David Johnston

Bracketing Photography in the Field

David Johnston
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Duration:   10  mins

Photographing with natural light at first might seem simple. Just point and shoot. Yet, your compositions often don’t turn out the way you’d like, the fine details missing. In this premium video, professional outdoor photographer David Johnston takes you to California’s Joshua Tree National Park to show you a key technique designed to improve your outdoor photography: bracketing photography.

Through bracketing photography, David will show you how to overcome the biggest challenge in taking outdoor photographs: dynamic range, the extreme contrast between high highlights and low shadows. You will learn how to adjust your camera settings to automatically capture a sequence of three images: first, correctly exposed for mid tones, second, underexposed for highlights, and third, overexposed for shadows. You will also learn how to read your camera’s histogram to accurately measure these light readings. The idea of bracketing photography is to capture all the details of an outdoor scene. Bracketing photography works beautifully with sunrise and sunset shots where the shadows deepen and the highlights soften into painterly pastels.

To complete the procedure, David takes you into the editing suite and shows you how bracketing works in post processing. Using Photoshop Lightroom, he merges the sequence of three bracketed photographs through a technique called HDR or High Dynamic Range. This technique creates a single merged HDR file image for final retouching. Then, in the Develop module, David employs various retouching tools to further define his HDR image. He shows you how you can make adjustments to the shadows, highlights, whites, blacks, and contrast. You can even enhance the colors through vibrance and saturation. This final phase of bracketing photography is all about bringing out the exquisite details of your final image.

Follow professional outdoor photographer David Johnston as he takes you through the process of bracketing photography to help you create a dynamic composition.

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