Archive for June, 2016

The price is right: Canon EOS Rebel T6 / 1300D Review

29 Jun

Key Features

  • 18MP APS-C CMOS sensor
  • 9-point autofocus system
  • 1080/30p video capture
  • Fixed 3″ 920k-dot LCD
  • ISO 100-6400, expandable to 12800
  • 3 fps burst shooting
  • Wi-Fi with NFC

The Canon EOS Rebel T6 / 1300D is an entry-level DSLR targeted toward first-time ILC users and smartphone upgraders. Built around an 18MP APS-C sensor, the T6 offers Wi-Fi with NFC for easy photo sharing when you’re out-and-about, and adds a faster processor compared to its predecessor, the Rebel T5.

Its closest competitor in the category is the Nikon D3300, which was announced in January 2014 and is getting a little long in the tooth at this point.

As per Rebel tradition, the T6 packages up some tech borrowed from previous-generation higher end models, and that’s no bad thing. It offers a 9-point AF module, 1080/30p video and built-in Wi-Fi with NFC. Battery life is a very respectable 500 shots per charge, putting it near the top of its class in that respect. But one of the T6’s headline features isn’t on the inside of the camera at all, it’s written on the outside of the box: that sweet $ 500 price tag with lens.

The T6 is better tuned to a beginner’s needs and hits an aggressively low price point

Offering tech handed down from previous generations at a very reasonable price is what the Rebel line has traditionally done best. The original Digital Rebel is just about 13 years old, and was essentially a single-dial 10D in a plastic body, priced at $ 1000 with kit lens – a breakthrough price-point for DSLRs at the time. As well as being cheaper still, the T6 is a vastly more capable camera than that pioneering Rebel, and better tuned to a beginner’s needs. 

In short, with the T6, Canon has gathered up various components it had lying around on the shelf from Rebels past and put them together in an aggressively priced bundle. Smart business move for Canon, but is it the best way to spend your $ 500? Read on. 

Articles: Digital Photography Review (

Comments Off on The price is right: Canon EOS Rebel T6 / 1300D Review

Posted in Uncategorized


Sony Alpha SLT-A68 real-world samples

29 Jun

The Alpha SLT-A68 is Sony’s entry-level Translucent Mirror camera and the follow-up to the a58. Despite its position in the entry-level class, it borrows many components from its big brother, the Sony SLT- A77 II. This includes a 79 point AF system with 15 cross-type points, Bionz X processor and a stabilized sensor. It all adds up to quite a lot of camera.

The weather is just starting to really warm up here in Seattle and the long days offer plenty of sun-filled hours for shooting. We’ve been out and about with the a68; click the link below to get a sense of its real-world image quality.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (

Comments Off on Sony Alpha SLT-A68 real-world samples

Posted in Uncategorized


How to Improve Composition by Placing your Subject Off-Center

29 Jun

You may be wondering – shouldn’t you always place your subject or main point of interest off-center? Isn’t that what the rule of thirds is about? If so, I suggest you refer back to my earlier article about creating strong compositions with a centrally placed subject. It makes the point that it’s perfectly possible to create a well composed image with the subject placed centrally.

Central composition

Equally, there are times when you should place the main point of interest away from the center of the frame. Not necessarily on a third, but anywhere between the centre of the frame and the edge, centered neither vertically nor horizontally.

I firmly believe that you should never ask yourself whether you should place the main subject or focal point on a third when you take a photo. There are much better questions to ask, such as:

  • Is there enough space around the subject to give it room to breathe?
  • Are there any highlights near the edge of the frame that take the viewer’s eye out of the photo?
  • How does the viewer’s eye move through the photo? This question may be partly answered during post-processing, where you can darken or lighten parts of the image to guide the viewer’s eye.
  • How do I make this photo as interesting as possible?

The answers to these questions influence the decisions you make in composition, and help you decide where to place the main point of interest. Let’s look at some examples.

Examples of off-centered compositions

I took the following photo in a historical building in Beijing called Prince Gong’s mansion. There was a courtyard inside, with Tibetan prayer wheels down one side. As people walked into the courtyard, most of them walked down past the prayer wheels, spinning them as they went. This boy decided to join in the fun.

