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Understand Bracketing in HDR Photography

Shooting brackets is where it’s at in high dynamic range (HDR) photography. This is where you feel the most like an HDR photographer because it’s different from shooting single exposures. Make sure your camera is set up according to the type of brackets you can (or want to) shoot.

You need to know these things about exposure compensation and manual bracketing:

  • Three — the number of the brackets, that is: This illustration shows three brackets set up in relation to the EV index: one at -2.0 EV, another at 0.0 EV, and the third at +2.0 EV.

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    If you wish to shoot more or fewer brackets, change your approach accordingly. For example, five brackets at +/-1.0 EV require that you set exposure compensation to -2.0, -1.0, 0.0, +1.0, and +2.0 for the respective brackets.

  • The order of the brackets shall be under, even, over: You can, of course, shoot them in any order you like.

  • Exposure jumping: Sometimes the exposure jumps around between brackets. After you start shooting, ignore any changes and be consistent with the bracket distance. If necessary (you think the exposure is really hopping), start over when the conditions are more stable.

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