Simon Thomas explains how using the bracketing button on your camera can help you nail stunning shots of your motorcycle adventures.
Most cameras today have more buttons than you know what to do with, and while a few of us explore them and the features they activate, there are a few buttons that most consider as unfathomable and therefore untouchable. For one reason or another, the AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing) bracket button is one of them.
This is strange as almost every digital camera on the planet offers bracketing. By the end of this article, you will wonder what the mystery was all about and why you weren’t using this feature all along.
Racket, bracket, what?
So, what is bracketing? Well, in simple terms, bracketing is a feature that allows your camera to take the same photo more than once using different settings, which produce differing exposures and results.
“Why do you want that?” I hear you ask. Well, say you’re photographing a mountain landscape, like the main image in this article. The rider, Lisa, and the foreground needed one setting to be properly exposed, while the mountains needed another, and the absurdly bright sky and clouds another setting altogether.
With Lisa quickly accelerating away from me, I only had a few seconds to work out the precise settings I needed, and I knew that the chances of me getting them all right the first time were slim to none. But I figured I could get somewhere close.
With AEB turned on, I now had three chances of getting the image perfectly exposed. Most cameras allow you to choose how many bracketed shots to take (just google search ‘AEB’ and your camera model).
Photo with -2 Negative Exposure Compensation
I usually set my camera to shoot three images but you can go as high as nine. In the Auto Exposure Bracket settings, you can also select the amount of exposure difference (f-stops) you want between each of the images. The increments you can select, irrespective of camera model, are traditionally talked about in terms of 1/3 of a stop.
OK, hang-on, what the hell is a stop? Right, camera talk aside, try this. When someone talks about making the shot ‘one full stop darker’, it’s the equivalent of taking the shot with a pair of sunglasses over the lens. Two stops would be your camera wearing two pairs of sunglasses. Three stops, well you get the idea.
Conversely, in-creasing stops is just photo talk for increasing the image’s brightness by the equivalent amount.
Photo with +2 positive Exposure Compensation
TOP TIP: I set my AEB settings to allow my camera to shoot three images with two stops difference. All this means is that my camera will shoot the image with the exposure settings I use, plus one-shot that is two stops brighter and another shot which is two stops darker. One of these is going to work.
So, you have now got three shots, but what do you do with them? You might just find that one them is spot on, even if it wasn’t the image with your original settings. Thank you AEB and Adventure Bike Rider for this article.
Alternatively, you could use photo editing software like Photoshop or Luminar 4, or specific HDR software like Skylum’s Aurora HDR 2019 to tweak it to perfection.