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HDR Bracketing with the D90

Rod Wilkinson Rod Wilkinson 36 posts

I have been playing around with High Dynamic Range, and although some photographers don’t like the effect, I personally love it.

Have just received a “D90” as a Christmas present and needed to set it up to fire a bracket of 3 shots 2 stops apart. I found the following on another website :-

Many people (especially HDR folks) have commented that they would like an auto-bracketing feature where the camera takes the bracketing sequence with only one press of the shutter release button. This allows you to avoid camera shake caused by pressing the shutter release between each exposure.

I have discovered a way to make the camera do this:

1. Press the BKT button and set the bracketing to 3F by rotating the main command dial. Using the sub-command dial set the exposure increment to whatever you like. I prefer 1 stop intervals.

2.Go to CSM c3 Self-timer. Set the delay time, 5 seconds should be enough to allow the camera and tripod to stabilize. Next, set the number of shots to 3.

3. This step is optional. Go to CSM d6 and set the Continuous Low shooting speed to 4 fps.

4. Press the Release mode button and rotate the main command dial until the self-timer icon appears with the Continuous Low shooting icon above it.

5. Press the shutter release button. After the self-timer delay the camera will perform auto-bracketing with one push of the shutter release button.

Hope this is helpful ?

jon  daly jon daly 33 posts

very helpful thanks
but my cs2 just brightens the shot and ignores any subtlety so i have to use clone stamp across all the images.
is this a common problem or just me?

Rod Wilkinson Rod Wilkinson 36 posts

Hi Jon,
Not sure what you mean? Are you shooting RAW or JPEG ?
I use JPEGs, as I have only just received the D90 and have yet to discover RAW images.

I use an excellent program called “Photomatix” to combine the three bracketed images into a single HDR image, which is then tone mapped.

Rod Wilkinson Rod Wilkinson 36 posts

Hi Jon,
Not sure what you mean? Are you shooting RAW or JPEG ?
I use JPEGs, as I have only just received the D90 and have yet to discover RAW images.

I use an excellent program called “Photomatix” to combine the three bracketed images into a single HDR image, which is then tone mapped.

Joel Hall Joel Hall 54 posts

Wish there was a way to have the BKT mode take more than just 3 shots, like the d300 does :(

solo75 solo75 21 posts

why would you want more than three? I sometimes use 2 shots; l normal and the other 2 stops under….I like the contrast in 2 shots compared to three although the third shot will bring out the highlight details more. I’ve plugged in 4 shots in Photomatix and didn’t like the results.

lighthouse lighthouse 789 posts

Some of the best HDR shots I have seen are taken by a bloke who uses up to 23 brackets then picks the ones he wants to use. He uses between 9 and 16 I think

Ecto1 Ecto1 24 posts

I love HDR. I set my D90 BKT 3 at 2.0 increment, then use Photomatix pro to put it all together. Here’s one of mine

I shoot everything in raw, which I then develop in lightroom.

Leigh Nelson Leigh Nelson 11 posts

OR…buy the Nikon remote control (ML-L3, $35 AUD) and control when you take the shots while you sit in a comfy chair with a beer in your hand without touching the camera at all. You can even control the time between each shot in the bracket sequence to acheive certain results. Example

Lenny La Rue, IPA Lenny La Rue, IPA 71 posts

I haven’t found a love of HDR as I see it as more of a creative art technique than photography, which I see as capturing an image. And as Rod pointed out, the D90 brackets very well indeed.

Like LeighN, I use the remote controls for both the D90 and D80 with nice results. But a firm tripod with gentle use of the control wheels should make taking scores of precise shots fairly easy while maintaining the concept that the photographer is taking the shots, not just the camera. If triggering the shutter once each to get 30 different exposures isn’t easy enough with a tripod and care, opening any editing program with just a single shot can clone 29 more images that can each be tweaked more carefully and extensively than any camera can shoot – with any amount of bracketing.

Rod Wilkinson Rod Wilkinson 36 posts

I usually take 3 exposures when shooting HDR and have my D90 set up to take a bracket of 3 shots 1 stop apart with one shutter press.

Recently I found an article that explained how to capture 9 exposures 1 stop apart, with just 3 shutter releases, as follows :-

Press the shutter button to take your 1st shot – this will result in 3 captures at +1EV, 0EV,and -1EV

Change exposure compensation to +3EV via the Exp.Compensation button. This is where you need to take care not to move the camera. A good steady tripod helps.

Press the shutter to take another 3 shot burst – this will result in 3 captures at +4EV, +3EV and +2 EV

Change exposure compensation to -3EV via the Exp.Compensation button. Again being careful not to move the camera.