Composition and placement

I placed him off-center because was shooting through some red tags (like the ones you see behind the boy) hanging from another structure. I used an aperture of f/5 to make sure the tags were out of focus. They create a frame that adds a sense of depth, and also pushes the eye towards the boy. It helps that his yellow T-shirt contrasts with the surrounding red hues.

The next image was taken in New Zealand. I found these beautiful stones by the sea, and asked my model Ashley to lay down on them.

Composition and placement

I liked the way the blue dress contrasted against the more subdued colors of the rocks. I framed the photo so that Ashley’s body formed a diagonal that takes the viewer’s eye from the right side of the photo, to the left. Her face, which is the main focal point of the image, had to be placed off-centre. If it was central there would be lots of empty space on the left-hand side of the image, and it would be unbalanced.

Incidentally, there is an idea that it is better to compose photos to work with the natural tendency to read a page from left to right. As this photo does the opposite and takes the eye from the right of the frame to the left, I flipped it so that you can see the difference.

Composition and placement

Which version of the photo do you think works best? If you have an opinion please let me know in the comments below. I know which version I think is better, but I’d be interested to hear it from people seeing the photo with fresh eyes.

The next photo was taken in the Great Mosque in Xi’an, China. The boy was trying to catch the cat, and I took a photo as he ran after it.

Composition and placement

The boy is the focal point of the image, and because he is moving from left to right in the frame he needs some space to move into – the empty space on the right of the frame provides this. If the boy was centered in the frame there would be too much space on his left.

The next photo, a close-up of a flower, is interesting because it has two focal points.

Composition and placement

The main focal point is provided by the open flower on the left. But the closed flower on the right is a second focal point that also pulls the eye. The result is that the viewer’s eye moves back and forth between the two points. When you have two focal points in a photo like this, it makes sense for them to be on opposite sides of the frame, and therefore off-centre, so that they fill the frame adequately.

I took the next photo at a concert in Auckland, New Zealand.

Composition and placement

I placed the guitarist off-centre so that I could show him in context. Behind him you have another band member on the keyboard, and three spotlights. You can also see some Chinese lanterns (this photo was taken at the Chinese Lantern Festival in Auckland). The lights also provide leading lines to draw the viewer’s eye to the guitarist.

For the next photo we return to Beijing, this time to the Forbidden City.

Composition and placement

I was sitting on a bench resting, when I realized that the doors and pillars you see in the photo lined up nicely when viewed through my 35mm lens. I waited, and took photos as people passed through, hoping to get a good image. Until finally the little boy you see in this image walked through the doorway and hid. A few seconds later he jumped out to surprise someone – as a man, presumably his father, walked through the doorway.

The boy is so small in the frame that you may not have noticed him right away. It is good for photos to contain surprises like this, as a kind of reward for the viewer when they finally spot it.

The colors in this photo also harmonize well. The yellow of the boys’ shorts echoes the yellow around the door frame, and the yellow tiles on the pillars. This is purely luck, but it’s the kind of luck that presents itself when you are present with your camera.

What do you think? What factors do you consider when deciding where to place the main focal points? Let me know in the comments.

Mastering Composition

If you’d like to learn more about composition then please check out my ebook Mastering Composition: A Photographer’s Guide to Seeing.

googletag.cmd.push(function() {
tablet_slots.push( googletag.defineSlot( “/1005424/_dPSv4_tab-all-article-bottom_(300×250)”, [300, 250], “pb-ad-78623” ).addService( googletag.pubads() ) ); } );

googletag.cmd.push(function() {
mobile_slots.push( googletag.defineSlot( “/1005424/_dPSv4_mob-all-article-bottom_(300×250)”, [300, 250], “pb-ad-78158” ).addService( googletag.pubads() ) ); } );

The post How to Improve Composition by Placing your Subject Off-Center by Andrew S. Gibson appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Digital Photography School

Comments Off on How to Improve Composition by Placing your Subject Off-Center

Posted in Photography


How to Use Photoshop to Enhance Details in Your Photos

29 Jun

Do you think that your images lack details? Here is the way to extract the extra details that are already present in your photos, but are not visible, using Photoshop. Some methods like high pass sharpening will either give you a way too crunchy look or create halos around the edges of the different elements in your image. However, this Continue Reading

The post How to Use Photoshop to Enhance Details in Your Photos appeared first on Photodoto.


