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Auto Exposure Bracketing – Why, When and How

Auto Exposure Bracketing – the Practical Guide

“Auto Exposure Bracketing” is a part of my Images Fundamentals collection on PhotoTraces. You’ll find the remainder of the tutorials and articles right here: Images Fundamentals.

Auto Exposure Bracketing – the Practical GuideAuto Exposure Bracketing – the Practical Guide

What’s bracketing in images? Why do I want it? How do I bracket pictures?

These are the most typical questions I reply each day when educating images, which is why I made a decision to place collectively a Bracketing Information.


The Complete Gude to Bracketing in Images

You’ll study:

  • What’s Bracketing in Images
  • Varieties of Bracketing
  • Causes for Utilizing Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB)
  • How to Bracket the Exposure

My First Steps With Bracketing

Lately, whereas engaged on a tutorial for starting photographers, I attempted to compile an inventory of an important subjects I needed to introduce. However, it didn’t work out very properly as I struggled to provide you with a significant record.

Then, I made a decision to strategy the duty from a unique angle. I requested myself:

What’s the most respected recommendation I acquired after shopping for my first DSLR?

I didn’t should assume for very lengthy.

When I began studying images, I didn’t have to start out from scratch. As a graphic designer, I had an understanding of composition and might body some respectable photographs in regular mild circumstances. Nevertheless, when it turned even barely difficult, I had no concept methods to cope with it.

In the future, I got here residence from a visit to New York and was checking the pictures I took of Manhattan at sundown once I realized that I didn’t like all of them however couldn’t pinpoint the issue.

I went to my pal who was an skilled photographer and requested him for recommendation.

When he seemed by means of my pictures of New York, he stated, “Dude, every single photo is underexposed by almost a stop.”

“What should I do?” I requested in desperation.

My good friend knew I used to be nonetheless in an early part of my images schooling once I didn’t absolutely perceive the idea behind publicity and publicity metering. As an alternative of giving me an extended lecture on the publicity triangular, he gave me easy and sensible recommendation.

“Bracket your shots when the lighting conditions become complex. Or, even better, bracket all of your shots.”

I didn’t absolutely perceive the idea of bracketing however I knew that if I took three pictures of the identical topic—one at regular publicity, the second darker and the third brighter—I might have a greater probability of getting a correctly uncovered shot.

Auto Exposure Bracketing  - Example of exposure bracketing in photographyAuto Exposure Bracketing  - Example of exposure bracketing in photography

NY. Manhattan. My first atempts at bracketing

So, I began bracketing all my photographs out of insecurity (and incompetence) earlier than I ever understood the complete advantage of bracketing.

Bracketing in Images: Definition

What’s bracketing? If we take a look at the definition of bracketing, it states:

In images, bracketing is the overall strategy of taking a number of photographs of the identical topic utilizing totally different digital camera settings.

As you’ll be able to see, the definition is fairly broad and doesn’t say “using different exposures.” It solely says “different camera settings.”

The rationale for that’s as a result of you possibly can bracket numerous digital camera settings not solely the publicity. Under are several types of bracketing:

  • Exposure Bracketing
  • Flash Bracketing
  • Depth-of-Subject Bracketing
  • Focus Bracketing
  • White Stability Bracketing

Flash Bracketing

A much less widespread sort of bracketing, Flash Bracketing is usually used when utilizing fill flash together with ambient mild. For instance, when capturing portraits in broad daylight, fill flash is used to brighten the faces and soften the shadows. With Flash Bracketing, the quantity of sunshine generated by the flash varies from shot to shot permitting you to pick the model with probably the most pleasing outcome.

Focus Bracketing

Focus Bracketing is extensively widespread in macro images the place the depth of subject is restricted. By taking a collection of photographs with the totally different elements of the composition in focus, it permits you to use the Focus Stacking method the place you possibly can digitally mix (Photoshop) a number of photographs to maintain solely the in-focus areas within the last picture.

I additionally use the Focus Bracketing method in my landscapes once I want to realize an prolonged depth of subject. For instance, once I need to have each a foreground component (instance: a rock) that could be very near the digital camera in addition to distant background parts (instance: mountains) in focus. To do that, I take two photographs focusing first on the rock and the second focusing to infinity; then, I digitally mix the 2 photographs to maintain solely the in-focus areas.

