Step by step
Here’s how to ensure you always get the best possible exposure in-camera
There’s not much point in shooting bracketed images if you can get the right exposure with ease, so this is your excuse to go out and look for the sort of high-contrast conditions that would normally make you reach for an ND grad… or head home in despair if you don’t own one.
01 Learn to love contrast! Bracketing comes into its own in tricky, high-contrast lighting, when your Nikon’s sensor isn’t be able to capture both the darkest shadows and brightest highlights in the same shot. One of the main advantages of bracketing is that you get a range of exposures to choose from.
02 Same same, but different Although a tripod isn’t essential for bracketing, it’s always a good idea to use one when you’re shooting landscapes in any case, and if you plan to merge your images later on, a tripod will help keep the composition consistent, and make shots easier to align in Photoshop.
03 Set the standard The bracketing options are in the Flash and bracketing custom settings menu. Use the standard AE mode, so that the setting that changes is the shutter speed. If you’re shooting in shutter-priority mode, though, the aperture will change rather than the shutter speed.
04 Dial it in Higher-end Nikons, such as the D610 pictured, feature a dedicated bracketing button. On smaller D-SLRs you will have to use the rear LCD. Use the rear dial to set the number of shots (eg three frames), and the front wheel to set the increment between shots (eg one stop).
05 Make a start Set the ‘correct’ exposure as your starting point (ie with the exposure level indicator lined up with the ‘0’). For our shot, we set aperture-priority mode and Spot metering, and then used the mid-tone of the grass in the middle of the frame to set our average, ‘best-guess’ exposure.
06 Fire away Finally, select the self timer mode on your shooting dial. This will allow you to shoot hands-free and prevent any camera shake. Once you’ve pressed the shutter release, the camera will wait for the time you’ve specified, then fire off three images at three different exposures.