One of my first photographic jobs was running an E-6 lab for a London based production company. The company has three full-time photographers and it was my task to make sure the countless rolls of Ektachrome made it safely to the other side of the Durst processing machine. One of the first things that struck me was that for every roll of 36, there would only be 6 actual shots. The reason for this is that the photographers bracketed. Colour transparency film had notoriously tight exposure latitude and getting even half a stop off could be the difference between good and unusable. In recent years I have returned to bracketing, here are the reasons why.
What Is Bracketing?
Camera’s meters are not perfect. They can be fooled by an excess or lack of light, trying to average out what they see. Our eyes and even experience are also not perfect, so while we might think we have nailed the exposure, it might, in fact, be off. Bracketing allows us to take our preferred exposure either metered or estimated and also create a range of other identical shots that are both over and underexposed. The vast majority of cameras can now automatically bracket anywhere between 3 and 7 images and either 1/3rd or 1/2 stops.