Learn About Photography Bracketing: Are you having difficulty creating excellent images in harsh lighting conditions? Do you want to know how you can take multiple pictures and turn them into one stunning photograph? Do you know the one thing that most amateur photographers miss or simply neglect when starting out?
Bracketing is the digital photography technique of taking several pictures of the same subject at different exposure settings. The settings can be automatically changed by your camera (auto-bracketing) or you can choose the settings you desire and bracket the picture yourself.
Bracketing a photo is simply taking one picture at the correct (or best) exposure. Then, taking another picture that is underexposed (too dark) and another picture that is overexposed (too light) to give you a full dynamic range of colors and lighting depth.
Software like Photomatix will take those three bracketed pictures and merge them all together to give you one picture. Your final picture will show more detail in the shadows (or dark areas) and it will show more detail in the bright areas as well because all three images are working together to best represent the actual lighting conditions at the time the photo was taken.
The final result of bracketing photos is called HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography.
Photography bracketing is most useful in situations where your subject or subjects are in competing lighting conditions. More simply put, you have part of your subject in sunlight and another part of your subject in the shadows.
One photo will not suffice in covering the entire dynamic range of light found within the composition of your picture under these circumstances. Adding light or darkening areas in your picture in editing does not produce the same results as bracketing.
A bracketed picture has, in it's DNA, a more robust combination of colors and light. Editing a normal photo is like plastic surgery. Sure you can make someone look better and even good with plastic surgery, but it's not the same as being "beautiful" by nature.
Above: This is an example of an HDR photograph. It was created by bracketing three photos and combining them together in the HDR photography making software Photomatix.