Thursday, 5 July 2012

The Bracketing Racket...

...and how to pretend you know what you're doing

Take a look at the picture below - it's the thumb nails from a few shots I took of my dog Dasco a moment ago.

I thought something looked a bit strange, but couldn't work it out for a while - can you?

Well as you might have realised, and much to my embarrassment, as I was simply clicking away, the camera was quietly working away behind the scenes bracketing shots of three as I'd told it to the last time I used the camera.

The other thing I'm good at forgetting is to put the exposure compensation setting (the 'plus/minus' button) back to zero, and spend a moment wondering why my shots are coming out too light or too dark.

Anyway, that's the throwaway anecdote, now what can we learn?

Well, the camera's not doing a bad job with a reasonably neutral, if slightly light subject. The bracketing goes from darker, through normal to lighter, and I have the impression that the camera's best guess is underexposing just a tad -maybe a half to two thirds of a stop.

Here's a couple of examples 'straight out of the box':

Nikon D800  F/5.6  1/600s  ISO-200  PrAP  EV 0  120mm

Nikon D800  F/5.6  1/160s  ISO-200  PrAP  EV +1  120mm

You can clearly see that the first one's underexposed - there's hardly any detail in Dasco's beautiful brown eyes at all. It's wierd looking at the settings though, because the second one brought the shutter speed down by practically two stops, while the compensation was one and the pictures are virtually identical - strange.

1st Shot: Nikon D800  F/5.6  1/400s  ISO-200  PrAP  EV 0  120mm
2nd Shot: Nikon D800  F/5.6  1/200s  ISO-200  PrAP  EV +1  120mm

That makes more sense - phew! - the second pic at one stop more and the shutter speed half as fast...

Unfortunately, although the second shot above is more realistic in terms of the lightness of Dasco, the whites are also starting to get blown out, and blur is starting to become more apparent at 1/200s. I'll have to bump up the ISO from 200 and/or put it onto shutter speed priority and move it up into the thousandths of a second if possible.

What you can't see here is that dogs really don't sit still for pics are are continually moving their heads from side to side looking out for prey, predators and poochy-snacks and too slow a shutter speed can be very unforgiving indeed on a slightly dull day. That's Dasco!

Nikon D800  F/5.6  1/200s  ISO-200  PrAP  EV +1  120mm

And why not...

* Sab Will runs Photo and Curios Tours in Paris, and also manages a variety of Paris and photography-themed sites and blogs. He writes an illustrated Paris Chronicle every day, runs a Meetup group for Paris lovers, interviews Paris personalities and reviews Paris books (on this blog), and even contributes to the city's street art (shh), so feel free to browse some of the links below and in the right-hand column to find out more about what he gets up to out there...

© 2012 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

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