Comments Off on How to Use Photoshop to Enhance Details in Your Photos

Posted in Photography


The Secret to Getting Tack Sharp Images for the Web

29 Jun

Do your images end up looking soft when you resize them and export them for the web? When you resize an image, it loses some sharpness. With a 24 MP image measuring 6000 px you need to resize quite a lot to downsize it for optimal web use which is often around 800 px wide. That is why a set-once-and-forget Continue Reading

The post The Secret to Getting Tack Sharp Images for the Web appeared first on Photodoto.


Comments Off on The Secret to Getting Tack Sharp Images for the Web

Posted in Photography


Sony announces camera shipment delays due to Kumamoto earthquake

29 Jun

The earthquake that hit Japan’s Kumamoto prefecture in April affected multiple camera companies with facilities in the region, including Sony. In its most recent statement about the matter, Sony revealed several camera models that will be delayed getting to customers.

The following models are mentioned in Sony’s statement: 

  • a7
  • a7R
  • a7S
  • a5100
  • a77 II
  • a99

It’s interesting to note that the delays primarily affect older models, suggesting the company is concentrating its supplies and efforts on its most popular models. Sony also states that other models not specifically mentioned above might be delayed as well.

Via: Sony

Articles: Digital Photography Review (

Comments Off on Sony announces camera shipment delays due to Kumamoto earthquake

Posted in Uncategorized


Sony a6300 Mirrorless Camera – Thoughts and Field Test

29 Jun

Sony has spent recent years charging full steam ahead into the full-frame mirrorless camera market. But they have also managed to satisfy the desires of APS-C shooters, mainly through their widely-popular a6000 mid-range mirrorless camera. In March 2016, just two years after the debut of the a6000, Sony released the a6300 with improved features, that still retain many of the characteristics of the older model.

To be clear, Sony doesn’t intend for the a6300 to be a replacement for the a6000, meaning the older camera is still in production and can be purchased at a very attractive price point (around $ 549.00 for the body only).

Sony a6300 Mirrorless Camera

My Camera Background

Before diving into this review, I want to clarify my digital camera experiences to make my perspective more apparent. The Sony a6300 is the very first mirrorless camera I’ve owned, besides my very brief experiment with the a6000 for comparison purposes. Until recently, I’ve shot almost exclusively with Canon DSLRs, namely the 5D Mark III and 6D. As a result, many of the a6300’s features such as its pop-out LCD screen and electronic viewfinder might seem like standard features to other mirrorless shooters, but for a Canon DSLR user like myself, these are newfound novelties that turned my world upside down. With that being said, let’s move on to the a6300’s specs.

Key Features of the Sony a6300

Sony a6300 Mirrorless Camera

The main improvement with the Sony a6300 is a newly developed sensor with a pixel count of 24MP (same as the a6000) that is packed with a whopping 425 phase-detection AF points, which is significantly higher than the a6000’s 179 AF points. According to Sony, the a6300 has the greatest number of phase-detection points to date, on an interchangeable-lens camera ,and makes the a6300 the camera with the world’s fastest autofocus.

Video is another aspect that Sony upgraded on the a6300, with the inclusion of 4k video recording capabilities, the addition of a mic socket, and the ability to record time code. Besides the autofocus and video systems, the a6300 sees an OLED 2.36M-dot viewfinder, an improvement from the a6000’s OLED 1.44M-dot viewfinder. Battery life is also slightly improved at 400 shots versus 360 shots.

Physically, the a6300 is only 2 ounces heavier than its predecessor, although it feels much more solid with its weather-sealed magnesium alloy build, that was lacking on the a6000. An AEL button with an AF/MF switch has also been conveniently added to the back of the camera, which sports and action shooters should find handy. Other than these few additions, the Sony a6300 doesn’t look or feel much different than the a6000.

Overall, these added features of the a6300 clearly appeal to shooters looking to focus on action, sports, and video.

Sony a6300 Mirrorless Camera

Sample action shot with a Sony 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens.

Pros of the a6300

While discussing the pros and cons of the a6300, it should be noted that many of the same features are also available on the a6000.

