Sunset Photography – How to do Bracketing Photography
Sunset Photography – How to do Bracketing Photography

Hi. In this video, we’re talking sunset photography
and how to do bracketing. Hi. I’m Adam and welcome to First Man Photography
the channel that will help you take your photography to the next level. If you haven’t done so yet, head over to,
fill in your details to join the email list and I’ll send you a free copy of the ebook
on how to catch perfect exposure every time. Okay, let’s get into this. I’ve talked before about how our eyes and
our brains work together to let us see a very large dynamic range of light. We see detail in the highlights and in the
shadows at the same time. This is not the case with our cameras still
though. They are improving all the time but they don’t
compare to our eyes. This is a particular problem in high contrast
situations and sunset photography is one of those occasions. We’re often shooting into the sunset. So it’s a very high contrast situation where
we’ve got the sun and the sky, which are very bright, and then the darkening foreground
or lend below the horizon which is getting ever darker as the sun starts to set and we
get those long shadows. One way to get around this is using physical
filters like a graduated filter which will darken the sky slightly. Another technique is to use bracketing. Now how this works is by combining a number
of exposures that capture the highlights, the mid-tones and the shadows and then we
combine them together in Lightroom or Photoshop to create one single file which has then got
all that dynamic range information in there. If it sounds a little bit like HDR photography
it is because it is pretty much the same thing. However, when were doing bracketing, we’re
really just trying to reproduce the natural scene that we saw rather than creating that
HDR look which a lot of people, including myself, don’t particularly like. But in this case, we’re just trying to reproduce
what we saw with our eyes and our brain at the time of shooting. So, if you take a look at this scene from
my most recent vlog, we’ve got the really bright highlights in the sky with the sun
coming through the clouds and hitting that tarn. In order to capture all the detail which I
could see with my eyes at the time, which is slightly different from what you can see
here, I used bracketing. To set your camera to do bracketing you, firstly,
need to be in manual mode. I’ve got lots of other videos that will
help you out with manual mode but you also will need to have your camera resting on a
tripod because we want the composition to be the same across the shots that we take. Set the ISO to 100, aperture in the F8 to
F16 range, depending upon how close your foreground is, and then you want to take a shot with
the exposure metering for the mid-tones. You want to have highlights that aren’t totally
blown out and then some detail in the shadows and this will be a good point to start your
bracketing from. You can use your histogram to help you if
you can’t quite see it on the screen but then you need to turn on bracketing mode. I’m going two stops either side is a pretty
good place to be the sunset photography. On this Canon camera, you have to the Q button
or go into the Q menu, and then you’re going to go to the bracketing meter. Then just roll the slider or press the buttons
to make the bracketing start. This will only work if you are in manual mode. So you need to roll it up to two stops higher,
two stops lower and then your exposure for the mid-tones in the middle. Put the camera onto the two second timer because
when you then it hit the shutter button it will take all three images and you’ll ensure
that there is no camera shake because, if Lightroom detects the images are slightly
different, it might refuse to combine them together. So, once you’ve taken your shot, it’s
time to put them into the computer and we’ll combine them. Okay, so we’re into Lightroom and here we
have our three images. The one on the left here is exposed for the
mid-tones, the one in the middle is exposed for the highlights, where you’ve got the
detail in the sky, and then the one on the right is exposed for the shadows where we
are pulling detail out of that foreground. In order to combine them, you just select
