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Photo Tip Of The Day

Today’s Photo Tip (#190)

Most of you with a DSLR have an automated mode that will help you out in tricky lighting conditions. Imagine you’re facing this situation you have the world’s best sunset in front of you and you are unsure what setting you should use. Do you expose for the brightest part of the sky or the darkest? Do you use a faster shutter speed or slow? How about over or under exposure? You can do all these things with one mode. Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB for short).

AEB mode allows the user to set up the camera to take 3 different exposures of the same subject in quick succession without having to do any complicated calculations. The user will be able to choose the “gap” between the exposures and in some case the starting point as well as the sequence of the exposures. There are some pitfalls to be aware of.

My first suggestion is to set the camera to continuous shooting mode, if there is high and low set high. This will allow the camera to go through the cycle with one press on the shutter. If it’s not set then you have to press the shutter multiple times to go through the sequence. You’ll need to read your instructions to find out how to set the AEB mode. Each camera is different and there are too many variations to list here.

Once you know how to set it it’s a matter of deciding the gap between each exposure. Most cameras will allow up to 3 stops difference between each shot in a 3 shot series. This is like telling the camera you want to use up to three shutter speeds higher and lower than the correct exposure. I suggest to start with set a one stop gap. The camera will indicate a photo will be taken at -1, 0, & +1. Take the series of shots and you will end up with an underexposed image (-1) a normally exposed image (0) and an overexposed image (+1). The camera will have just changed the shutter speed up and down to achieve this result. Experiment with the gap between images and you’ll soon work out what works for you the best.

The idea behind this mode is to allow the photographer the flexibility to have a series of images at different exposure levels, from a difficult lighting situation, so as to pick the one that looks the best. Once you have the hang of the setting up it’s usually quicker than doing it manually. And you don’t need to think too much. After all not everyone can work out a 2 1/3 stop under exposure in their head.

One other tip for this tip, make sure you cancel the mode once you’ve finished using it. I have been caught out with having it left on and expected my camera to take a series of photos at 8 frames per second of a train approaching. The camera stopped after just three shots and I couldn’t reset it in time and missed the image I was after. If your camera has the auto cancel option turn it on.

This mode is a simple solution to a sometimes complicated problem. Take the time to practice this technique. It will save you many times over when you’re not quite sure. It won’t be long where you’ll recognise the situations and immediately set the camera up to take the 3 shots.

Happy Shooting

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