ohio
Image Created with Minimal Depth of Field


Point Iroquois Lighthouse, Michigan

Point Iroquois Lighthouse, Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Image Created with Maximum Depth of Field


3. There's magic in the creative side of exposure. Your camera is designed to give you "average" exposures but the average exposure isn't always the best creative exposure. Sometimes the technically correct exposure isn't the best artistic exposure. Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies will show you when you need to take control of the exposure process and how to do it. Knowing when to override the camera's automatic exposure with a better creative exposure can make the difference between an ordinary looking photo and a beautiful image you will be proud of.

Saiblotat at Sunset, Lake Michigan

Sailboat at Sunset, Lake Michigan


What The Professionals Say About
Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies

What can this book do for you?

    "I've recently discovered a book that helps photographers truly understand exposure , and that knowledge can dramatically improve the quality of your digital photos. The book is Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies, authored by Jim Doty, Jr., and published by Wiley. This book provides you with everything a photographer needs to know in order to truly understand exposure and how it affects the original capture."  (Tim Grey, digital photography expert, author of a dozen photography books and hundreds of photo magazine articles.)

    "Loved this book, and the author's easy to follow writing style. I am a professional photographer, and was given this book as a gift.  It is a great reference book, and an awesome tool for learning."   (Jennifer Blakeley, the talented creator of Alphabet Photography and beautiful portraits at Jennifer Blakeley PhotographyShe is nationally recognized in Canada for her human alphabet project with Gymnastics Canada and the 2012 Olympic Team.)

    "As a photo teacher for over 30 years, I only wish this book had been available earlier. In a heart beat I would have assigned this book as text for all of my photo classes from Basic Camera to Advanced.   (Jim Lehman, photography instructor and creator of the Black Cat Exposure Guide.)

    "I have long enjoyed photography both as part of my vocation, and as a rewarding avocation. What I found was that Doty's book helped me understand how to better understand and control the dimensions of photography that distinguish mere snapshots from true artistic expressions.  (Jim Hannah, professional photographer and former magazine editor.)

Read more reviews from professionals, advanced photographers, and beginners (and a longer version of the above reviews).


Boy in a blue hat

Small Boy in a Blue Hat


The Teaching, Workshop, and
Field Trip Experience Behind
Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies


Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies grew out of years of experience teaching photography to photographers of all skill levels. I currently teaches at The Ohio State University, and my prior faculty experience includes the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts in Michigan and Graceland University in Iowa. The ideas, concepts, and exercises in Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies have been tested in classes, workshops, and seminars, and just as important, they have been honed in hundreds of hours leading photography field trips and providing individual, practical instruction to photographers of all experience levels. As you read this book, imagine me at your side, providing the same kind of valuable help that I have provided to hundreds of other photographers.


Gilrlwith candle

Girl with Candle

The Camera You Will Need
To Enjoy This Book

Warning: Some point-and-shoot cameras make it difficult to control exposure which can lead to endless frustration. Even worse, some point-and-shoot cameras give you no control at all over your exposures. If your camera is holding you back artistically, you may need a better camera. If your camera is getting in your way and you want a better camera, don't say you weren't warned.

Years of teaching photography to all kinds of people is proof that just about anyone who wants to improve the quality of their images can do so with the right kind of guidance. If you are ready, this is the book for you!

Mackinac Bridge, Michigan

Mackinac Bridge, Michigan

What If You Shoot Film?

Despite the title, this book is still for you. Many of the photos in the book were shot on film (including some of the photos on this page). The principles of exposure are the same for both film and digital photography, even if the application is a little different. 95% of this book applies to film photography.


A Final Thought

I love photography, and I love watching the light go on as other photographers discover new ways to do things to improve their photography. I hope you have a great time reading my book and and an even better time going out with your camera and trying what you've read. Most of all, sometime in the future I hope you look back and say, "Wow! Look how far I've come!" Send me an e-mail and tell me what this book did for you.


Brainard Lake, colorado

Brainard Lake, Indian Peaks Wilderness, Colorado


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Autographed copes are $29.95 which includes shipping in the continental U.S. To order an autographed copy, contact me directly.

Links To More Information


Table of Contents

A Detailed Look at the Contents

The Story Behind the Book

All of the photos in the book

Photo Accessories As promised in the book (Chapter 18 - Ten Accessories to Make Your Life Easier), Chapter 18 is being expanded here on my web site into an Accessories Section with additional content and more illustrations. Enjoy!

Teasers. These articles will give you an idea what you will discover inside the book. They are short online versions of the more comprehensive and detailed information in the book.
Using Reflected Light Meters, Part One
Using Reflected Light Meters, Part Two
Simplify Your Life with an Incident Light Meter
Using a Gray Card, Incident Light Metering on the Cheap

Reviews of Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies.

Apogee Photo Magazine gives high marks to Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies.

Digital SLR Photography Magazine Gives Top Rating to Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies

What the pros say about Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies.
What experienced photographers say about Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies.
What beginning photographers say about Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies.


"Least Chipmunk, Indian Peaks Wilderness, Colorado

Purchase Links

Barnes & Noble


More information and purchase links at


Howitzers, U.S. Military Academy, West Point, NT


A Gallery of Photos


Natural light Portrait

Natural Light Portrait


Window Light Portrait

Window Light Portrait


Lifestyle Portrait


Fitness Portrait with Studio Lights


Casual Outdoor Portrait

Casual Outdoor Portrait


Studio Light Portrait

Studio Light Portrait


Location Portrait


Casual Couples Portrait


Backlight Portrait


Army Football

Army Football


Shannon Miller, Olympic Gold Medalist

Shannon Miller, Olympic Gold Medalist


On the Track


Aspen, Colorado


Double Arch, Arches National Park, Utah


Dusk, Mo’orea, French Polynesia

Dusk, Mo'orea, French Polynesia


Paintbrush, Aspen Bole and Evergreen Needles, Colorado

Morning Snow at Bryce Canyon, Utah


Mt. Rundle and Two Jack Lake, Banff National Park


Autumn at Tahquamenon Falls, Michigan


Yellow Fringed Orchid, Bishop’s Bog Nature Preserve, Michigan

Yellow Fringed Orchid, Bishop's Bog Nature Preserve, Michigan


Buffalo Treehopper

Buffalo Treehopper


Star Trails,  Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Star Trails, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado


Pizza  Sign

Neon Pizza Sign


November 9, 2010
Updated Nov. 17, 2014

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