Press the shutter to take another 3 shot burst – this will result in 3 captures at -4EV, -3EV and -2 EV

This now gives you 9 shots 1stop apart.

+4 +3 +2 +1 0 -1 -2 -3 -4 EV Captures

It’s best to work quickly when changing EV’s to minimize movements in the image like clouds, shadows, changing ambient light levels, etc.

Aaron Siebens Aaron Siebens 2 posts

I just recently have gotten the new photoshop CS5 and it allows you to change your exposure in the program. You cn do 5 different exposures from one raw image. This virtually eliminates the problems associated with multiply bracketed exposure i.e. movement ghosting and movement of the camera and alignment of each image. I have had some pretty fair results with this technique. I know this i the d90 forum but I have a D5000 and it sounds like our cameras bracket the same way. Just a little for your info knowledge how I have figured out to make any capture i have into a HDR image. It also makes it possible to create HDR’s from a single hand held photo which is my favorite part of it.

kaitech kaitech 1 post

I followed your initial instructions and while it works, for some reason the -2 f stop exposure is always slightly shifted in position (vertically) from the normal and the 2 f stop over exposure. Yes, even with a tripod or on a table…solidly stabilized. What could be going on here? I have a D90 with the 18-200 DX Nikkor lens and have tried this with shutter priority and Program mode…I always get the same result??? I would expect all three images to be solidly in alignment with one another. On other question what software is available for OS X to combine images?

nash1979 nash1979 1 post

Hi kaitech, I am new to HDR photography so I might be wrong about this… I think that you need to be in aperture priority in order for the pictures to line up better. I have read that the differences in depth of field can distort images just enough that they do not line up. Again, I could be completely off base here. I am new to HDR and new to the D90. I joined this forum to learn some things myself. Good luck! :)

audreyg audreyg 1 post

hi i have been trying bracketing on my D90 and I could not find the setting that gives me 3 exposures in just 1 shot. does it exist?? i tried to shoot a slow moving subject, so 3 consecutive shots are not good for me!

jtoogood jtoogood 1 post

Aaron Siebens…. it’s possible to get different exposures from one RAW photo, but the quality of the shots (and resulting HDR image) wont be as good as if you take them separately. What you’re taking about is referred to as pseudo-HDR. Generally they don’t turn out as well as with the usual process, but can still turn out really nice. Pseudo-HDR works well with action photography where stuff is moving.

kaitech… make sure your lens’ vibration reduction (VR) feature is turned off when using a tripod. This will stop the vertical shift. Also set to Aperture priority (generally around f/8 to get the sharpest picture – depending on the lens/lighting).

I generally use three exposure bracketing (-2 0 +2), but you can get much better HDR photos when using 5 or more exposures (-2 -1 0 +1 +2), especially when there is a dramatic contrast from light to dark, such as shooting sunrises etc. The D90 (and new D7000) only offers 3 exposure bracketing. You have to use the exposure compensation setting on your camera to get additional exposures (as mentioned above). This is a real hassle since you have to then touch the camera (which will unfortunately move the camera a little).

You can get 5 exposures by setting the bracketing up to 3 exposure with 2stop increments (-2 0 +2), then setting either a -1 (or +1) exposure compensation and shooting again. This will give you the in-between -1 and +1 exposures (plus one more left over that you can disregard). Hope this helps!

audreyg… there is no such thing. Bracketing creates more than one shot, thats the whole point. For moving objects you’re best to use one RAW image and create different exposures from that, or mask one exposure back into the photo with photoshop after tone mapping.

Lenny La Rue, IPA Lenny La Rue, IPA 71 posts

Just a tiny addition to the discussion. The OLOneo program is out of beta testing and you can use it for free for a 30-day trial period. If you’re unsure about the HDR process, this program will let you choose presets, make presets, undo/redo steps, show you all the nuances of each preset so you begin to understand the terms just by seeing the results, and much more. The biggest benefit in my opinion is the instant feedback: you try something and it looks cool but add something and it looks killer-cool. You can tell in realtime by no more than mousing over the history states. You can even put a “bookmark” where you liked things once but wanted to see if something else would be better – complete with a section to write notes about the bookmark!

OLOneo photoEngine is the ideal program for people who would like to begin HDR in a ‘hands on’ way. It can make the most subtle changes as easily as creating the most grungy blown-out effects. It works with a single image or any number of others. What it does for lighting of interior decorating is stunning.

Give it a whirl since it’s free to try and at least 100% easier than Photomatix and 100% more professional than Picturenaut. :-D

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