Most photographers have certainly experienced that disappointing moment when they are importing images into Lightroom for post-production, only to find out that many of their photos are either under or overexposed. This usually happens when you rely too heavily on your camera’s preview screen to review your shots. Camera preview screens regularly deceive us by showing us shots that are brighter or darker than they truly are.
To avoid disappointment in post-production, many photographers have come to realize how helpful bracketing can be. Read on to keep learning about this strategic method,
What is Bracketing?
Bracketing is simply the technique of capturing several images of one subject or scene with altered camera settings. This technique is really useful when you have a hard time obtaining a single perfect shot because you cannot get the right exposure parameter. Many modern cameras now have an autobracketing feature, which automatically takes multiple shots without the need to adjust your camera settings between shots manually.
There are different kinds of bracketing, namely: exposure bracketing, automatic exposure bracketing, flash bracketing, depth-of-field bracketing, focus bracketing, white balance bracketing, automatic white-balance bracketing, ISO bracketing, and automatic ISO bracketing. Among all these types, exposure bracketing (including automatic exposure bracketing) is the most important that will help you get the right tonal range in your images.
So, what exactly is exposure bracketing? It's a technique that photographers use to make sure that a scene is captured with the best exposure. This is made possible with a series of multiple shots, between three to seven, with different exposures. Usually, there is one photo that is underexposed, one that is overexposed, one with the "best" or recommended exposure, and other photos between the range of under- and overexposure.
After the photoshoot, you can choose the image that best fits your expected exposure. In cases where you did not find one single image with the right tonal range, you can assemble photos with different exposures into one HDR image. Software like Photoshop or Lightroom can easily automate this process.
Exposure bracketing allows you to capture more than one level of exposure when the light conditions are challenging. This process is made easier with the AEB (Automatic Exposure Bracketing) feature, which now exists in most new cameras. With this, you can capture a series of photos without manually adjusting the camera settings after each shot to change the exposure range.
How to do it?
If you are using a DSLR, check out this short instruction on how you to use the AEB mode.
- Go to the main menu of your camera.
- Choose the item with the label "Exposure Bracketing" or "AEB."
- Adjust the exposure level variation in-between shots. You can start with a gap of -2EV or +2EV between images. Also, do not be afraid to experiment with the exposure range until you get it right.
- Capture three to seven shots, then review the images. If necessary, adjust the camera settings.
If you plan on using this mode often, check to see if your camera has a specific button for exposure bracketing. This way, you do not have to go to the device's menu every time to activate the setting. This makes exposure bracketing faster and more convenient to use.
When to use it?
The exposure bracketing process comes in handy whenever you have to shoot a scene with lighting conditions that are hard to read. It is is also helpful if you are rushed and do not have the time to check the exposure settings manually before shooting. Of course, you need exposure bracketing if you want to take a series of photos, which will be later merged to compose one HDR image.
Basically, exposure bracketing sees to it that your hard work in the field does not go to waste just because you later find out your shots are incorrectly exposed. That is why you should take advantage of your camera’s bracketing capabilities if your camera has this feature.
The disadvantage of using the AEB or exposure bracketing feature is that it requires more memory – either larger memory cards or more memory cards – since you will be taking multiple shots.
Devices that Can Help You
Aside from the built-in features on your DSLR, other devices can make exposure bracketing easier to execute. Take the following from MIOPS:
- MIOPS Smart+ : This high-end camera trigger can be useful if you want to perfect the exposure bracketing technique. It will allow you to capture flawless photos with varied exposures from 1/30 to 30 secs. Whether your camera has a built-in bracketing feature or not, this device makes exposure bracketing very easy to master. That is why this is also popular among HDR photographers.
MIOPS Smart+ is an advanced high-speed camera trigger with triggering modes, such as Lightning, Sound, Laser, Timelapse, and HDR mode. This versatile camera device can control your camera with or without using your smartphone.
- MIOPS RemotePlus : This camera remote will make photography easier and more convenient by allowing you to control your camera on a smartphone. MIOPS RemotePlus is really handy for timelapse, remote shooting, lightning photography, and HDR photography.
Since bracketing requires a well-timed shutter release, this advanced device is a big help. It will allow you to release the camera shutter directly from your phone—meaning you can do it remotely. It features six release modes: Self Timer, Timed Release, Timed Release & Self Timer, Press & Lock, Press & Hold, and Cable Release.
Furthermore, MIOPS RemotePlus is an excellent tool if you are into landscape or HDR photography since it supports AEB which makes merging bracketed photos into one HDR easier.
Use Exposure Bracketing now
By now, you probably have a better understanding of what exposure bracketing is, when to use it, and how to do it. I hope you also appreciate how this technique can help you accomplish the results you are aiming for by mastering how to better capture the full tonal range of your photos.
For more ideas about bracketing, stay tuned. I will be providing more guides and tips on how you can use this technique—plus exposure blending. You can help other photographers become more knowledgeable about their passion by sharing the MIOPS website on your social media.
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