Photography Lesson: Bracketting

In photography, bracketting is the technique whereby you apply different exposure settings (aperture and shutter speed) in capturing the same subject/setting.  The essense of the technique is to take 3 shots of the same subject/frame: 1 evenly exposed, 1 overexposed, and 1 underexposed.  You can select the “exposure factor” of your shot: from 0.5 (half-stop) to 3 stops.  If you’re unsure of the exposure settings and you don’t have the luxury of time, this method allows you to “hedge your bets” so to speak.  Hopefully, you’ll get one shot “right”.

In film-based photography, you’ll be tied to one ASA rating (unless you have several rolls with different ASA ratings), and try out several aperture and shutter speed combinations—manually.  Of course, you’ll have to wait for the negatives to be developed to find out if you got at least one photo to your liking.

In digital SLRs, this is a lot easier.  Most DSLRs have an automatic exposure bracketting feature built in.  You can select an exposure range and your camera will take 3 shots with one press of the shutter release button.  With my Pentax K-x, all you have to do is press the drive mode button on the 4-way controller at the back of the camera (see illustration below, left).

Pentax K-x Back (4-way controller, drive mode)

Exposure Bracketting (Rightmost option)

Next, you turn the e-dial to select the exposure steps you want.  EV 0.5 will take half-stop over- and underexposed shots. EV 1 will take 1 stop over- and underexposed shots, and so on (see illustration above, rigth). 

Here are some examples I took:


However, there would be situations when you have you are afforded the time to compose your shot and get the exposure correct as well.  If you’re serious in learning photography, try the manual shooting mode and set the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO/ASA rating until the photo is to your liking.  You may also experiment on the different shooting modes available on the DSLRs such as Aperture Priority, Sensitivity Priority, and Shutter Priority.  There are also programmed scene shooting modes such as museum, night, snow, sunset, kids, action, fireworks, etc.  I will discuss these other shooting modes in the succeeding lessons.  Remember that when you’re unsure of the exposure, bracketting is a wise course of action to take.

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