Sunday, July 02, 2006

07/02/06: "Bracketing" and exposure compensation tips

"Bracketing" and exposure compensation tips

Bracketing is the process of taking multiple pictures (typically 3) at different exposures (anywhere from 1/3 stop to 2 full stops over and under) to compensate for lighting conditions that may fool your camera's auto-exposure setting. You can activate your DSLR camera's bracket function which will automatically adjust exposure on three shots fired consecutively. You can choose to bracket in small increments like 1/3 of a stop, or large increments like 2 stops. For example, if you turn on your AE bracketing function and dial the compensation to 1 full stop, your camera will then expose one image at the AE light reading, one at 1 stop under that reading, and one image at 1 stop over the camera's AE light reading. For most cameras you do have to hold the shutter down to capture 3 images so this may not be the right thing to do when shooting fast moving subjects such as Indy cars or two-year-old children who don't want to take a bath :).

Aside from bracketing to compensate for light that may fool your camera's meter, you can learn to adjust your settings depending on the subject and the color / mood you are attempting to capture and convey. Here are some exposure compensation guidelines:

  • White / snow in bright sunlight +2.5 stops
  • White / snow in overcast light + 2 stops
  • Yellow or gold / flowers or jewelry +1 or 1.5 stops
  • Orange / pink flowers + 1 stop
  • Light blue / early morning sky + 1 stop
  • Medium tones of green / brown / blue / red +/- 0 to 1/3 or 1/2 stop
  • Dark green / evergreen trees or violet flowers -1 stop
  • Dark brown / black animal fur or black tuxedo -2 or -2.5
As always, don't be afraid to review the results of your images on your DSLR's LCD screen and make adjustments as you are shooting.

Keep it real,
Dan

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