all three, hold shift down and then just right click and go to Photo Merge. Like I said, very similar HDR. So we’re going to hit Combine in HDR. You just have to wait a minute for Lightroom
to do its thing, combine the images and it gives you this preview. So you’ve got a couple of options here on
the right-hand side. You’ve got HDR Options, Auto Align and Auto
Tone. Leave Auto Align selected on most occasions
because it’ll keep things in in-line, like it says, and then Auto Tone. I leave this selected, generally, just to
give yourself a head start. Sometimes, it gets it wrong, sometimes it
is a bit closer to what you can actually see. Leave this set though and it will make an
attempt to get things right for you. Then you have the Deghost Amount. What this does is, generally you’re going
to be leaving this on None, but what this does is if, say, you have an aeroplane flying
through the sky at the time you’re shooting, if you don’t want that to be part of your
image, it might try and sort that. If there is some difference between the three
images that you’ve taken, if there’s something moving through the frame, for example, it
will try to remove those for you. It is not particularly good. On the whole, leave it on None and you should
be okay. So I’m going to go ahead and click Merge
and it will do its business again. So once it has finished, it creates a fourth
image which is the combined three shots. It’s a bigger file because it’s got all
that information in there from all three shots and you have the ability to adjust it to that
extent. So just hit that image, click the D button
or go into the Develop module and then we can just use our sliders as we would normally. So, as you can see, the Auto Tone has made
an attempt. It has dragged the highlights right down.You
can see the difference that makes. It’s my Shadows right up. You can see it’s got all that information
in there with those sliders so you can go ahead and edit your image as normal. Things to be careful of, to avoid having that
HDR look because were looking for an image that is similar to what we saw, try to avoid
going too far up on the Shadows. So, if we go very high on the Shadows, like
this, and then very low on the Highlights, it looks unnatural and unrealistic, especially,
when you can also use Graduated filters, like this, to bring some of the highlights down
even further which is a nice technique to use. But, as you can see, it starts to look very
false with that really bright foreground and really slightly darker highlights. So you just need to be careful how you edit
your shots. Keep it nice and natural. You also need to be careful where the horizon
line is because it starts to get this glow on the edge where that contrast is and, again,
that looks unnatural and it makes it look processed or over processed. You just have to be careful of all those little
things because, as we discussed before, it’s the little things that make the difference. You have to be careful when you’re editing
your photo. So I took this photo and edited it in to this. This is my final image when I played around
with the sliders, adjust exposure, contrasts, saturation, the normal kind of stuff. This is what I ended up with. So one question you may be asking or a concern
you might have is, is this cheating? For me, absolutely not. It is not cheating because all I’m doing is
trying to reproduce and capture the scene I saw with my own eyes and my own brain. The method that I used to do that, to me,
is irrelevant. Whether it’s using a physical, graduated filter,
bracketing like we are here or some futuristic camera in the future that’s going to capture
all that dynamic range just doesn’t matter to me because I’m just trying to reproduce
what I saw with that composition that I have chosen and decided on. So leave a comment down below to let me know
what your method for capturing sunset photography is. Have you tried bracketing? Will you try it now? Do you think it’s cheating? I’d really like to hear from you whatever
your opinion is. I hope you enjoyed this video as well. Please give it the thumbs up if you did because
that really helps me out and, as always, if you haven’t done so already, please do subscribe
to the channel because I really think you will enjoy it in fact. There’s new videos going up every Sunday
and every Wednesday and I’ll see one another one very, very soon. I’m Adam. This is First Man Photography…. Out!!!!

