Exposure Bracketing

Beginners Intro to Exposure Bracketing

In Tutorials by Stefano CaioniLeave a Comment

Exposure bracketing is a technique and camera feature that allows photographers to expose their photos correctly. I’m going to give you an intro to Exposure Bracketing so that you can add it to your arsenal of knowledge.

Bracketing is a technique used by professional photographers that allows them to manipulate contrast by taking multiple pictures of the same subject and combine them together to obtain a correct exposure in all parts of the photo.

How Does Bracketing Work?

Using the AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing) function of your camera, you will pre-program it to take three photos of the same subject, one with the settings you choose, one underexposed and one overexposed image. This way you’re capturing the highest lighting information possible.

Exposure Bracketing

You might find that one of the three images you’ve obtained is the right one. It has the proper exposure in all areas and you’ve done.

Otherwise, you can take it a step further and decide to use a Photoshop technique called exposure blending to merge the images together and have an extended Dynamic Range.

I’m not touching the Photoshop editing technique in this article, but let me know in the comments below if you are interested in knowing more about it!

When to Use Bracketing?

It’s fundamental to be in the right spot at the right time and be able to capture the better light. But often despite all the effort, you’ll end up with images that can have perfect colors and contrast in the foreground and an overexposed sky or vice versa, perfect exposure for the sky and an underexposed foreground.

Exposure bracketing can be used in any type of situation, when you shoot still or moving subjects, landscapes or portrait photos.

What is Dynamic Range?

To understand what dynamic range is you need to understand how a camera sees is different from how we see and perceive contrast.

Cameras are more limited than the human eye in recording a wide range of light values all at once.

The Dynamic Range is the difference between the darkest and lightest values of an image. The greater the difference in light intensity between darks and whites the greater the dynamic range in that scene.

As I’ve said the human eye can record a much higher dynamic range than a camera. Without going deep into the numbers, I’ll show you an example.

Sometimes what happens is that this is what your eyes can see:

3 Exposures blending

But your camera will only be able to capture this:

Difference Between Bracketing and HDR

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and it’s a function you would use to obtain instant results. The camera will blend multiple images together for you without the need of using Photoshop.

Using Bracketing you will do the job of blending images together (if needed).

I’ve personally never used HDR since I find that more often than not the final image will look unnatural.

Conclusion

I hope you have a good grasp of what exposure bracketing is and why it’s important to achieve good results by giving you great control over the dynamic range of your photographs.

Stay tuned for a complete guide to exposure bracketing and exposure blending in Photoshop and I’d really appreciate if you can share this article on your social media to help me expand this website!

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