What is bracketing?

Bracketing is a process of creating several photos of the same image or scene using different camera settings to achieve the perfect shot. Exposure bracketing ensures your images won’t be under-, or overexposed. Most DSLR cameras today come with Automatic Exposure Bracketing (AEB) to make this process easier. AEB allows you to take three pictures with one press of the shutter.

Shots featuring deep shadows and bright highlights are hard to capture correctly since the highlights will get blown out if you expose for the shadows, and vice versa. If you use AEB, you’ll be able to blend and merge these images into one with perfect detail that fits your vision. Sometimes, this can be the only way to capture proper exposure.

When you shouldn’t use bracketing

Bracketing photography can be useful for many scenes and occasions, but it should be used with caution when it comes to shooting fast-moving subjects, such as wildlife or sports. Even though the camera takes multiple shots right after the other, merging images of moving subjects can become blurry or create a double exposure.

From a practical perspective, bracketing also takes more time to shoot as you have to fiddle with the settings, and it takes up more space on memory cards. If you’re tight on either time or storage, this technique might not be for you.

How to use bracketing

With today’s technology, bracketing is super easy! Find your camera's AEB mode and determine your ideal settings. Most often the aperture will be adjusted to change the exposure image to image.

Set up a tripod to make sure that your shots are completely identical. Small differences can completely ruin the process. Then start shooting! You can either use one photo from your bracketed images or if you didn’t get the perfect one, merge your photos in Lightroom or Photoshop.

Need more help? Check Adobe’s guide on how to merge AEB shots in Lightroom.