DSLR 101 – Auto Exposure Bracketing


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Do you own a DSLR but use it mostly as a very expensive point-and-shoot? Time to take off the training wheels! Join us for DSLR 101! Don't worry we'll take it slow, and the little green rectangle of the auto setting will always be there for you to run back to if you find yourself in over your head!

Welcome to class, first up; auto exposure bracketing.

What?
Auto exposure bracketing allows you to automatically take a series (usually three but sometimes up to seven) of photos, each at different exposures. Basically the camera takes one image at what it perceives to be the correct exposure, one underexposed, and one overexposed.

Why?
What your camera views as the correct exposure may not necessarily be the exposure that suits a particular image best. You may find that you like your photos slightly overexposed, or that for a particular shot the underexposed version appeals to you more.

Auto bracketing allows you to take the different exposure shots in one quick succession, meaning it’s almost as fast as just taking the correct exposure shot. Especially for beginner photographers this is a great way to get shots in different exposures, and learn which ones you like best in which situations.

Overexposure is not always a bad thing, it can make for some interesting effects.

How?
Most DSLRs will let you choose the brackets you want (usually anywhere from a third-stop (not much variation in exposure) to two stops (lots of variation)), and the number of images you want to take.  How you set auto exposure bracketing varies from camera to camera so you’ll need to check your camera’s manual (look for AEB), it’s often found as a menu setting but some cameras have a specific button for bracketing.

Extra tip
Auto exposure bracketing works differently, depending on if you have the camera in Aperture Priory Mode or Shutter Priority Mode. Basically the camera will change the setting that is not in priority to control the exposure (e.g. if you’re in shutter mode the aperture will be changed).  Therefore if you want to maintain a certain shutter speed or aperture make sure you put the camera in the priority mode for the setting you want to keep set.

That's it in a nutshell, get out and play! If you like you can add the results to the Photodoto Flickr group here.

  • http://www.grtaylor.com Greg Taylor

    I find that using a tripod is essential to successfully auto bracketing exposures.

    http://grtaylor2.com/2010/01/15/when-to-use-a-tripod/

  • http://www.overdestiny.com Daniel Bento

    I use mostly the AEB for HDR shooting. It was nice if we have an option in the camera to choose how many different exposure brackets we want to take (for example, for that extra effect HDR with 5 exposures).

    Honestly, it’s a interesting idea to take AEB with 1 stop difference in that situations we don’t have to much time to define the exact exposure.

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