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What is Exposure Bracketing?



  Blinds taken with five different exposures

Bracketing is a technique in which you take three (or more) shots instead of one single photo, all of which are exposed slightly differently. Normally, one is correctly exposed, one slightly underexposed and one slightly overexposed. We are in a number of situations, so let's see how it works.

Basic Exposure Series

Proper exposure can be a complex subject. There are many things you need to balance: how your camera measures the scene, the dynamic range of your camera and, of course, what settings you use. You can also try to deliberately over-excise your photos to get more data in the RAW file without going too far and creating your highlights.

  Under, Normal, and Overexposure Beach Scene Shown

With All of This The exposure series of moving parts is a solid method to ensure you get good exposure on-site. There are some things that you can not correct by mail. If you take a still picture that is one or two underexposed shots, and another that shows one or two overexposed shots, you still have bracketed shots, even if you misjudge your exposure. For this reason, landscape photographers sometimes refer to exposure series as "safety photographs".

RELATED: Exposure values ​​give you a better understanding of how your camera works

When you take bracketing, there are some other advantages as well: You can create an HDR image at any time Mix. When something moves through the scene, you can replace it with original image data instead of relying on Photoshop tools.

Now the bracketing works well only in certain situations. It really is a landscape or architectural photography technique. When you take pictures of people, pets, or other objects that move a lot, you can not take bracketing. Instead, just take different photos with different exposure levels.

Shooting in bracketing

There are two ways to take bracketing: manually and automatically.

RELATED: What Shutter Speed ​​Should I use with my camera?

To manually take bracketing, set up your camera as usual for one shot. Using a tripod will give you the best results. However, this is not essential. Once you take your first shot, adjust the exposure compensation, shutter speed, or ISO by about one stop and take a second shot. Adjust the shutter speed or the ISO value by two steps in the other direction and take a third one. Now you should have three identical photos that have underexposed, correctly exposed and overexposed a stop.

 Sunset shows under-, normal-, and overexposures

To automatically capture bracketing, you must do so by entering the settings of your camera. The procedure is slightly different for each camera. Review the steps in the manual. For my Canon 5D Mark III, it says exposure comp./AEB setting. Search for bracketing, bracketing, bracketing, or the like.

 Canon 5D Mark III Display with Exposure Compensation Settings

You can also adjust the exposure compensation in brackets. In the picture above, I've set my camera to take an underexposed, an overexposed, and a metered shot. Depending on your camera, there may be additional options to set the order of shots and whether there are three, five, or even seven images.

 Blinds with five different exposures

] If you set the bracketing as follows when you press the shutter-release button, your camera will take a series of photos with the shutter speed each time is varied.

The advantage of manual bracketing is that you can either adjust the shutter speed or ISO: Adjusting the iris changes the image of an image too much. If you use the automatic bracketing of your camera, only the shutter speed will be adjusted. However, it is faster and works automatically once you set it up. Choose the option that best suits your situation.


Shooting bracketing is a good safety technique, especially for landscape photography. If I've tried to set up my camera, I usually put a few pictures in parentheses if I need them.


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