All images captured in the video are shown below for your reference. All camera settings (EXIF Data) are also listed with each photo.

EQUIPMENT

The beautiful thing about bracketing is that it is possible on literally any camera system, as long as you’re able to keep the camera in the same place in between photos. This makes the most important piece of equipment for bracketing the tripod system. Referenced below is the tripod and ball-head system I use and recommend:

  • Manfrotto 190 Go! M-Series Carbon Fiber 4-Section Tripod — This is the one I use, the carbon fiber version has a significant weight reduction than it’s cheaper counterpart, the aluminum version. If you’re constantly traveling or on the go, you will definitely be thankful for the weight reduction! Also, the twist-lock leg extensions handle abuse better than the “quick-release” leg extensions found on the aluminum version.
  • Manfrotto 190XPRO Aluminum 4-Section Tripod — This is mostly the same as above, but the more affordable aluminum version. If you’re not concerned about the extra weight, it’s a super solid choice, and still small enough to easily travel.
  • BH-30 LR Ball Head with Full-Size Lever-Release Clamp — This is a Really Right Stuff ballhead. Although pricey, you will be forever thankful in the long run. You have to also get a camera specific “L-Plate” based on which camera body you’re using. They precisely machine a single piece of aluminum to perfectly mate with your camera body, ensuring there’s absolutely no room for movement while shooting.

As shown in the video it’s possible to bracket by simply changing the shutter speed, but nearly every DSLR has a drive mode that will automate the exposure bracketing process. This drive mode functionality and process varies between camera models; if you’re not familiar with how to activate it, I’ve sourced articles from various sources for each different camera model below:

It is also important to mention that it is possible and sometimes necessary to bracket with more than just 3 images. If you’re dealing with a very dynamic scene, and want to deliver the highest possible quality end result to your client you may bracket up to 5 even 7 images of varying exposure levels to ensure to have accurate data for every bit of light within the frame. This is typically not necessary and reserved for large ad campaigns for manufacturers with meticulous art directors.

EDITING

As shown in the video, it’s important to note you must Merge to HDR in Lightroom, not Merge to HDR Pro in Photoshop. Making your base adjustments to the merged HDR in Lightroom is how you properly utilize all of the data you now have to work with thanks to the bracketed image. Currently, if you take that HDR straight into Photoshop and make adjustments you’re not getting the full benefit of the bracketed image.

Once you’ve made your base adjustments to the HDR in Lightroom, you may then bring that into Photoshop for your further edits such as color grading, compositing, etc.

With the photo in this video and article, all adjustments made were exposure, curves, and color grading. On LiveClass Commune I teach an in-depth 3 hour editing class specifically on this subject “Advanced Color Grading” . If you’re new to color grading, or even experienced and looking for new techniques, I highly suggest taking this course!