How to bracket your exposures
Taking manual control of your exposures is only part of the process for getting shots that retain the widest range of tones available in any scene. One way to ensure that you have the best possible starting image to work on in post-editing is to take a series of pictures of the same scene at slightly different exposures to give yourself a choice of shot to edit.
This technique is known as bracketing and is quite simple.
Begin by taking a general meter reading of your scene, using the ‘widest’ metering mode on your camera (Nikon call this Matrix Metering while Canon call it Evaluative Metering). This will give you a general starting point, and to bracket you just move up and down from this point, taking one shot at each increment or decrement. For example, if you’re shooting at f/22 and ISO 100 for good depth-of-field and best quality, all you need to change between exposures is the shutter speed. If your starting point was 1/60sec, you would move up from there in half-stop increments (1/90, 1/125, 1/180, 1/250) until you are 2 stops above your ‘base’ and then go down in half-stop decrements (1/45, 1/30, 1/22, 1/15) until you are 2 stops under your base point. Modern DSLRs usually have a built-in bracketing mode that will allow you to select how many images are taken and what the interval of exposure value (EV) is set at.
present a final image that contains as wide a range of tones as possible.
If there’s a definitive coastal landscape shot, it must surely be one in which the moving sea has been rendered as a misty and ethereal layer by the use of a long exposure. This is where your manual control of the camera’s settings will allow you to get creative as you can choose the right combination of aperture, shutter speed and ISO to transform the moving elements of your coastal landscape into an artistic blur.
There’s no ‘perfect’ setting for this effect, with exposures running from a few seconds to several minutes, depending on how fast the water is moving and how extreme an effect you wish to produce. Getting really long exposures is generally achieved through employing neutral density filters and understanding how to use them is made much easier if you have gained experience of making manual exposures beforehand.
Above …and select how many shots and the EV increment you desire.
Above Hold down the bracket (BKT) button on your camera…