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Composition - Bracketing

Original article:  Composition - Bracketing

Go Climb A Rock
The other day my friends and I decided to take a hike. 'Go climb a rock' as it where. Actually a friend decided it was as good a time as any to put a check mark next to climb Half Dome on his list of Things To Do. Always game for getting things checked off a list, I consented to tag along.

Park Service literature rates this hike on the top end of strenuous as far as day hikes in Yosemite National Park go. From the Happy Isles starting point, it's a 16 mile round trip trudge. I noted rather paradoxically that is also listed on the very top of 'Hikes to avoid if you want solitude' in several guide books. Both of these facts proved to be true. I was both strenuously exercised and had no lack for fellow hiker.

After leaving the long lines at the cables leading to and from the summit of half dome I came upon this redwood grove. Which brings me to my photographic point: photographic composition bracketing. Traditional photographic bracketing involves taking a series of photographs with different exposure settings. For example, 1 shot as the camera's light meter suggests, 1 shot slightly over exposed and 1 shot slightly under exposed. In this way you have a better chance of getting a properly exposed photograph.

By the time I had meandered back to this bit of forest, lets say around 12 miles and about 7 hours into the day, I was a bit tired and punchy. Even tired I knew there potentially was a good shot here. Not sure exactly where the shot was, I decided to bracket my composition of the scene. My first shot, in portrait, tried to get too much of the trees in the frame, and frankly, sucked. My second shot, still in portrait, was a little tighter and tried to emphasize the trail a little more, however it caught a portion of the sky which blew out the exposure (great time to employ the neutral density filters - See Neutral Density Filter article). By my 5th shot I decided to try something completely different from what I was instinctively doing. So I got in tighter and changed my composition to landscape, resulting in the above shot.

Get your Exercise
The exercise in composition bracketing is not to simply & mechanically take different shots... 1 portrait, 1 landscape... but to think about the composition. I distinctly remember saying to myself how would I crop this picture on the computer? How can I show the size of the Redwood trees without trying to get them fully in the shot? How can I handle the over exposed sky? Is there a different, more interesting angle I can take? Do they serve ice cream at the Village?

By using composition bracketing effectively, it can help you the photographer to see differently... new compositions, different angles, interestingly tighter shots, etc. Don't forget there are different types of bracketing... exposure, composition, white balance (digital), flash exposure and anything else you can think of.

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