Andy Brown • Exposure Bracketing

Andy Brown explains how you can use the exposure bracketing technique to achieve better dynamic range in order to create more pleasing landscape photographs

During the most fortuitous shoots, a soft and even light illuminates your scene with an evenly gradated array of contrasts ranging from subtle highlights to softly spreading warm shadows. Such conditions are great to work with, testing neither your camera equipment nor indeed your eye. Spot metering such a scene at various points will render reasonably similar values throughout, meaning you can be sure that a healthy image is easily within the grasp of a single exposure.

Unfortunately, things are not always that straightforward. On a bright day our own vision struggles to read the brightest tones, and inky shadows hide impenetrable details revealed only through scrutiny. Your camera is vastly inferior at making sense of things; hence, a ‘one-shot’ approach will invariably lead to disappointment. Think of the simplest composition with a bright summer sky and a dark foreground – expose correctly for the sky and the foreground will be too dark; replicate for the foreground and the sky will be burnt out. These, and a whole host of more complex scenarios, are where exposure bracketing comes to the rescue.

Do you have an article idea? Click here
Article Ideas

Digital cameras often have an auto-bracketing setting, allowing you to open the shutter and capture a solo image which your camera will automatically create another two from – one slightly underexposed (often around -1/3 stop), and one slightly overexposed (often around +1/3 stop). Some cameras will allow a higher number of bracketed files from a single image and offer you the creativity to select your own exposure values. You could, of course, bracket manually by simply shooting a range of varying exposures, but the time taken to re-shoot could create problems with moving elements and/or changing light conditions.

Once you have your bracketed files, check (on your computer – not your camera!) that the underexposed files have correctly allowed for the brighter tones and vice versa concerning the overexposed ones with the darker areas of the scene. Using your processing software, the three (or more) files can be imported as separate layers, allowing you to mask off and select the areas you want from each with a view to combining the layers to one correctly exposed image across the entire scene.

The trick is to keep things natural, but allow insight, remembering that a photograph under challenging conditions should look just that. Don’t shy away from contrasts – just nurse them to a level where sense can be made.

High Definition Feature • Access it in issue 73

You can read this feature in high definition inside the magazine. See our special offer below and subscribe today. Enjoy content by world class landscape photographers.

LPM Special Offer

Please share this post:

About Author

Andy Brown

An ardent devotee to most genres of landscape photography, Andy’s primary fervour and passion is for mono and split-toned, ultra long exposure imagery.


  1. Avatar

    [* Shield plugin marked this comment as “spam”. Reason: Failed GASP Bot Filter Test (checkbox) *]
    Your last paragraph is a HUGE enlightening tip for me. Thanks

Reply To Thomas DeLopez Cancel Reply


Send us your advert and we will promote it in both magazines FREE of charge

We understand how badly COVID-19 will affect all of us. But we also know that this terrible, unprecedented time will eventually pass – and we want to do what we can to support your photo tours business until that time comes.