How To Master Exposure Bracketing And Get The Perfect Lighting Across Your Photo

Exposure bracketing is one of the best and most simply techniques to getting the best light on your scene. It’s one of the very helpful techniques that us photographers use to make sure we get the very best lighting we can.

So how does this work? Well for starters your camera does not always have the best metering (especially on Auto). Since the camera is not always right, we have to experiment.

When you snap the photo on auto, your camera will tell you that it thinks the shutter speed and aperture that its chosen is right.
We then apply some exposure bracketing.

Exposure bracketing or “bracketing” can be explained as the photographer taking numerous photos of the same thing using a variety of different camera settings. Bracketing is great when you are struggling to get a shot with exposure you like and that suits the image generally and helps ensure correct exposure of a photo when lighting in a scene is difficult.

So how do you do this Exposure Bracketing method? It is simply done by taking at least three extra photos of the same scene. One will be under-exposed, the second will be almost right and the third will be over-exposed of the same scene. By taking three slightly different exposed shots of the same scene this will enable you to choose the “best” exposed scene out of the three.

This can be done in two ways.

1) The first way would be to take the photo, and then manually take photos of the same scene after adjusting the EV settings up and down by the same EV amount.

2) The other way is to use the setting on your camera “AEB”, which simply means Auto Exposure Bracketing. This means the camera will automatically take three photos of the same scene with one under-exposed and another over–exposed. The camera will generally default to + 1/3 EV exposure setting for the extra photos.

Let’s take for example this picture of this young woman.

EV -1.3

EV 0.0

EV +1.3

Of course by using the manual method will take longer to take the scene but this also allows you to take more than one of the extra under or over-exposed shots. So you could take more shots “either” side of the exposed scene till you get the “perfect exposed” shot you desire.

If you only have an EV adjustment on your camera, rather than individual shutter speed and F stop adjustment then you need to compensate for light. The tricky thing with manually adjusting your EV is that you may know that you need more or less light, but you may not be sure how much to make the adjustment by. In this case you can still apply the exposure bracketing method. Take a few shots of the same scene, each with a slightly different EV.

Some digital cameras let you set the bracketing step and number of shots. The camera will take pictures of the number of shots that you specify. It will compensate the exposure by the specified EV steps.

Many digital cameras have an auto exposure bracketing function. You might see this on your camera as AEB. This means that if you select this before you take the shot, the camera automatically sets to taking three photos. It will take one that is “perfectly exposed” a second which is over exposed and a third which is underexposed. The level of exposure is at about -1/3EV and +1/3EV. You might also find you can change the exposure that it automatically does this on. Try going to your cameras setup mode and see if you can change it.

You can use exposure bracketing whenever you like. I recommend to use it often if you haven’t done it before to get the full handle of this great technique.

About the Author

Amy is an multi-award winning photographer from Australia. She teaches enthusiast photographers how to take beautiful, professional photos in easy, plain English. She has a monthly photography emagazine and ebooks to help you create stunning images every time.

Comments (2)

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  1. I love RAW. It allows me to save different exposures of an image and blend them together in Photoshop to get some really punchy results, especially in Black and White.

  2. Very interesting, I have just written some tips on using Photoshop with Exposure Bracketing, all by the Brighton Photographer, I thought you would find them useful.

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