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Composition and Exposure
Bracketing a series of exposures for HDR photography

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Jack Howard first picked up an SLR camera as a teenager over twenty years ago and has been exploring the photographic process ever since. Starting in the wet darkroom and now exploring cutting-edge digital imaging techniques, he's thoroughly embraced the evolution of the photographic process.

 

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Bracketing a series of exposures for HDR photography

Photograph how the eye sees

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HDRI (High Dynamic Range Imaging) has become a much-discussed way to get the produce images with a range of tones and colors similar to what the human eye sees.


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A bracketed series of exposures is the start of every High Dynamic Range Image. DSLRs work best, although there are a handful of compact and EVF cameras that will also produce high-quality results. The goal is to capture the entire luminance range of the image, from overexposed shadows to underexposed highlights, in a series of overlapping bracketed shots. Don’t be afraid to chimp!

Still scenes with no moving elements are easiest for HDR photography. And a tripod ensures pixel-for-pixel alignment. (There are alignment utilities in almost every popular HDR program, but it’s best to not rely on the programs to fix alignment, if you can help it.)



Auto Exposure Bracketing is usually a good way to capture the full dynamic range. Most cameras can capture 3 shots at +/-2 EV intervals, which is a good exposure range for many typical scenes. Pro cameras may be able to bracket many more shots over a greater range of exposures for easier capture of extreme scenes—candles and direct sun through a window, for example. Consider combining Exposure Compensation and Auto Exposure Bracketing to expand your exposure range. Setting EV Compensation to -2 and bracketing a couple of shots and repeating at +2 dramatically increases the captured dynamic range.

If there’s no way to capture the full dynamic range of the scene with Auto Exposure Bracketing, bracket manually while exposing for the darkest to lightest details—keeping in mind that you want to change only the shutter speed. Changing the ISO or Aperture can have negative impacts on your final image.

 

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