Bracketing explained: what you need to know about maximising detail

Bracketing explained: what you need to know about maximising detail in your photos

Try Exposure Blending

 

Try Exposure Blending

When you can’t capture detail in the brightest and darkest parts of a scene in a single frame, you can take several bracketed exposures and blend them together later in Photoshop or similar software, such as Photomatix.

You’ll need to mount the camera on a tripod while you take the shots to ensure that the frames will line up when you blend them together – and shoot in Aperture Priority mode so that the depth of field is consistent throughout the whole sequence.

Combining the well-exposed shadows and highlights from separate shots with the camera’s ‘midtone’ exposure, you can create an image that has a wider dynamic range. This kind of treatment isn’t 
to everyone’s taste, however, because at its extremes it can create an unnatural, hyper-real effect.

 

+2 stops of compensation

+2 stops of compensation
All we’re concerned about in this bright exposure is capturing the detail in the rocks.

 

 +2/3 stop of compensation

+2/3 stop of compensation
Here, we’re looking to preserve detail in the sea and the darker areas of sky.

 

No compensation

No compensation
This exposure is exactly as the camera sees it. It’s a useful image for revealing hidden detail in the clouds.

 

 -1 1/3 stops of compensation

-1 1/3 stops of compensation
A darker exposure ensures that the brightest areas of sky retain some detail.

PAGE 1: Common questions about bracketing
PAGE 2: How to start bracketing exposures
PAGE 3: Understanding dynamic range
PAGE 4: Try exposure blending

READ MORE

Depth of Field: what you need to know for successful images
Manual Focus: what you need to know to get sharp images