Bracketing for beginners


Ever heard of Art bracketing? No? It’s bracketing for beginners and the advanced. What’s bracketing? That is a useful technique that is applied far too little. And when it is applied, then it’s by an experienced photographer.

Bracketing can also be fun for beginners who have just bought their first camera with interchangeable lenses. During the testing of the Olympus OM-D E-M10, an affordable high-end camera for starters and amateur photographers, I experminented with Art bracketing. Art bracketing is ideal for beginning photographers with an Olympus system camera, a playful way to learn to develop your own creative style without having to get into image editing.


HDR: probably the most-applied form of bracketing

Under difficult lighting conditions, such as with a subject with very high contrast or in mixed light, experienced photographers make a series of multiple shots in quick succession, in which one property (usually the exposure, but sometimes also the white balance) is varied. With High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography, the camera is placed on a tripod and a series of the same scene is made, where the shutter speed is, for example, halved each time. With the help of software (Photoshop, Photomatix, Picturenaut), the series of shots is later merged into 1 image, in which nothing is overexposed or underexposed. With 1 shot, that’s not always possible.

In the shot shown here, the candle was the only light source. In order not to over-expose the candle, a camera usually chooses a very short shutter time, which makes everything in the background turn black. With a longer shutter time, the candle would be over-exposed. In this case, 3 differently exposed shots (bracketing) are merged into 1 picture. Today, that can also be done in the camera, without additional software.


Art bracketing with the Olympus OM-D E-M10

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Art bracketing recipe: Turn Bracketing on in Shooting menu 2. Choose Art bracketing. Check all the image styles. Photograph totally different subjects. Look at the results and keep what you like. Turn off styles that don’t work, so that you can work longer on a single SD card.

With an Olympus camera, you can also make HDR pictures. You can let the camera do the merging (HDR modes), or you can make an exposure range (AE bracketing), and thereafter merge the pictures with HDR software. It might be more fun/simpler to experiment first with different creative image styles.

More and more cameras offer editing capabilities with which you can make very creative, edited images without a computer. The Olympus OM-D E-M10 also has a large number of Art presets, with which an image is edited in a certain style (grainy black and white, sepia, soft focus, pinhole, etc.) On each picture that you make, the styles are applied that you select in Art bracketing, and then multiple versions of the shot are stored on the SD card. The effects are quite different and are a matter of taste. The results depend on the subject. By saving your shots in all Art image styles to begin with, you quickly learn which effects (in which situations) you like best.


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The camera does the photo editing, no fussing with Photoshop

PicturesStyledemo1The camera does all image editing and saves—in this case—the image as a ready-to-go water-color painting.
Why do things the hard way?


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