HDR Photography: Set Up Auto Exposure Bracketing - dummies

HDR Photography: Set Up Auto Exposure Bracketing

Some cameras require pre-configuring underlying AEB settings before using auto bracketing. A Nikon D200 is used here to illustrate the steps to set up auto exposure bracketing. That’s right — this step takes place before the first step of auto exposure bracketing.

Depending on your camera, pre-configure AEB before you leave home. You don’t want to be looking at a sunset that is quickly fading while you are hunting through your camera’s menu system double-checking a bunch of complicated AEB settings.

For Nikons, this can take a few minutes but once it’s done you can leave it alone. Regardless of the brand, check your documentation and read through the AEB section until you fully understand what’s going on. Look for settings such as these in your menus — using the Nikon D200 as an example, default settings indicated by (d):

  • Auto Bracketing Set: This setting (see the figure, which shows the D200 bracketing menu) controls what the camera changes to create the brackets. It can be exposure, flash level (this type of bracketing changes flash intensity to alter exposure), white balance, or a combination. Options are AE & Flash (d), AE Only, Flash Only, and WB Bracketing.

  • Auto Bracketing in M Exposure Mode: This setting defines how bracketing is accomplished when AE & Flash or AE Only modes are selected and the camera is in manual mode. Options are Flash/Speed (d), Flash/Speed/Aperture, Flash/Aperture, and Flash Only.

  • Auto Bracketing Order: This one is fairly simple. The option sets the order the brackets are taken, in relation to what it metered (MTR). Options are MTR>Under>Over (d) and Under>MTR>Over.

  • Auto Bracketing Selection Method: Defines how to turn bracketing on or off. Options are Manual Value Select (d) and Preset Value Select.


Not all cameras require this much setup. With many Canon and Sony cameras, for example, you just turn it on! The point here is to show you that it can be complicated and scare you into reading your manual.