When you see an image like this one, you can almost feel the waterfall spray on your face, hear the crashing waters and smell the wet, tropical air. With beaming light mirroring the silky white cascades, it seems like you could almost step right into the scene and watch the water fall. How was Jay able to create such a natural-looking image of such a spectacular place?
As you may have guessed, images like these require more than a single shot. If you want to capture all those tropical details, you’ll have to bracket your exposures. The idea of bracketing seems pretty simple: just point your camera at the scene, take an underexposed and overexposed shot and blend them together later in post-processing. But life is rarely that simple. When I pointed the camera at the waterfalls, this is what I saw:
If I had relied on my camera’s automated exposure bracketing option and simply taken one overexposed and one underexposed shot, it would not have given me the data I needed. The lighter shot is completely useless because the shadows are overexposed. While the darker shot does offer some extra details in the highlights, the area around the sun is still pretty severely overexposed.
So how did I end up with a shot I liked? I followed a simple manual bracketing workflow:
- I set my aperture and ISO to ensure that everything in the image was sharply in focus. I was careful to capture the photo at the lowest possible ISO to keep the noise level to a minimum.
- I payed close attention to my camera’s meter and my histogram so that I could determine where and how to set my bracketing range to capture all the details in the shadows and highlights.
I decided to manually override my camera’s default bracketing settings and ended up taking these bracketed shots:
If you’d like to learn how you can be confident when it comes to bracketing images, we have a brand new course just for you. Bracketing Exposed, the first course in our Apprentice Series, will walk you through a simple, non-technical workflow to help you to determine the exact bracketing range needed to capture all the details in your image using your camera’s meter and histogram. This course is a perfect supplement for those who have mastered using histograms to determine proper exposure. It will show you when you can get away without bracketing and it will explain when manual bracketing is a better choice than your camera’s automated bracketing options.
We’ve partnered with acclaimed landscape photographer and Photoshop instructor Sean Bagshaw to bring you a vital addition to our Photoshop Collection: Extended Dynamic Range. This advanced course will show you how to blend your bracketed images to create natural-looking masterpieces.