100 thoughts on “Sunset Photography – How to do Bracketing Photography”

  1. Gazi Khaled says:

    Does it work in Lightroom 5 or just Lightroom cc because when I use it in Lightroom 5 it takes me directly to cs6 HDR pro and I kinda don't like the pro thing. Really confused

  2. stevepa999 says:

    When people say it is cheating I tell them when you should in JPEG your cameras algorithm does the post processing for you the way it thinks best. When I shoot raw and post process the photo, I do it the way I think best. You should look at the stunned looked on their faces.

  3. Tim Blake says:

    I only use bracketing as cannot afford hundereds of dollars for grad filter systems like lee or nisi, so this is a really useful lesson for me , thankyou sooooo much.

  4. Jill Telford says:

    Thank you so much. Great information and given in an understanding way!

  5. Peak photography project Chris Nowell says:


    Just how I do it with out photo shot only dew to my eye sight. I you affiliay on apple for eases.

    Good vid 👍

  6. Micael Minutiello says:

    Nice video. Thanks! I do agree with KB Photography

  7. Samuel says:

    Iv got a bridge camera (Panasonic fz72) and Everytime I do bracketing, I always get a fuzzy image, even on a tripod and 2 sec timer the image is still fuzzy. How come this happens? 🙁

  8. eyeojo says:

    Thanks! +1

  9. Mark Dawson says:

    I've been watching a lot of videos on how to get the bracketing correct, every other video was a mess and made no sense, this for some reason made me click… Thanks heaps!!

  10. Old400 says:

    No more cheating than buying the latest-and-greatest camera because it outperforms what you could do in the past.

  11. mark johnson says:

    Having never bracketed before I certainly will now! Thank you for another clear & to the point vid !

  12. shivam modi says:

    Which App use for editing

  13. Armin Hirmer says:

    of course it is not cheating. the eye has a way larger dynamic range than any camera on the market. with bracketing we simply try to get as close to the den range of the eye as possible 🙂

  14. RAJAB ALI says:


  15. John Mac says:

    Very informative video. I use photomatix to merge my photos but I can't seem to get it to look natural. Too much of an HDR look. I will try it in lightroom next time.

  16. Dave Jones says:

    Sunset are over mate. The airlines have partnered up with geoengineering expert Dr David Kieth a geoengineering psycho who has been given 250.000.000 for development nano particles that are now places in aviation fuels. These trails can be persistent in the sky for hours and they spread the more planes that fly over the more you are going to loose blue skies and you are going to loose sunsets. Do yourself a favour and view my videos of chemtrails being laid in the skies. Please spread what is happening and also join the millions on Facebook taking photos of chemtrails that are fcking up the sun not getting to our earth.

  17. Rick Leeman says:

    Nice video! ! Just one question; what was your focus point? Before the camera start shooting

  18. Christian Schoter says:

    I don't own any graduated filters so I always bracket (when needed).

  19. ponybottle says:

    I would argue that it doesn't matter what anyone says.
    Either you are trying to provide a documentary image – exactly as seen without any embellishments – clinical; uncritical; disconnected; scrupulously honest…
    you are an artist, and you are trying to portray the image in the way you hope will illicit the greatest emotional response from the viewer….
    Did Da Vinci or Rembrandt portray life in all it's squalid detail or did they aspire to something more?
    I may be an atheist but I can yet aspire to capture aspects of what others define as 'Divinity'
    Any photographer who aspires to anything less is in my opinion no more than a spectator of what it is to be alive.

  20. Joseph Tiani says:

    Great video! I recently just shot a sunset using this technique thanks to the video. I don't believe it is cheating at all, no more than using a graduated filter. Someone did walk in part of my frame and I do agree that lightroom doesn't do a good job with the ghosting function.

  21. johan bauwens says:

    If you do bracketing and you use long exposures, every pic will be a little different as the clouds move. Then you get weird borders around the clouds. For me, it is either long exposure or hdr when I go out and photograph landscapes or buildings

  22. Ishu Pathangae says:

    Good one…

  23. Rory O'Connell says:

    Looking forward to exploring bracketing, I believe filters are just more gear to haul with you besides the expense.

  24. Fit BMX says:

    I have been editing my bracketed shot in Photoshop CC, I will have to try it in LR. I like CC, but it takes a little longer.
    Great video, thanks!

  25. The Caribbean Digger says:

    Absolutely not cheating. Never will a camera capture with one shot the dynamic range an eye can see. We are helping the camera capture it that's all ; ) Great video explaining how to.

  26. David Rapant says:

    Can you use bracketing to get that really silky smooth look to moving water or is that an instance where using filters is better? I like to see what I'm getting on the location and make adjustments to exposure time to get the image I'm looking for. Just wonder how that would work with bracketing. Good video! Thanks

  27. Bob Cyr says:

    Great technique!

  28. AngryBird kt says:

    My LR doesnt recognize RAW files CR2 from my Canon 5D m 4

  29. Behram Cooper says:

    You like HDR. I like HDR. Great minds think alike.