Depth-of-Subject Bracketing

One other pretty unusual sort of bracketing is Depth-of-Subject Bracketing. By taking photographs with the totally different depth-of-area vary of the identical topic, it permits photographers to mix a number of photographs throughout publish-processing for higher management of what objects or elements of the thing are in focus. This system is usually utilized in macro images.

White Stability Bracketing

White Stability performance permits photographers to supply correct colours of their pictures by compensating for the several types of mild they shoot beneath. It removes the colour forged produced by totally different mild sources (instance: daylight, tungsten mild, incandescent mild) and ensures the white colours of the scene keep white within the pictures.

White Stability Bracketing makes it attainable to take a number of photographs with totally different White Stability settings of the identical object and later choose the photograph with probably the most correct colours.

With the introduction of RAW format in images, White Stability Bracketing turned just about out of date as a result of we will now specify Colour Stability later whereas modifying pictures in packages like Lightroom and Photoshop.

I don’t usually use White Stability Bracketing and by no means hassle utilizing the customized White Stability setting. Since I all the time shoot RAW and can simply manipulate the White Stability in Lightroom later, I all the time hold it in AUTO mode.

Exposure Bracketing

Exposure Bracketing is by far the preferred and most helpful sort of bracketing in images. When a photographer refers to bracketing basically, I can assure that she or he is speaking about Exposure Bracketing.

Auto Exposure Bracketing  - Example of exposure bracketing in photographyAuto Exposure Bracketing  - Example of exposure bracketing in photography

Kinds of Exposure Bracketing

There are two conventional methods of bracketing the publicity:

  • Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB)
  • Guide Bracketing

Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB)

The Auto Exposure Bracketing (or AEB) performance of the digital camera permits us to take a number of photographs based mostly on a predefined setting with one single shutter click on. For instance, in the event you use the AEB settings to specify that you simply need to take three photographs with 1EV (stops) intervals, each time you press the shutter, the digital camera will take a collection of three photographs—one at regular publicity, a second 1EV (cease) darker and a 3rd 1EV (cease) brighter.

Totally different cameras have totally different Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) configurations. Whereas entry-degree DSLR or Mirrorless cameras help you take the utmost of three photographs at one cease intervals, greater-finish fashions have an much more in depth set of options that permit us to take as much as eleven photographs beginning at 1/three cease intervals and as much as 5 stops.

Earlier than shopping for an entry-degree digital camera, verify to see if it has the AEB performance. For instance, my previous $299 Lumix LX5 had the AEB performance however some costlier fashions don’t. It’s a really helpful function to have.

In my images, I exploit two AEB configurations probably the most typically: three bracketed photographs at 1EV or three bracketed photographs at 2EV intervals. In excessive instances when capturing for HDR, I’d use a configuration of three photographs at 3EV intervals.

Usually, photographers use tripods when bracketing photographs however, if lighting circumstances permit us to make use of a quicker shutter velocity, it’s potential to make use of AEB hand-held.

There isn’t any commonplace interface on cameras to regulate AEB configuration as totally different digital camera producers implement it in another way. For me, I really like how logical and environment friendly the Canon AEB management is in comparison with the Sony Mirrorless, which is lower than good.

Guide Bracketing

When utilizing Guide Bracketing, as an alternative of counting on the digital camera to take a number of photographs, a photographer can the guide settings changes after every shot.

The Exposure Compensation performance of the digital camera is used most frequently when utilizing Guide Bracketing to offset the publicity worth from one shot to a different.

I all the time use a tripod whereas utilizing the Guide Bracketing method. First, I take a shot at regular publicity and then examine the histogram to determine what number of brackets and at what increments I have to take. Then, I exploit Exposure Compensation to offset the publicity worth by -1 cease and press the shutter manually. I examine the histogram once more and, if mandatory, I offset the Exposure Compensation by +1 and take one other shot.

The benefit of utilizing Guide Bracketing is that you simply take fewer photographs. In case you can nail your complete vary on mild (dynamic vary) in two photographs, then you definitely don’t have to take a 3rd shot. It not solely saves area in your reminiscence card, it additionally saves area in your Lightroom catalog and backup system.

Causes for Auto Exposure Bracketing in Images

Getting a Correctly Uncovered Shot

Exposure Bracketing was extensively utilized in analog days when photographers didn’t have prompt suggestions within the type of the digital camera show and the histogram. Earlier than they might consider if the publicity was set correctly, the movie needed to first be developed. Since AEB didn’t exist, photographers would take a number of photographs of the identical scene with totally different publicity settings as insurance coverage for getting the right shot.

