As promised yesterday, today I will be talking about bracketing your exposures based on shutter priority.  After a couple comments yesterday that it seemed unusual to bracket on aperture rather than shutter speed, I felt that in this companion post I should acknowledge that, it is.  The reason for the post?  One of the downsides I mentioned is that your depth of field will change considerably from a wide open setting to that of, say, f22.  That can also be an upside though because as you merge bracketed exposures into an HDR image, you can also add depth of field if you make the adjustments in aperture priority over shutter priority.

Additionally, I led off with aperture priority because it’s not the norm, and as most readers will know – I try to approach things from a new perspective when possible.  Finally, as I followed up with in the comments section, the simple fact of the matter was that I could not remember whether 250 or 200 was the absolute middle point for shutter speeds (this is the risk of adding gray above the brain, rather than to the brain! *grin*).  So, I led off with the post where I knew the numbers rote! 🙂

So, in the interests of full disclosure, shutter speed is a more common way to go when making bracketed exposures.  After verifying my numbers in camera, here’s how it breaks down using shutter speed to bracket multiple times:

fstopshutter

I also realized that I did not give the step-by-step yesterday, so here’s the process I would follow:

  1. First, meter the scene, set your camera to ISO 100 and exposure priority and adjust to 1/250th of a second.  Check where your f-stop is.
  2. Second, switch to manual, and adjust all settings to match that metering.
  3. Third, adjust the shutter speed down to 1/30th of a second, and fire off 3 exposures and the camera will bracket over and under one stop.
  4. Fourth, adjust the shutter speed up to 1/250th of a second, and fire off a second set of three exposures (the camera will bracket over and under one stop).
  5. Finally, adjust the shutter speed up to 1/2000th of a second and fire off your last set of three exposures.

Voila!  You now have 9 exposures to merge together for a bracketed workup to take advantage of a high dynamic range, or for exposure blending, as desired.  Of course the same rules from yesterday also apply:

  • Be shooting on a tripod
  • Be using a remote release (or timer)
  • Be using mirror lockup
  • All other settings remain constant
  • and that lighting conditions aren’t changing appreciably
  • You are set to manual focus
  • Your lens is set to its hyperfocal distance

Any final thoughts to share on how to bracket exposures?  Anything I missed or additional tips to share?  Feel free to sound off in the comments section!  In the meantime, Happy Shooting and we’ll see you back here again tomorrow!

14 thoughts on “Setting bracketing exposures – shutter priority

  1. I’m still sort of confused about how that trick goes. Is there any sort of visual media that shows this technique like a video or some pictures with the instructions underneath? I’m still not getting it and I’m a visual guy, so it would really help me to see it.

  2. I think they key to all of this is to forget AV or TV mode. Just stay in Manual mode. Go into M mode and set your initial conditions (shutter speed of 1/250 and whatever you want your aperture, ISO, white balance, and all that other good stuff to be). Also set your AEB to whatever bracketing you want. If you’re going to shoot the 9 images as this tutorial states then set AEB to +/- 1EV (note the article leaves this step out). While in AEB mode, the camera will automatically adjust the shutter speed, not the aperture, to get the bracketed images. Then go to the next shutter speed setting as stated and shoot another 3 bracketed images. And so on.

    Another thing you might want to consider is using multi-shot mode instead of single-shot mode. In multi-shot mode with AEB on, the camera will take all three bracketed images with one button press. This helps to reduce the overall time between all 9 exposures so that a changing scene will not affect your image merge later on. If you memorize how many clicks it takes of the wheel to go from 30 to 250 to 2000 you can reduce that time further… click the shutter, spin the wheel, click the shutter, spin the wheel, click the shutter. This way your darkest and lightest exposure are only about 3 to 6 seconds apart instead of 30 to 60 seconds apart. It will make a big difference later on in the merge if you have things in the frame that are moving.

    If you have things in the frame that are moving a lot (flags, rocking boats, a model trying to sit really still) then you will want to stick to just 3 shots in multi-shot mode. Set the camera to do a +/- 2EV spread and multi-shot mode and you’ll be good to go. You can also increase your ISO slightly so that you can get a faster shutter speed in all three bracketed images so that artifacts created from movement is decreased further. But you will have to sacrifice some noise with each step in ISO so you have to weight the trade off for yourself. But if you’re using something like NoiseNinja or other noise plugin for Photoshop then you can get away with shooting at ISO400 or even higher without degrading your final composition.

    Hope this all helps!

  3. Hi Robin:

    If you are in Tv:

    Set ISO to 100 and shutter to 250 and see where the camera puts the aperture value for metering purposes. Then switch to manual mode and match the ISO, T, and A settings. Then adjust your T down per the chart to the setting for 1/60th – that way when the bracketing occurs in the 2nd and third exposure, it will be over and under by one stop from the initial value. Then move your shutter up to 1/250th and repeat the bracket sequence. Then move your shutter up to 1/2000 and repeat bracket sequence to get a full 9-shot bracketed range.

    If you are in Av:

    Set ISO to 100 and aperture to f8 and see where the camera puts the shutter value for metering purposes. Then switch to manual mode and match the ISO, T, and A settings. Then adjust your A down per the chart to the setting for f4.0 – that way when the bracketing occurs in the 2nd and third exposure, it will be over and under by one stop from the initial value. Then move your aperture up to f8 and repeat the bracket sequence. Then move your aperture up to f22 and repeat bracket sequence to get a full 9-shot bracketed range.

  4. So in step #1, what are you trying to say? Set ISO to 100 and what? Your choice of Tv or Av?

    I have the original Digital Rebel, so I don’t have the mirror lockup function. Oh well. 🙂

  5. What is exposure priority? How can I tell if my camera offers mirror lockup? Is it a menu item?

    1. Good morning Robin,

      Shutter priority is usually indicated by a T or Tv on your dial, and Aperture Priority with an A or an Av. As far as I know, there is no setting for exposure priority.

      Mirror lockup is usually a setting within your custom functions. If you are using an SLR grade camera, you more than likely have it. There are some Point-and-Shoot models that have it, but the odds are less likely.The best bet would be to check your Owner’s manual. What model camera are you using?

      Thanks for stopping by the blog though, I appreciate your visiting and taking the time to ask a few questions. Have a great weekend!

  6. great set of articles Jason. I am fairly new to the dslr stuff. What is a “hyperfocal distance of a lens”?

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