How to bracket your ex­po­sures

Practical Photography (UK) - - Coastal Masterclass -

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.

Get­ting blurry

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…

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