Extremely compact

As a DSLR shooter, the a6300’s compact size was particularly appealing. While testing the Sony a6300, I used both the kit 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 retractable zoom lens, and the Sony 20mm f/2.0 pancake lens, and was amazed that both were incredibly lightweight and basically the same size. There is of course, the trade-off of both lenses being made of plastic and not feeling as robust as say a Fujifilm lens, but they both perform very well and weigh close to nothing. Pairing either lens with the a6300 makes for a very compact, low-profile camera system that is perfect for travel.

Sony a6300 Mirrorless Camera

An informal food photo taken at a restaurant table moments before consumption. Shot with a Sony 20mm f/2.8.

Silent Shutter

While many DSLRs offer a Silent Shutter that is still quite noisy, the a6300’s silent shutter feature makes the camera so quiet you wouldn’t even know a photo was being taken. It’s a great feature for undercover or candid photography moments when you truly want no sound associated with taking a photo. With that said, non-silent shooting on the a63000 produces a very crisp shutter snap, especially when firing away at the camera’s highest shutter speed of 11 frames per second.

Panoramic shooting feature that actually works (most of the time)

After consistently trying, and failing, to take advantage of panoramic shooting on a variety of devices from point and shoots to cell phone cameras, I was beginning to think that on-the-go panoramic shooting was a myth, until I tried it with the a6300. Unlike other devices, the a6300 will shoot and stitch together a near-perfect horizontal or vertical panorama even when your manual panning isn’t spot on. There were a few times when the camera insisted that I wasn’t panning straight enough to make a clear pano shot, but most of the time even my wobbly panning techniques were good enough for the a6300 to make sense of.

Sony a6300 Mirrorless Camera

Sample panorama shot with a Sony 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens.

Focus Modes + Face Recognition

Easily two of the best features of the a6300 are the Face Registration and Eye AF (autofocus) features, which do pretty much what their names imply. Activating Face Registration allows you to program the a6300 to recognize and prioritize up to eight faces. This feature is incredibly handy when shooting a crowd of people, and the a6300’s accuracy of picking out the correct face is astounding. Eye AF works very similarly, but without the need to register (program them in) the eyes. Simply enable Eye AF on the a6300 and the camera will automatically search for your subject’s eyes and track them using continuous autofocus. This feature is so spot-on that the a6300 will even lock onto artistic renderings of eyes, such as a painted portrait.

Sony a6300 Mirrorless Camera

Sample portrait shot with a Sony 20mm f/2.8 lens.

Quick Wi-Fi connection

Like most newer digital cameras today, the a6300 has Wi-Fi and NFC, to connect with smartphones and tablets for remote camera shooting, and wireless image transfer via Sony’s PlayMemories Mobile app. Setting up Wi-Fi on the camera is very quick and intuitive, and Sony’s accompanying app also includes an array of other options that can further enhance your shooting experience, such as time-lapse and multiple exposure apps, among many others.

Built-in flexible flash

Sony a6300 flash

Thankfully, Sony kept one of the a6000’s best features on the a6300: a built-in pop-up flash. Extremely compact and flexible, the little flash can bend 45 degrees to tilt upwards, allowing for bouncing the flash off the ceiling.  Next to the pop-up flash is a hot shoe mount that can fire Canon or Nikon Speedlight flashes when used with an adapter.

One accessory that can help fully utilize the pop-up flash are plastic bounce cards which attach to the a6300 via the hot-shoe mount, and hold the flash in an upright position.

Sony a6300 Mirrorless Camera

Sample night shot with a Sony 20mm f/2.8 lens.

Sony Lens Options

Currently, there are over 70 Sony lenses that you can purchase to go along with your new a6300 body. Options range from compact, low-priced primes and larger, higher-priced zoom lenses. Cheaper prime options include the 16mm f/2.8, 20mm f/2.8, 28mm f/2, 30mm f/3.5 macro, 35mm f/1.8, and 50mm f/1.8, all ranging in price from $ 249.99-$ 449.99. Wide-range zoom lenses, without a fixed f-stop, are also somewhat affordable, such as the 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 ($ 749.99) or the 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 ($ 998.99)

Sony 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 ($ 749.99)

However, Sony’s higher-quality lenses are much higher in price, which may be difficult to swallow if you’re converting from a DSLR kit. Larger, high-quality Sony primes such as the 24mm f/2 and 35mm f/1.4, prices are upwards of $ 1,200.00 and more. The same is true for Sony’s versions of traditional DSLR lenses such as the 16-35mm f/2.8 ($ 2,248.99), 24-70mm f/2.8 ($ 2,098.00), and 70-200mm f/2.8 ($ 2,999.99). If you’re a DSLR shooter with an array of lenses, you can always invest in a converter to use your DSLR lenses with your Sony camera body, but at the expense of slower autofocus.