  30. d3v3ouzm1ndz says:

    Can't wait to try it!! It's not cheating!!!

  31. Keith Tomlinson - Continuous Focus says:

    Does the combines image that gets created come out as a raw file?

  32. sofia and john says:

    how to capture a green flash?

  33. ATEF KHELILI says:

    cheb khaled aicha

  34. Alan Smith says:

    In the day of 35mm SLR cameras, there was post processing. When you took the shot you bearded in mind what you where going to do. For example you could create shadows, change the colour temp, etc. Yes, I will say the more you can do at the taking of the photo saves time.

  35. yujin landscape photography. says:

    Next good one video! Thank!

  36. Harry Hawker says:

    This video is GREAT!! and very informative and easy to understand and for a useless photographer like me it may help!!! Digital photography is great fun with all the tricks and tools. I love learning about it and the tools my camera has and experimenting with all the options. I "PERSONALLY" watched another video where the photographer manipulated a photograph with "Photoshop" to end up with a radically different image. It was great to watch and he was a very clever and expert on his PC, the software was incredible and it was all very interesting. However, he did not take "THAT PHOTO" he took "A PHOTO" then processed it into something else!!! I challenge anyone to tell me that is "Photography" as we grew up knowing about it??  Brilliant though the tools are at processing an image that can then looks radically different from the original taken, is surely another talent??? Call it what you want!!!  However, "HE" did not take that photo! he took a "baseline image" then manipulated it into something different. Bracketing too, is very interesting it is very clever and I may (if I can afford the software) experiment with it to try get the images I FAILED to get in the original shot. However, we then get into the outrageous cost of the Adobe Software which many people simply cannot afford on top of everything else , but I guess that is another discussion!  I personally tend to think using filters is possibly much closer to actual "TRUE PHOTOGRAPHY" however others I am sure disagree. There is room for all, especially if you have got the money!!!  But for some people to try and take credit for a shot they actually did not take but achieved on a PC surely is NOT photography is we knew it??? I guess many of you disagree and that's fine too!!!

  37. Gary Clayton Photography says:

    Clearly explained thank you.

  38. Shane Stark says:

    I hope to try it sometime in the near future. I dont think its cheating, just another way to bring out what you saw at the time you took the photo.

  39. Tiago de Jesus Manifesto says:

    no RAW files?

  40. Adi Saputra says:

    Where take pokus

  41. John Malcolm says:

    Thanks for this video. I haven't tried bracketing yet but I'm going to give it a go after watching this.

  42. Tal Pistol says:

    Great video. straight to the point and very very clear. thank you!

  43. Shane Tierney says:

    Cheers Adam, you have cleared this up for me….will give it a go tomorrow 👍😀

  44. Todd Grivetti says:

    Totally no Cheating! I haven't used bracketing as much, and now willing to give a go!

  45. tigersunruss says:

    Second video I've watched of yours and you just got another subscriber. There is not cheating in art.

  46. ICACQ says:

    Very informative, thank you

  47. Luis Delgado says:

    Probably is not cheating. We are living in a different age and that goes with the new technology and that is a new technique. But, I will not call it photography.

  48. Rory O'Connell says:

    I believe I watched something similar on one of your diffent images, the difference is, now I'm going to give it a try. Good Job you done on the image.

  49. Etienne Courtens says:

    Enjoyed the video, Verry helpfull. Thanks Adam!

  50. huexley Yannick says:

    Very interesting ! Liked it !

  51. Dennis Donders says:

    Hello Adam. Nice and informative video, as usual !!!
    First of all: NO this is no cheating. This is creating the real view, which the device can not handle!

    I am going to the Dolomites soon and want to make a photo directly in the sun. (golden hour and sunset).
    Because I am only 1 day there, I do not have many opportunities and I doubt a few options ….

    1. Use bracketing like this video (if this is an option that you recommend, always -2 / 0 / + 2?)
    I think for golden hour its work perfect, but are at sunset, sunstars still possible with bracketing?

