Exposing or bracketing?

A reader asks:

“When I’m shooting, sometimes I bracket exposures; I’ll do three shots, one neutral, one over and one under. When I get home, I often find that the neutral one is the correct exposure, so I delete the over- and underexposed shots. But I hear people say to expose to the right so often these days that I’m wondering if I would be better off keeping the overexposed shot instead (assuming that there are no blown highlights) and adjusting the exposure setting in post processing, because the overexposed shot should in theory, have more information than the neutral image. So, is one approach better than the other, or does it even make a difference?”

Good question.

Read my thoughts on exposing to the right here. Basically: Yes, a good technique if you do not mind the extra work, but indeed, not to excess (blowing out the right would be excess).

As for bracketing, there are two schools of thought a bout ‘routine’ bracketing. One says “you don’t have to, now that we have the histogram and instant review’. True.  The other says “why not? it used to cost a lot of money (3x the previous cost), but now the cost is essentially zero”. Also true!

I do not routinely bracket because of the extra decisions, the extra work. But I do bracket when I want to do HDR (high dynamic range) photos – like when shooting desert rocks in a bright midday sun, where one half is bright, and the other half almost completely dark. This does not happen often, but when it does, I am grateful for the convenient bracketing function on my camera.





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