When you purchase either the Sony a6000 or a6300, you have the option of buying it body-only, or with a 16-55mm f/3.5-5.6 E-mount retractable zoom kit lens, which is valued at approximately $ 260.99 if purchased separately. For its size, range, and overall performance, the kit lens, plus a Sony prime lens, aren’t a bad starter combination, especially if you’re looking to keep your gear compact and lightweight, and aren’t quite ready to invest in higher-priced Sony E-mount lenses yet.

ISO Performance

Sony opted to improve the a6300’s high-ISO performance by including a native ISO range of 100-25,600 with the possibility of extending that ISO to 51,200. While the ability to shoot at higher ISO is great in theory, I found that ISO 6400 was the highest I could comfortably push the a6300 in darker environments, without sacrificing too much image quality. Even my RAW photos shot at ISO 6400 were a little too grainy for my taste, no matter how much noise-reduction I did in post-processing.

Sony a6300 high ISO2

Cons of the a6300

Sony’s bloated camera menu

A common complaint among Sony shooters, that I have to agree with, is that the camera menu is very difficult to navigate. It truly seems like Sony outfitted the a6300 with so many features, and tried to stuff them all into a menu, that it can take weeks for new Sony shooters to get used to using the camera.

This could be easily solved if Sony allowed users to customize the menu a bit more, so that frequently-used features can be quickly accessed. As it stands, Sony only allows assigning custom functions to the camera’s physical buttons, and there aren’t nearly enough of those.

With that being said, the trick to making sense of Sony’s menus is to customize as much of the camera’s settings as possible. Presently, I’ve customized the buttons and settings on the a6300 set to shoot almost identically to the way I shoot with my Canon 5D Mark III, making it easier to switch from one system to another.

Sony a6300 Mirrorless Camera

Sample action shot with a Sony 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens.

LCD screen sometimes blanks out

When it comes to the a6300’s LCD screen, I was grateful for its pop-out rotating feature, something that has been sorely lacking on Canon DSLRs. Some other reviewers complained about the a6300 lacking a touch screen LCD, but again, this is something I’ve never had on a camera, so the fact that it’s missing doesn’t bother me.

One feature of the a6300’s LCD that was troublesome, was its occasional blackouts, which usually occurred right after rotating the screen. Oftentimes, the only way to get the LCD working again was to turn the camera off and on. With that said, using the electronic viewfinder (EVF) always worked without fail, even when the LCD blanked out.

Over to you

Do you already shoot with the Sony a6300, or are you considering making the move? What do you love about it, or what hesitations remain? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

googletag.cmd.push(function() {
tablet_slots.push( googletag.defineSlot( “/1005424/_dPSv4_tab-all-article-bottom_(300×250)”, [300, 250], “pb-ad-78623” ).addService( googletag.pubads() ) ); } );

googletag.cmd.push(function() {
mobile_slots.push( googletag.defineSlot( “/1005424/_dPSv4_mob-all-article-bottom_(300×250)”, [300, 250], “pb-ad-78158” ).addService( googletag.pubads() ) ); } );

The post Sony a6300 Mirrorless Camera – Thoughts and Field Test by Suzi Pratt appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Digital Photography School

Comments Off on Sony a6300 Mirrorless Camera – Thoughts and Field Test

Posted in Photography


Nolli App of Rome: Use a Classic Map as a Modern Travel Guide

29 Jun

[ By WebUrbanist in Destinations & Sights & Travel. ]

nolli map complete panels

The Nolli Map of Rome is one of history’s most famous works of cartography, and now a new iPhone and iPad app lets you use it to navigate in realtime, helping you both lose and find yourself in one of Europe’s most marvelous ancient cities.

nolli app of rome

Finished in 1748 after 12 years of research  by Italian architect and surveyor Giambattista Nolli, this innovative map represented a novel approach to figure-ground representation. Streets and open public spaces were, for instance, predictably depicted as voids against a backdrop of solid hashes, but so to were enclosed civic spaces like the Pantheon.