    Or other options like……

    2. Use graduated ND filters (honest: I do not have the best / most expensive)
    3. Exposure Blending (2 to 3 manual exposures on different parts of the photo and blend it into photoshop?)
    4. Use the Sony digital filter app

    Hopefully you can help me a bit and give refreshing insights.
    Keep it up

  52. Unbounded Pursuit says:

    I thought I could get away with not editing, because not only learning to use the camera and settings is a lot.. but editing is so much more learning and I don’t have a great lap top anymore.. I have light room for my phone and my Sony a6000 has WiFi capabilities.. but now I am going to use bracketing and try to learn to edit!

  53. shaun duke says:

    definitely going to try this, cheers

  54. ELTIN JONES says:

    Saves a lot of time rather than messing around with layers in PS. Also The HDR PS version is rubbish.
    I usually deselect auto tone – makes it more natural

  55. Attilio says:

    Hi! I tried to take three shots at 0, -1, +1, on bracketing in the city. However I noticed the ghosting effect in the merger shots. Is there any way to remove it or what do you suggest? I use also Darktable.

  56. Jake Satly says:

    Can you do this on Lightroom mobile app and if so how ???

  57. flameout12345 says:

    great video!

  58. Thelema says:

    You don't have to be in manual mode.

  59. crushbent says:

    Could one just turn on bracketing mode on our camera? Or is it better to do it the way you showed?

  60. The Astrophotographer Judah says:

    How would I use bracketing for a Nikon D70?

  61. Mike Kerry says:

    Definitely will try bracketing. Looking forward to capturing a good sunset. Thanks.

  62. WebFlyMoon says:

    Спасибо, очень познавательно

  63. Claude C says:

    Definitely not cheating.

  64. Greg Jaskiewicz says:

    Good stuff! Shame that the new Lightroom doesn’t have this feature, and I have to use the classic version

  65. Mike Martin says:

    Does the artist like the end result? Nothing else matters.

  66. Graham Madden says:

    You make everything seem so simple. As a beginner on the photographic trail I will be giving bracketing a go. Cheers.!

  67. robert myers says:

    Loved it mate,,, keep up the good work, thanks again, Bob

  68. nigeinblack1 says:

    Brilliant Adam very clearly explained thanks very much. Can’t wait to give it a go 👍🏻

  69. EnnJayy says:

    NICE ! wish i knew this early. For Nikon camera users try burst shot (cl or ch) much easier than timer :).

  70. Dániel Magyar says:

    I tried it today and it made the final image way better! I'll continue to do this. Thanks for the info!

  71. Philip Heuser says:

    I'm definitely going to try this out. This is cool, thanks!

  72. Dave Lefever says:

    I always think that the issue of whether processing images is cheating is totally spurious. Photography is an art form, it's not about photo-realism. You should produce the image that you want to create and leave it to the viewer to decide whether they like it or not.

  73. Damon Singh says:

    At the end of the day, it matters if you captured the moment and its mood as you intended to, as an artist. The means toget there e.g. Bracketing, filters etc dont really matter. Its not cheating 🙂

  74. Paras Paner says:

    Greatly explained

  75. Melissa Hall says:

    Very well explained.

  76. Thomas Wilcox says:

    Wanted this for a shot today and completely blanked on how to do it. Remembering that damn 'q' button. Thanks for the awesome content, knew you'd have the answer.

  77. harrycallaghan22 says:

    Great shot and clear tutorial. 👍🏼 I use a 3 stop graduated filter from Lee with my 5d mk4 but I also take a mirror less if I’m out on a walk with the family and don’t want to carry all my kit so I’ll try this method out when a filter is unavailable.

