Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Auto Bracketing

Well, it's been a little while since my last post. We're into the busy season at work - consistent 12-14 hour days are leaving less time for photography (or anything else for that matter). And also I'm suffering from a little bit of Photography Overload coming back from my trip to Chicago (almost 4,000 raw shots to weed through). So I thought I'd do a quick blog about Auto Bracketing - one of the reasons I have so many pics to review.

Bracketing is the practice of shooting 2-3 frames on each shot you're trying to take, with each shot using different settings. The goal is to give yourself more options to choose from on the back end, to help ensure you get the perfect shot while you're out in the field and to help cut down on post processing.

There are a few ways to do bracketing. One way is to bracket the white balance - if you take 3 snaps of the same shot, the first one might be a little more red/warmer, the second might be a little more neutral, and the third might be a little more blue/cooler. Another way would be to bracket your flash - for example the first shot could be full power, the second shot could be 1/2 power, and the third shot could be 1/4 power. What I use most often is exposure bracketing - the first shot is a normal exposure based on the shutter speed and aperture I have selected, the second shot goes a little darker by adjusting shutter speed and/or aperture, and the third shot goes a little lighter.

Which brings us to Auto Bracketing. Many DSLR cameras have this as a standard setting, where you can select the number of frames to be shot in each set (1, 2, or 3), as well as the type of bracketing (white balance, exposure, etc), and the step value between each shot (how different is each shot going to be). I typically set up Auto Bracketing for exposure, 3 frames, with a step value of 0.3 (the lowest step value my D80 will do). That means it will take 3 frames, each about 0.3 stops apart in terms of exposure.

Once you set up Auto Bracketing, here's where the shots really start adding up - using Auto Bracketing in Burst Mode. If you set your camera up to do Auto Bracketing, and then turn on Burst Mode, you can snap 3 frames in about a second. That's what I've been doing a lot more of lately to make sure I get the shot I want - I get 'er all lined up, focus, check the light to help set my shutter speed, aperture and white balance, and then I snap 3 shots with Auto Exposure Bracketing in Burst Mode. Half an hour later, I've got a full memory card.... While it leads to more shot selects to go through on the back end, I will definitely say it has saved me tons of time in post processing because I can select the exposure I like best, rather than having only 1 shot to choose from and having to tweak in photoshop to get it just right. Now on to sorting through the Chicago pics...

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Sandra Evertson said...

Great post, love the gorilla!
Sandra Evertson

Loving Her Beautiful said...

Hi, Paul,
Thanks for much for the visit and the comment on my "Five Things" post a while back -- so sorry for the delay!
Fascinating about bracketing. My wife is a budding photographer, and naturally, always trying to get just the right. She'll love this.



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