The perfect shot can be elusive. Sometimes that is because there is not one shot, but several. Bracketing is a mode on most digital single lens reflex cameras & # 39; s and mirrorless cameras & # 39; s that allows photographers to take more than one consecutive shot, with adjustments to each subsequent shot automatically. The result is a group of images that differ slightly, either to increase the chance of getting the perfect exposure, or to capture multiple images for later merging, or for a high dynamic range or focus stacking.
Here's how to use bracketing to increase your chances of getting the perfect shot.
Types of bracketing
Unlike standard burst mode, which takes a series of fast images under identical settings, images are those with bracketing are purposefully made differently from another. Bracketing can work in combination with burst mode, although it is not always necessary to use it in this way.
Exposure bracketing is one of the most common bracketing modes. With exposure bracketing, the camera takes a set of photos, each with a different exposure. Exposure bracketing is used in high dynamic range (HDR) photography, when multiple photos taken with different exposures are combined in a photo editing program to create one image with more contrast and a greater range of captured light. With some cameras & # 39; s, you can choose which exposure element ̵
However, exposure bracketing is not the only available bracketing type. Other types of bracketing modes are:
- Focus bracketing : In this mode, the focus is adjusted slightly between shots. This option is useful for stacking the focus, a technique where multiple images are merged with a slightly different focal length to increase the depth of field or the amount of image to be focused on. This option can also be used if you want the focus to be perfect, especially when working with a small depth of field from a large aperture.
- Flash bracketing : This mode takes a photo with the flash on different power settings, useful if you are not sure which flash settings are most suitable for the image.
- White balance bracketing : this option takes several photos with a different white balance setting for each. Since you can easily change the white balance of a RAW image, this mode is most useful when shooting under difficult light scenarios in JPEG format.
- Field Depth or Aperture Bracketing : With some cameras, you can also adjust bracketing for different aperture values, shutter speed, and ISO so that the exposure is identical in each shot. These images can be combined later, as with focus stacking, or can easily be used for new photographers who do not know which aperture value they should use.
- Brand Specific Bracketing Options : Some brands have a bracketing option that others do not have. For example, Nikon cameras have an active D-Lighting option to take photos with and without the setting, and Fujifilm cameras offer film simulation bracketing for shooting the same photo with different looks.
Not every camera brand offers every type of bracketing mode, but most advanced cameras include at least the exposure bracketing option.
How do you use exposure bracketing?
You will find bracketing as a menu option or a special button on some cameras. Search for the word bracketing or the abbreviation BKT or AEB (automatic exposure bracketing).
Once exposure bracketing is enabled, you must set the parameters or tell the camera how to adjust the exposure.
- Number of shots: Choose how many photos the camera takes each time. The more pictures you take, the more variety you get. Three shots are often sufficient to support a scene with minimal contrast between the light and dark areas.
- Exposure value or EV. This indicates how much the camera adjusts the exposure between each shot. EV is measured in stops. One stop halves or doubles the light. So if you choose +1 EV, each shot doubles the amount of light. Stop fractions are more often used in exposure bracketing, such as a 1/3 EV adjustment between each shot. Just make sure that the EV steps and the number of exposures add up to cover the full range that you need.
Other bracketing modes have slightly different settings, although each of them asks how many shots to take. For example, focus bracketing will ask how much the focus should be adjusted between each shot, while white balance bracketing has options to choose how much the color temperature varies between shots. Some modes also have smooth exposure – turn this option on to keep exposure even between shots.
After setting the bracketing parameters, you can take pictures. For many types of bracketing modes, a tripod is useful to hold the camera in the same position, especially if you plan to stack the images for HDR or focus stacking later.
Take photos with the composition set as you normally would – make sure you press the shutter button for at least as many photos as you have set in the bracket. Most cameras have a counter or icon that indicates how many pictures you need to take to complete the bracket. Some cameras automatically take the set number of shots with one touch.
Get Creative with Bracketing
Although bracketing is sometimes used simply to increase the chance of getting a difficult shot straight into the camera, the rest of the work is often done in software.
HDR merges multiple photos taken with different exposures. The result is an image with more details in the light and dark parts of the photo. Most image editing programs, including Photoshop and Lightroom, have tools for merging an HDR photo. This is how.
Focus bracketing combines several photos taken with a different focal length, creating a photo with a sharper image. Focus bracketing is often used in macro photography, where the short distance between the subject creates a very shallow depth of field, making it difficult to get the entire subject in focus. Focus stacking is a task for the toughest photo editors, such as Photoshop. This is how.
Bracketing is a simple way to increase the chance of taking the perfect shot or to take multiple photos that you can combine later. Although bracketing will not replace the knowledge and understanding of basic principles such as exposure settings and focusing the camera, it is a useful tool in many scenarios.
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