Using Exposure Bracketing to Photograph Real Estate Interiors

Hello, this is David Robinson and here
I’m going to show you a couple of techniques that you can use to take accurate
bracketed exposures for HDR processing. When you use these techniques,
you’ll know that you have perfectly covered the lighting range in your scene. This is especially important with
interior real estate photographs where there may be very wide differences in brightness. There are 3 basic steps: Set up the camera. Which photos to take. Taking the photos. When you’re taking bracketed shots
for HDR, they should all have the same ISO and Aperture. Only the shutter speed should vary. First set the camera to Manual mode and then set both the ISO and Aperture. The ISO setting determines how
sensitive your camera is to light. A higher ISO allows you to use a shorter shutter speed but it can also introduce unwanted noise. So, you should set the ISO as low as possible to reduce the possibility of noise. Avoid going higher than ISO 400. At this point, you’ll also need to
select a suitable aperture. This will vary, depending on the
scene, but f/8 is a good balance between depth of field and shutter speed. Because you will be taking a number of shots and some of these may have slow shutter speeds, it’s important to mount the
camera on a good solid tripod. Pressing the shutter button
may cause the camera to move a little, causing blur within the photos. Using a remote shutter release solves that problem. When you’re taking a bracketed
set for HDR, it’s very important that the darkest photo has all the details in the highlights and that the brightest photo
has the details in the shadows. Between these two you then need to fill in
the mid-tones with additional shots. Since you have already chosen the ISO and
the Aperture you’ll be using for the bracketed set, what you now have to find out is the longest, and shortest shutter speeds. The easiest way to do this uses
Spot Metering mode on your camera. Normally, when working out what exposure to use, your camera looks at a large part of the scene but in Spot Metering mode it looks at just a small area, usually around the centre of the image. Because you want the camera to work out
the exposure to use with the aperture you’ve chosen, switch to Aperture Priority mode. The first reading is for the photo that
requires the longest shutter speed. Point the camera at the darkest area inside the room. Read the exposure shown in
the camera and make a note of it. Now, you need to find the photo that
requires the shortest shutter speed so, point the camera at the brightest part
of the room and make a note of it. Just remember to avoid pointing
your camera directly at overly-bright objects, such as the Sun or any reflections. There’s another way to determine the
longest and shortest shutter speeds which is more precise but takes a little longer; using the brightness histogram on your camera. Most cameras have a setting that displays a histogram of the brightness levels of photos that have been taken. For this method, keep the camera in manual mode and point it at the darkest area of the room. Now take a test shot. If you have a vertical line at the
left side of the histogram, then there are dark areas you haven’t covered yet. Change the shutter speed to
something longer and try again. When you have a histogram nicely balanced like this, you’ve got a good shutter speed, so make a note of it. Now do the same thing for the shortest exposure. Point the camera at the brightest part,
adjust the shutter speed till it looks well exposed, then take another test shot. This time you need to look out for
a line on the right hand side of the graph. If you see this, adjust the
shutter speed so it becomes shorter and try again until you have
something that looks more like this … and make a note of the shutter speed used. Now that you’ve made a note of the
longest and shortest exposures, take the photos, from the fastest shutter
speed through to the slowest, and with the right number of photos in between. I’m going to show you two methods to do this: The Semi-Automated method and
the Full Manual method. The Semi-Automated method uses the Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) function of your camera and the HDR Exposure Calculator. Most DSLR cameras are capable of taking
a certain number of shots automatically, with exposures bracketed around
a central shutter speed. And the calculator will tell you
which shutter speeds to use and how many automatically
bracketed sets will be required. Here’s how the HDR calculator works: Open the app, and using the readings you noted earlier, in the first box, enter the value for the shadows which is the shutter speed for
the darkest part of the room, the longest exposure. And in the second box, the value for the highlights, which is the shutter speed for the
brightest parts of the scene, the shortest exposure. Below this, enter the AEB capabilities of your camera, that is to say, the maximum number of
exposure bracketed photos it can take. And in the final box, enter the stop
difference between them … the EV spacing that you want to use. Now click ‘Get Exposures’ and the calculator
will tell you the exact number of photos to take … the settings for the bracketed set
and how many bracketed sets you’ll need using the AEB function on your camera. So, once your camera is on a tripod,
framed and focused, we can begin taking the photos. Start by activating the AEB function on the camera … and make sure that the camera is in Manual mode. Set the shutter speed to the first value given … select your bracketed of 5 photos … and without moving the camera, take the bracketed set by pressing the remote shutter release. Or, if you’re not using one,
by pressing the shutter button. If your camera doesn’t have an AEB function, or you don’t have access to the calculator, then there’s another method to get the photos you need. Select Single-Shot mode on your
camera, and in Manual mode, dial in the fastest shutter speed. Now, take a photo. Then, decrease the shutter speed by one stop, also known as 1 EV, and take the next photo. Repeat the process until you’ve reached
the point where you’ve taken a photo with the slowest shutter speed. Using this method means that you’re
constantly touching the camera, so make sure that your tripod doesn’t
move and that all the joints are solid. So, here are the important points to remember when taking bracketed sets
using the advanced technique: Keep your ISO and Aperture unchanged between shots. Use your camera’s Spot Metering function or histogram to work out the shortest and longest shutter speeds. Use the HDR Exposure Calculator
to work out the photos you need. You can also take your photos manually, one at a time.

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