  78. Paul Tyzack says:

    I really don’t like this continual use of the word “cheating”. Photography is an art and the final image however it is produced is the result of care and attention lavished upon it by the photographer (artist). The puritanical few who only believe a photograph is that which comes immediately from the camera will hate that, but the picture no matter how it looks would simply not exist if the photographer sat on his arse all day not venturing out…… all photos are worthy no matter how they were produced……

  79. Aarun Chauhan says:

    Simple , helpful video

  80. chris chapman says:

    Nice video…easy to follow….I recently took a sunset shot using 3 bracketed images, upon editing I realized it would have benefited from focus stacking also. I can't seem to figure out the best practice for exposure bracketing and focus stacking on the same image. Whats the best in camera process then how do you handle processing….please help…Google was no use…Thanks

  81. 1337Jogi says:

    I also think that it is not cheating.
    Our eyes can adapt very well to different lighting and high contrast under normal conditions. They have a much higher effective dynamic range compared to a camera.
    The difference here is that while you have a wide field of view your eye focuses on a pretty small area of your vision and adapts together with your brain to this area.
    This means that you can look into the shadows, see detail and look into the highlights and see detail too. The eye adjuts itself when switching the view. The camera on the other hand has to capture the whole scene at once since the viewer of the picture will decide later wher he wants to focus. It can just not do that. It would be like looking with your eye into the dark and the bright part of the secene at the same time.

    Trying to reproduce what you really saw is not cheating but removing technical limitations.

  82. Fu Fu Mc Cuddly Poops says:

    7:11 talks about not over editing you photo then slides saturation to 90

  83. Outlinedish says:

    Thank you!! I’ve been in a photo class for a year and I finally understand this

  84. Anders B says:

    If you set bracketing in manual mode and switch back to P on a Canon it should retain the bracketing settings (7D)

  85. maximiliano basulto says:

    Hi! how did people do 30 years ago ( or maybe 20 ) when Lightroom didn’t exist??

  86. Jumpeex says:

    Will it works on long exposures ?

  87. p0rt0b0y says:

    I feel like bracketing isn't necessary with today's cameras and the amount dynamic range they offer. I just expose for highlights and bring the shadows up and get more than anough shadow detail. Just my opinion.

  88. robert myers says:

    Excellent mate, well done, thanks again, Bob

  89. Calebe Teles says:

    I tried this, but after some testing, I just saw that when you bracket and get them together, lightroom just balance everything back (looks like totally exact) to the middle image of the bracketing.
    Also, by playing with the the exposure, it's the same latitude of the middle one.
    I'm not complaining about your vídeo, but it just looks like lightroom HDR tool is not doing anything at all.
    Still looking for a way to get really more DR on my images.

  90. Dave Dyck says:

    Thanks for posting, being new to the whole photo thing, I am interested in any help I can get.Can this process be used with success with general landscape pictures? Cn you explain, what do you mean by " cheating" ?

  91. Alistair Reese says:

    Bracketing has been around for many years, long before digital and Lightroom came on the scene.

  92. Hrishabh Bairagi says:


  93. lawr0 says:

    Watching this while waiting for nisi filter kit to be delivered… feels bad man 🤦🏻‍♂️

  94. Gamer Nick says:

    Man, the 'is it cheating' discussion bugs the hell out of me, as though many of the techniques that we use in lightroom and photoshop did not exist in the uhh… lightroom? lol Years of watching my grandad apply techniques like dodging and burning gave me the urge to experiment with photography. If you want to be a purist and only take that perfectly planned and lifetime waited for photo with years of experience and perfectly correct equipment, that's great but most of the time photography is an expressive art and we want to share an experience through our own eyes or sensations.

  95. DIESEL WEASEL says:

    Photo at 0.02 is that Rosebery Topping?

  96. Jay Chun says:

    too much returch is cheating and calls PSgrapher.

  97. Chocolate Coffee says:

    It's creative, not cheating.

  98. james beswick says:

    when using in camera bracketing is it possible to use photo stacking to get clear image front to back, , I know maybe it could be up 9-15 images…at post processing in LR/PS. .. maybe a bit off a dum question I know…. but does it work?
    kind regards

  99. wildfisher says:

    A great example of a no waffle, no padding informative video. Good stuff.

  100. andras levente says:

    When using AEB how is recomended to shoot:raw or jpeg ?
    //edit:only raw,at least in darktable.

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