What is bracketing and why would I use it?

Bracketing is when you take several identical shots that have different exposures. It produces some very dynamic photos. See the difference?

A picture truly is worth a thousand words. The top image was bracketed and processed. The bottom, while correctly exposed, was not. The cart in the second photo is flat; while in the bracketed photo is rich and full of life; as is the rest of the photograph.

Look closely at the rooftop, the ground and even the walls of the building. They more accurately portray the true colors.

Also, if you just point and shoot without several different exposures, you can end up with many of your pictures unexpectedly under or over exposed. That is, too dark or too bright.

I did not shoot several exposures of this picture! Woe is me.

Adding a high dynamic range software into the mix produces the result you see in the top picture.

You can take different exposures of the same composition. It helps when you are deciding which exposure you like best.

Many cameras have a bracketing setting. What that means is once the camera is set, each time you press the shutter release button the camera will automatically shoot the next exposure in the set until all the exposures have been captured.

It works in a circular fashion. In other words, the camera will shoot the first shot at the first exposure setting. Then the second, third and so on until it has shot all the exposures in the sequence.

On cameras that have a setting, you can adjust how much difference there is between exposures. The available adjustment generally ranges from 1/3 stop to 1 full or 2 full stops. I use 1 full stop change from one picture to the next.


Here’s what a series of 5 bracketed shots looks like when set side by side. When braketing for HDRI programs you will need to use a tripod so each shot is composed the same. If you just want to be sure to get an exposure that is correct, then hand held bracketing will work fine.

Following the final exposure, the camera will start the sequence all over again. So watch yourself; if you click one too many times you will infringe on the next sequence of shots.

Deleting the extra shot will not remedy the situation. You will have to complete that next set in order to come back around to the first exposure.

"Bracketing" is 2 pages.

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