The original engraved city map consisted of 12 copper plates spanning 40 square feet, and, at the time, was the most accurate representation of the city to date. Honoring that tradition, this digital experience replicates many original features and details from the vintage original.

nolli versus modern rome

So why would you want to tour modern Rome with a centuries-old map? Its creator, Martin Koppenhöfer, explains that “despite its age, this map is still very valid for most parts of the Roman center.” He also notes that “it is quite entertaining to find your way with this app. Pedestrian navigation is very different … you don’t have to know every street or turn, just go into the right direction.”

index of rome

Think of it as part walking tour, part adventure and part historical education. Using an old map to navigate a city lets you find things that might have otherwise escaped your attention. It also allows you to distinguish between more permanent fixtures of the historic built environment and more contemporary changes and additions. If you lack a compatible device for the app, you can also check out an online interactive (but less mobile) version of this iconic map.

nolli zoomed overlay

“In designing the present edition,” Koppenhöfer elaborated in and interview with WebUrbanist, “we have spent great care with the aim to be as close to the original as possible regarding the labeling and the structure of the directories. Therefore the app reproduces in the indices on the left side of the map exactly those types in the exact order and (to the contemporary reader occasionally appearing outmoded) notation as provided by Giambattista Nolli in his indices. By selecting an entry you will be led to the corresponding location on the map. You can also browse by tapping on one of the numbers on the map to see what it is about.”

nolli map historical view

nolli indexed mpa closeup

The original version is meticulously adhered to, providing an updated digital experience while maintaining original notes and styles. “The explanations of the signatures and line styles,” says Koppenhöfer, and “hatches and selected abbreviations are reproduced in their original form (see “Legend”). You can access Nolli’s original spelling of the indices, legend, and other signs at the bottom of the English version in Italian language.”

Share on Facebook

[ By WebUrbanist in Destinations & Sights & Travel. ]

[ WebUrbanist | Archives | Galleries | Privacy | TOS ]


Comments Off on Nolli App of Rome: Use a Classic Map as a Modern Travel Guide

Posted in Creativity


Tokina AT-X 11-16 Pro DX II Review: Best Value from Wide Angle

29 Jun

Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 is an ultra wide angle lens for crop sensor camera bodies (DX) with a moderately fast constant aperture of f2.8. It is Tokina’s top of the line lens (AT-X) with an internal focusing (IF) and Super-low Dispersion glass (SD). It is available in Canon, Nikon and Sony A mounts. Due to its focal length and fast aperture, Continue Reading

The post Tokina AT-X 11-16 Pro DX II Review: Best Value from Wide Angle appeared first on Photodoto.


Comments Off on Tokina AT-X 11-16 Pro DX II Review: Best Value from Wide Angle

Posted in Photography


How to Use Bracketing to get Your Best Shot – 3 Different Methods

29 Jun

One of the most difficult and frustrating parts about shooting with film, back before the days of digital photography, was the limited amount of attempts you had to get the photo you wanted. I remember carrying around spare rolls of film in a fanny (waist) pack on a trip to Walt Disney World years ago, and carefully considering each photo, lest I get one setting wrong and blow the entire shot.

How to use bracketing3 Different methods(1)

Back then you had to wait days, or even weeks, to get your pictures back from a processing lab, and if a picture was too dark, grainy, or out of focus there was nothing you could do about it at that point. Fortunately, digital cameras are far more forgiving than their film-based counterparts, and have many systems in place to make sure you do get the shot you want. But even then, sometimes things still don’t quite work out.

Thanks to a technique called bracketing, you can use the power of your camera, combined with the space available on most memory cards, to make sure you always end up with just the right photo every time.

What is Bracketing?


There’s a classic children’s tale called Goldilocks and the Three Bears, in which a young girl enters the home of the bears and helps herself to their food, furniture, and futons. With each set of items there are three options: two that don’t quite work out and one that is, as the story goes, just right. While the story could be seen as a cautionary tale about the dangers of sneaking into the home of wild animals, and sleeping in their beds uninvited, its lessons can also be applied to photography.

