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How to Make Sure You Capture the Whole Brightness Range of a Room When Shooting Brackets

Published: 07/04/2017

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Lance in California asks:

Thanks so much for your Enfuse for real estate piece. Out of all the books and tutorials I have endlessly pored over, your method works the best, and makes the most sense. I have been trying to perfect my balancing highlight and shadows technique for what seems like forever. I am getting closer, thanks to you. My question is what part of the room are you metering to get your initial exposure to start your brackets? I use Nikon gear and if I have selected Matrix metering along with my D3 and Tokina 17-35mm the bright window really gets all the attention and throws all the brackets off because of its brightness. I am thinking I should spot meter an area somewhere in the scene that is fairly neutral, and then in live view start reading my histogram for proper shadow and highlights at either end for a nice exposure blend.

I believe Lance is referring to this post from a couple of years ago. There is also a lot of good advice about shooting brackets in the comments from readers. There are many approaches to shooting brackets that work well.

The key to this method is that you use the histogram in LiveView to make sure you capture the whole brightness range of the room. The post describing this technique is a short summary of the technique that Simon Maxwell describes in detail in his e-book and video series.

Larry Lohrman

4 comments on “How to Make Sure You Capture the Whole Brightness Range of a Room When Shooting Brackets”

  1. I am old. But being so brings a few experiences from pre digital days that are still worth considering.

    When I shot Kodachrome and Velvia transparency film, precise exposure was critical. Approaching a scene with wide range of brightness was evaluated and rejected if the exposure range was beyond what the film could capture.

    I selected the small portion of the scene that needed to be "average" exposure using a spot meter or experience, and set the aperture and shutter speed to ensure that it was average in that spot, then be confident that the remaining details would be exposed dark and light within the capacity of the film's range....Usually, seeking scenes with 3 stops of exposure.

    So now, I seek out that average area and expose it for the first shot, and let the 2 stop over and under bracket control capture the rest.

  2. I have tried several techniques and have found the technique described by Simon Maxwell works best for me. However, when using the hybrid technique that he describes where flash is added to the brackets, I have had better result by flashing just one frame instead of every frame.

  3. I live in Florida, and sometimes the sun coming into the house that is hitting the pool and concrete deck, or beach sand is overwhelming.

    So, to bring in the outside window view, I've been using multiple flash units, 2 sometimes 3, depending on the room. because the Fuji cant do 1/2 stops, only 1/3 s I have been bracketing at 1 2/3 stops (might start doing 2 stop brackets) and have been doing as many as 6 exposures, using flash on each. I try to keep my flash about minus 1 stop from the main exposure for just a fill and not as the main exposure for window pull.
    I go between using LR enfuse, or Photomatix, but haven't master either. I am using the default settings on Enfuse, and am wondered if anyone has found better results changing the defaults on enfuse. I am a firm believer in shooting RAW, but now, with the Fuji XT-2 the files are so large, that I have been using the card with the smaller jpgs, as it processes much faster. (but I still have a card with the RAW files if I am not happy with my jpgs).

    I think Scott starts with a correct exposure for his window pull, then adds lighting to bring up the interior lighting, so he doesn't have to do HDR. I try to do this also, but it sometimes looks over lit and not natural. I still wish HDR could be done in camera to avoid extra Post.

  4. You can also use LiveView on your camera to set normal exposure. When doing that, avoid having blown-out regions on floor and ceiling from sun or lights. Those will come out as grey after fusion. Histogram display definitely helps. Exposure fusion is pretty forgiving to normal frame exposure selection otherwise.

    If your set up allows (if using CamRanger?) you can try using -5/0/2EV for indoors. -5EV allows to bring in windows. iGuide camera has -5/0/2 as the default setting. But in really sunny spots, e.g. in Florida our photographers are finding -4/0/4 works best for them.

    Some example images and additional explanations can be found in this post:

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