Exposure bracketing in photography. Santa Barbara in the Fog

Exposure bracketing in photography. Santa Barbara in the Fog

HDR Images

Exposure Bracketing is the inspiration for the HDR images method. When the dynamic vary of the scene exceeds the dynamic vary of the digital camera sensor, the one option to cowl all the vary is to take a number of photographs with totally different publicity values and merge them collectively utilizing HDR software program to create an HDR picture.

When I began utilizing Exposure Bracketing, I didn’t find out about HDR images in any respect. However, as a result of I bracketed all of my photographs during the last decade, I’ve the choice to course of my previous pictures utilizing HDR know-how.

Exposure bracketing in photography. California State Route 1

Exposure bracketing in photography. California State Route 1

Exposure Mixing

Exposure Mixing is a complicated method that turned common in recent times. As an alternative of counting on HDR packages to merge a number of photographs collectively, photographers can mix them manually in Photoshop utilizing Luminosity Masks. Although this system is extra complicated in comparison with HDR, it provides us rather more management over the mixing course of.

Exposure bracketing in photography. Montreal

Exposure bracketing in photography. Montreal

Studying Exposure

Utilizing bracketing as a studying device was very helpful to me once I was studying publicity in images. After every photograph shoot, I loaded the photographs to Photoshop or Lightroom and instantly began analyzing them, making an attempt to determine in what case the digital camera metering system was fooled by the lighting circumstances. Then, the subsequent time I knew how one can cope with such circumstances.

Exposure bracketing in photography. Atlantic Canada

Exposure bracketing in photography. Atlantic Canada

Unconventional Use of Auto Exposure Bracketing

This can be a method that I exploit pretty typically however I’m unsure if anybody else makes use of or is aware of about it. I mix a number of photographs to not prolong the dynamic vary however to get a greater high quality last picture in order that I could be extra aggressive with my modifying and get cleaner pictures. I described this system intimately within the article The Not-So-Apparent Purpose for Utilizing HDR.

Exposure bracketing in photography. Santa Barbara in the Fog. CaliforniaExposure bracketing in photography. Santa Barbara in the Fog. California

How to Bracket the Exposure

Under is the step-by-step course of I recommend when studying bracketing methods:

Step 1 – Examine in case your digital camera mannequin has the AEB performance. Google AEB + mannequin of your digital camera. In my case, I might seek for “AEB Sony a6000.” In case your digital camera has the AEB performance, find it and transfer to the subsequent step. In case your digital camera doesn’t have AEB, the one choice you might have is to bracket your photographs manually, offsetting the Exposure Compensation after every shot.

Step 2 – Utilizing the knowledge from Step 1, find the AEB module in your digital camera and use the next settings: three photographs at 1EV intervals.

Step three – Set your digital camera to Aperture Precedence Mode. In Aperture Precedence Mode, the photographer units the aperture worth manually and the digital camera mechanically selects the suitable Shutter Velocity. Because the aperture controls the depth of subject in pictures, it’s important to maintain the aperture worth fixed from shot to shot.

Step four – Set your digital camera to a tripod. Although it’s potential to bracket photographs hand-held, I extremely advocate utilizing a tripod.

Step 5 – Use your digital camera’s self-timer to set it to a 2-sec delay. The digital camera mechanically takes a number of photographs when utilizing the AEB performance, however the shutter button needs to be pressed in the course of the bracketing. This typically causes unintentional shakes that end in blurred photographs. With a 2-sec delay, you press the shutter button, launch it and transfer away. The digital camera pauses for 2 seconds and manually takes the bracketed photographs.

Step 6 – That is the final step the place you press the shutter button, launch it and wait till the digital camera takes three bracketed photographs.

Exposure bracketing in photography. QuebecExposure bracketing in photography. Quebec

Bonus for Canon Shooters

Should you’re a Canon shooter, you’re in luck! You’ve got the choice to dramatically increase your digital camera auto publicity bracketing performance at no cost!

Magic Lantern is an open supply firmware add-on (it doesn’t substitute the unique firmware) that provides an infinite variety of options along with the unique Canon settings. With Magic Lantern, you possibly can bracket between two and 9 photographs in all potential increments.

I used Magic Lantern whereas capturing with my Canon for years and beloved it! It might be nice if one thing comparable existed for Sony cameras since, paradoxically sufficient, Magic Lantern is what I missed most after making the change from Canon to Sony.