Essentially, Goldilocks demonstrates the concept of bracketing, by giving herself many options so she can make sure to have at least one that is precisely what she is looking for. In photography there are various types of bracketing, but all involve taking multiple photos, so as to ensure you have at least one good picture. Bracketing can also be used to combine different elements of various photos together to get the best of all versions. The three most common versions of bracketing involve exposure, focus, and white balance.

If you have ever struggled to get just the right shot, or want to learn a new technique to improve your photography, this might be just the thing you’ve been looking for.

Exposure Bracketing

Modern digital cameras are pretty good when it comes to evaluating a scene, and giving you just the right exposure. You can even use different metering modes where your camera looks at either the whole scene, just the center, or even a specific part of the photo like the highlights or some faces. If you know precisely how to control your camera to get the shot you want, you can use these various metering modes, in tandem with your camera’s built-in light meter, to get just the right exposure.

However sometimes it pays to take a few extra pictures to make sure you, like Goldilocks, get an image that is just right. This is where exposure bracketing comes in handy since you can take several additional photos, some underexposed and some overexposed, to make sure you go home with the perfect picture.


There are several ways to go about using the bracketing technique, and one of the most simple is to put your camera in Program Mode and use your camera’s exposure compensation function.

First, take a picture that appears to be properly exposed. Then use the exposure compensation option to intentionally underexpose your image by one or two stops (-1 or -2). More than two stops is generally unnecessary. You are of course free to do so, but it’s quite rare that your camera’s meter would be off so much as to require more than two stops of exposure compensation to get the picture you want.

Then use exposure compensation to intentionally overexpose your image by one or two stops (+1 or +2), and in the end you will have at least three photos from which to choose: one that your camera thinks is properly exposed, one that is underexposed, and one that is overexposed. This may seem kind of redundant, but it’s a nice insurance policy to make sure you get just the right photo you want. It works especially well if you are shooting landscapes, or other outdoor scenery, as the bright sunlight coming from overhead can sometimes cause your camera to meter a scene improperly, even if you think you have everything set up just right.

Bracketing for HDR

Another benefit of using exposure bracketing, is that it lets you create stunning works of art using a technique known as HDR, or High Dynamic Range. This requires the use of exposure bracketing, a tripod, and often some special software like Photoshop, Lightroom, or Aurora HDR Pro, to combine several photos into one.

To get started with HDR you need at least three images, bracketed in full stops of exposure. Take one image properly exposed, then underexpose by one or two stops, and then overexpose by one or two stops. Some cameras do this bracketing automatically with a built-in bracketing function (AEB) but I often find that I like to control the exposures manually with exposure compensation, or by using manual mode. You can use more than that, but if you are just starting out three bracketed photos should be sufficient.

Once you have your bracketed photos, load them into the software of your choice, and you can instruct it to combine them into a single photo that takes the best parts of all the images and creates a single frame-worthy masterpiece. To see this in action, first look at the following image, which despite having a fairly even exposure overall, still suffers in a few areas.

This is an un-retouched JPEG image straight from my camera. The overall exposure is good but the sky is bright white and the hallway is a bit too dark.

This is an un-retouched JPEG image straight from my camera. The overall exposure is good, but the sky is bright white and the hallway is a bit too dark.

I used exposure compensation to overexpose the image by two stops, which lost almost everything in the sky, but brought out much more detail and color in the darker areas of the hallway.

The same image, over-exposed by two stops.

The same scene, overexposed by two stops.

Then I took a third image, this time underexposing by two stops, which made the dark parts really dark, but brought out much more color in the sky.

This image was intentionally under-exposed by two stops.

This image was intentionally underexposed by two stops.

Finally, I used Aurora HDR Pro to combine all three bracketed JPEG images into one that contains the best of all worlds. This shows how useful bracketing can be, and might give you some ideas for how to use it in your own photography.

This final image was made using Aurora HDR Pro to combine all three bracketed shots into one, and final edits in LR including correcting the tilting building.

This final image was made using Aurora HDR Pro to combine all three bracketed shots into one, and final edits in LR including correcting the tilting building.

