Auto exposure bracketing (AEB) is a feature in many DSLRs that allows you to take multiple pictures at different exposures without having to use exposure compensation.
AEB is a way of enhancing the dynamic range in images.
If your camera has the feature, it can be activated in the menu.
Some cameras have an AEB button on the body itself, often denoted as ‘BKT’.
Since cameras are not capable of supporting as wide a dynamic range as the human eye, some parts of a picture, especially when photographing landscapes, turn out either too bright or too dark.
The solution to this is to take one exposure for the bright areas so they’re not overexposed, one exposure for the dark areas so they’re not underexposed, and then blend the different exposures in processing so that all parts of the image are desirably exposed.
The manual way of doing this is to take a picture with positive compensation, then change the exposure compensation to negative and take another picture. The downside to this, apart from taking longer to execute, is that unless you’re using a tripod, you may end up changing the composition unintentionally while changing the exposure compensation.
And that’s exactly where auto exposure bracketing helps.
How to use bracketing?
First, turn on auto exposure bracketing by going to the menu or with the button on the body.
Next, you must define how many exposures you want. Three are usually adequate.
You must also tell the camera how many stops of variation you want between the three exposures. This depends on how extreme the difference between the bright and dark areas of the image is, but one stop is usually adequate.
Now, you’re ready to shoot. Simply go ahead and take three pictures, and they’ll automatically be three pictures one stop of exposure apart. If you’re in the continuous burst mode, just keep the shutter-release button pressed, and the camera will do the rest. Your images may look like this:
You can then take the three pictures to an advanced-processing application such as Adobe Photoshop to blend them together to achieve a blended HDR image such as this:
Once you’re done with making the three exposures, be sure to switch off AEB, because otherwise your camera will take three different exposures for every picture you take!
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