ALL ABOUT “AUTO EXPOSURE BRACKETING”

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UNDERSTANDING AUTO EXPOSURE BRACKETING

NOW THIS IS A SUBJECT THAT I HAVE LOVED WAY BACK WHEN I TAUGHT PHOTO CLASSES WHEN FILM WAS THE POPULAR THING.  AND IT WAS SOMEWHAT IMPORTANT FOR THOSE WHO SHOT SLIDE FILM, RATHER THAN PRINT OR NEGATIVE FILM.   THE REASON IS THAT SLIDE FILM HAD NO FORGIVENESS IN HOW YOU SHOT IT.  WITH PRINT FILM, A LOT OF YOUR GOOFS COULD BE CORRECTED IN PRINTING.  BUT NOT SLIDE FILM.  YOU HAD TO DO YOUR EXPOSURE CORRECT THE FIRST TIME, OR IT WOULDN’T COME OUT GOOD AT ALL.  

IT’S THE SAME THING WITH DIGITAL CAMERAS, TO AN EXTENT.  TOO MANY PHOTOGRAPHERS, WILL JUST GO BACK TO THEIR COMPUTERS, AND FOR OVER OR UNDEREXPOSED PHOTOS, THEY WILL JUST FIX IT ON THE COMPUTER.  I RECENTLY HAD A WEDDING PHOTO COME TO ME THAT WAS WAY OVEREXPOSED.  THEN I TRIED TO DARKEN THE PHOTO IN THE COMPUTER, AND THERE IS JUST NOT THE IMAGE THERE TO FIX IT RIGHT.  I WORKED ON IT FOR WEEKS, AND I GOT IT TO THE POINT THAT AT LEAST THEY HAD GOOD SKIN TONES, BUT, THE REST OF THE PHOTO WAS STILL NOT WHAT I CALL PLEASING, BUT, THEY WERE HAPPY.  SO, THAT BRINGS UP THE IDEA OF EXPOSURE BRACKETING.  THIS IS SOMETHING YOU DO WHEN YOU TAKE THE PICTURE.  AND IT IS EASY TO DO WITH MOST CAMERAS.  

SO WHAT IS BRACKETING?  Bracketing is the technical term for a sequence of frames of the same image, shot in rapid succession and all at different exposures. Normally, it is a sequence of multiple frames with each exposure differing from the other frames in steps of between 1/3 of a stop up to a full stop or even two stops. Each sequence starts with a central exposure the camera deems to be the ideal exposure for the overall scene. Then another image is shot under-exposed and one image shot over-exposed. Hence the ‘correct’ exposure is bracketed (or sandwiched) between two exposures which are under- or over- exposed by the same amount.
 

MOST CAMERAS THAT ARE SOMEWHAT NEW TODAY, HAVE THIS MODE BUILT-IN SOMEWHERE.  ABOVE YOU SEE THE CANON VERSION OF HOW TO GET TO THAT MODE.  HERE YOU CAN SET FOR BRACKETING, AND HOW FAR YOU WANT TO SET THE OVER AND UNDER EXPOSURE.  
 
WHAT IS THE REASON FOR DOING ALL THIS ?
There are times when it’s difficult to decide on what the ideal exposure should be to get the best image of a scene. It may be that you don’t have the time to think about your exposure, or it may be that there are elements of extreme brightness and shadow within the picture that you want to capture, and you’re not sure whether exposing for the highlights or the shadows will give you the better final image. Bracketing for high dynamic range (HDR) could be the solution.
 

 

WHY IT’S EASY WITH A DIGITAL CAMERA:

 
Once you have properly set your camera on auto exposure, set the camera up for auto exposure bracketing, and you set it up for taking the 3 photos, then you look at the results, you take the best of the  3 photos, and discard the 2 bad ones.  Back in the old days of film you did the same thing, but, you threw away valuable film.  You don’t do that with digital.  You just saved more room on your card.  Digital is so nice.  
 
COMBINE THE 3 IMAGES FOR THE PERFECT PICTURE:
 
So, the other advantage of bracketing your photos is that you are picking up the best of the highlights of your photo, and then also with one of your exposures you are picking up the best of your shadows.  Now, if you have a good editing tool on your computer, you would combine the 3 photos together and get the most remarkable photo ever, because you have combined the best of the highlights, and the best of the shadows and you now have a perfect photo:

a blend of 3 bracketed exposures, photo by Salva Barbera

 
SO TRY EXPOSURE BRACKETING NEXT TIME YOU HAVE REALLY DIFFICULT LIGHTING TO FIGURE OUT.  AND SEE WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE.
 
 

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