In recent years the image sensors on many cameras have gotten so good, that the use of exposure bracketing is not as critical as it was in days gone by. If you shoot in RAW instead of JPG, a single image will often contain so much information in the highlights and shadows, which you can recover using Lightroom or Photoshop, that you simply don’t need to take separate images and combine them later. One major disadvantage of this is the file sizes, which on some RAW formats can be anywhere from two to 10 times as large as a JPG file. At the end of the day though, exposure bracketing is still a valuable technique that many photographers rely on to get just the right result, and you might enjoy trying it out to see if it works for you.

Focus Bracketing

Another way to apply the bracketing technique is to take several images that are focused at various distances, which is especially critical when doing close-up photos or taking macro shots. On most cameras the autofocus generally works great to make sure things are crystal clear and tack sharp. But, when using very shallow depth of field, or focusing on objects that are extremely close, it’s not always going to produce the most reliable results.

Often when doing this type of photography you will end up with pictures that are just slightly out of focus in one direction or another, either in front of the subject or behind it, and there is no way to fix that in Photoshop, or any other image editor.

I made this image by slowly adjusting the focus on my lens while I took several shots. Only one had the single strand sharp and in focus, but that one picture was all I needed.

I made this image by slowly adjusting the focus on my lens while I took several shots. Only one had the single strand sharp and in focus, but that one picture was all I needed.

The solution to this problem is to take not one picture, but several, and use manual focus instead of automatic. I start by intentionally focusing not on the subject but slightly behind it, then I slowly turn the focusing ring on my lens as I take several images in a row. I know it can be a bit intimidating to shoot using manual focus, but once you try using this technique, you will probably start to see how useful it can be.

When you have your set of images loaded in Lightroom, or another image editor, you can then pick out the exact one you want, instead of hoping you got one in focus while relying on your camera’s built-in autofocusing algorithm. If you want to get into an even more advanced technique with focus bracketing, you can actually combine all your photos into one super-sharp image using a technique called focus stacking. But if that seems like a bit much for you, it’s still worth your time to try regular focus bracketing, just to make sure your close-up subjects are tack sharp.

Nailing focus on the water drop was almost impossible, so I took several images while focusing manually to make absolutely sure I got at least one good image.

Nailing focus on the water drop was almost impossible. So I took several images while focusing manually, to make absolutely sure I got at least one good image.

White Balance Bracketing

The final technique I want to discuss here is similar to the other two types of bracketing in that it also involves taking several photos of the same scene, while adjusting a single parameter. In this case it’s the white balance, instead of the exposure or focus. Most casual photographers use the Automatic White Balance setting on their cameras, which does a pretty good job most of the time. But every now and then it can leave an image with an ugly green or red tint, or all pale and washed out, because of improper white balance.

The lighting conditions here wreaked havoc with my camera's Auto white balance, so I took five separate exposures and manually adjusted the white balance each time in order to make sure I got one good shot.

The lighting conditions here wreaked havoc with my camera’s Auto white balance. So, I took five separate exposures, and manually adjusted the white balance each time, in order to make sure I got one good shot.

White balance bracketing can be very useful if you shoot JPG, because your camera’s Auto white balance setting is not always as reliable as you want it to be. However, if you shoot RAW you have complete freedom to alter white balance as much as you want using a program like Lightroom, Photoshop, or almost any other image editor. Because the RAW format does not discard any photo data like JPG does, white balance bracketing is not needed when you are shooting. That gives you far more flexibility for fine-tuning things like white balance, as long as you are willing to take the time to do it.

Do you find bracketing to be useful in your own photography? When have any of these techniques been especially useful to you? Share your thoughts, and any pictures as well, in the comments below.

googletag.cmd.push(function() {
tablet_slots.push( googletag.defineSlot( “/1005424/_dPSv4_tab-all-article-bottom_(300×250)”, [300, 250], “pb-ad-78623” ).addService( googletag.pubads() ) ); } );

googletag.cmd.push(function() {
mobile_slots.push( googletag.defineSlot( “/1005424/_dPSv4_mob-all-article-bottom_(300×250)”, [300, 250], “pb-ad-78158” ).addService( googletag.pubads() ) ); } );

The post How to Use Bracketing to get Your Best Shot – 3 Different Methods by Simon Ringsmuth appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Digital Photography School

Comments Off on How to Use Bracketing to get Your Best Shot – 3 Different Methods

Posted in Photography