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The Essential Guide To Bracketing

by | Learn

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In the essential guide to bracketing, we’ll go through the different kinds of bracketing, explain each and break down how you can go about bracketing for yourself.

Bracketing in photography is a shooting technique used to capture a large enough spectrum of light through a series of shots with the camera settings set differently for each shot. The purpose of using these techniques is to capture as much dynamic range, light or focus in the image.

4 types of bracketing

Exposure Bracketing

This technique involves taking several photos of the same scene with different exposure settings. The aim is to capture a range of exposures, from underexposed to overexposed, to ensure that the shadows, midtones and highlights are all accounted for. Exposure bracketing is particularly useful when dealing with high-contrast scenes, such as sunsets or landscapes with bright skies and dark foregrounds, or in interior spaces where the camera would be unable to correctly balance light coming through the window and the shadows cast in the room.

Focus Bracketing

This technique involves taking multiple shots of the same scene, each with a slightly different focus point. The aim is to capture a range of focus points, from the nearest to the farthest, to ensure that the foreground and background are both focused correctly. Focus bracketing is useful when photographing macro or landscape scenes, where depth of field is an issue.

Flash Bracketing

This technique involves taking several photos of the same scene, each with the external flash placed in a different part of the scene. The aim is to capture multiple images with different parts of the scene flash-lit, to achieve a photo with well-balanced light or deliberately highlighted elements in the scene. Flash bracketing is useful when photographing in low-light situations, such as indoor or night photography.

White Balance Bracketing

Although less commonly used today, this technique involves taking several photos of the same scene with different white balance settings. The aim can be either to capture a scene with colourful spots or to simply correctly capture a scene where different light temperatures may be involved, such as fluorescent and natural light.

HDR Processing

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, and is an image processing technique that involves taking the multiple, bracketed photos of a scene with different exposure, focus, flash or white balance settings and then merging them into a single high dynamic range (HDR) image. The aim is to capture the full range of tones in a scene, from the brightest highlights to the darkest shadows.

How to bracket

Exposure Bracketing

To recap, exposure bracketing is a technique in photography that involves taking multiple shots of the same scene with different exposure settings. The aim is to capture a range of exposures, from underexposed to overexposed, to ensure that at least one of the images has the correct exposure.

To use exposure bracketing, you will need to set up the camera to take a series of shots at different exposure values. This can be done either manually, by adjusting the camera settings, or using the camera’s in-built auto-bracketing feature.

With the photos captured, you can then merge the images into a single HDR image using post-processing software. Using this technique will create a final image with a balanced exposure that captures the full range of tones in the scene. Exposure bracketing is a valuable technique for photographers looking to achieve the perfect exposure in challenging lighting conditions.

Focus Bracketing

Focus bracketing is a technique in photography that involves taking multiple shots of the same scene with different focus points. The aim is to capture a range of focus points, from the nearest to the farthest, to ensure that at least one image has the correct focus.

To use focus bracketing, you will need to set the camera to take a series of shots at different focus points. This can be done manually, by adjusting the focus point for each shot, or using the camera’s auto-bracketing feature.

When using manual focus bracketing, set the camera to aperture priority mode and select a small aperture, such as f/11 or f/16, to increase the depth of field. Then take a series of shots, adjusting the focus point slightly between each shot to capture a range of focus points.

When using auto-focus bracketing, the camera will take a series of shots with slightly different focus points, typically in increments of one-third or one-half of a stop. This feature is particularly useful for macro photography, where a shallow depth of field can make it challenging to get the entire subject in focus.

Once the photos are taken, select the best image or merge the images into a single image using post-processing software. This technique allows you to create a final image with a wide depth of field that is sharp from the nearest to the farthest focus point.

Flash Bracketing

When different parts of a scene need to be lit with flash, a technique called “multi-flash bracketing” can be used. This technique involves taking multiple shots with different flash positions and intensities to ensure that all parts of the scene are well-lit.

For multi-flash bracketing, first, set up multiple flash units and position them in different parts of the scene. The flash units can be triggered either manually or with a remote trigger. You can then take a series of shots, adjusting the position and intensity of the flash units between each shot.

During post-processing, select the best image or merge the images into a single image using software that supports layer masking. This technique allows you to blend different parts of the images together to create a final image that is well-lit throughout.

It’s important to note that multi-flash bracketing requires careful planning and experimentation to achieve the desired results. you must consider the positioning and intensity of each flash unit, as well as the overall composition of the scene. With practice, multi-flash bracketing can be a powerful tool for photographers looking to create well-lit images in challenging lighting conditions.

White Balance Bracketing

White balance bracketing is a technique in photography that involves taking multiple shots of the same scene with different white balance settings. The aim is to capture a range of white balance settings, from cooler to warmer, to ensure that at least one image has the correct white balance.

To use white balance bracketing, set the camera to take a series of shots with different white balance settings. This can be done either manually, by adjusting the white balance setting for each shot, or using the camera’s auto-bracketing feature.

For the best results, set the camera to custom white balance mode and adjust the white balance setting for each shot. Alternatively, you can use a white balance card or grey card to manually set the white balance for each shot.

Once the photos are taken, select the best image or merge the images into a single image using post-processing software. This technique creates a final image with a balanced colour temperature that accurately represents the scene.

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