How do YOU bracket? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I want how YOU bracket exposures of nature, still life, interiors and architecture. Please no "You should know how to meter." I do know how to meter. However studio and interiors photographs bracket a lot. What exposures do you do? One stop over, normal and one stop under? How do you develop your film. One set of shots first than the second set? What are you looking for specifically in the first set? What do you normal do with the next set? Do you use Poloroid or metering to determine exposure? Give me all the details.

-- David Payumo (, September 09, 2000


It depends. I may bracket 1/2, 1, &/or 1 1/2 under &/or over.

Or more likely, several identical exposures marked for different development. But if the most likely exposure/development combination works (as viewed after printing) I probably would discard the others undeveloped. Sometimes I make several identical exposures it is windy or dusty or whatever. But that is not what you asked.

-- John Hennessy (, September 09, 2000.

With black-and-white negative film, I normally bracket one extra stop of additional light. In addition to guarding against under-exposure, the extra exposure is also insurance against dust or scratches. I figure film is cheap, so even if extra exposures only rarely save the image, they are still worth it. I develop the first exposure first, then decide how to do the extra. If you know how to meter, the probability of losing an image because the negative is over-exposed is very low, so there is normally no point in bracketing in the under-exposure direction. If conditions are bad or something is varying in the scence (e.g., clouds that are part of the composition, a flag blowing in the wind), I might do extra exposures.

-- Michael Briggs (, September 09, 2000.

David: I usually make at least two negs on every scene. I usually meter one carefully, and make another with one stop more exposure. Many times I want more shadow detail than even careful metering gives me, and the one stop more exposure will give it to me most of the time. Also, if the metered exposure is fine, I have a spare negative that I can print through the extra density if I need to. I don't feel the need to go through the one under, one metered, and one over routine. That is with black and white film. With transparency film, which I shoot very little of, I might make an extra neg with one stop underexposure from the meter reading. Sometimes the underexposed neg can look better. This is just one man's way of working and might not be best for you.

Regards, Doug.

-- Doug Paramore (, September 09, 2000.

In general, I won't actually bracket. What I will do, however, is to shoot one sheet of film with what I determine to be the correct exposure, and then shoot the film on the other side of the holder with either the same or an equivalent exposure. For example, if I'm shooting a waterfall at 1/2 sec. @ f/32, I might shoot the other sheet at 1 sec @ f/45 just in case I like the effect of one exposure more than the other. I also do this as a matter of security- I'm paranoid about losing a shot due to a screwed up negative, so I always like to make a spare. Even in the rare instance that I'm shooting velvia, I hardly bracket. I guess I've just become comfortable enough with my metering system and zone system practices that I don't really worry about screwing up exposure all that much.

As for my actual system of determining exposure, here's the general idea. Often what I'll do is do the standard zone evaluation thing with my spot meter, and then take an incident reading. Generally, I'll end up with either the same exposure or something that isn't the same but still makes sense (am I making sense?). Anyways, when I've determined the "correct" exposure and when I've factored in reciprocity, filters, and things of that ilk, I'll make my two exposures, accomodating any changes in lighting with the second sheet if needs be. Well hey, it makes sense to me. Hopefully it'll make sense to you.

Just a thought...

-- Dave Munson (, September 09, 2000.

Hi David, well I only use B&W, and so maybe this doesn't apply. You didn't say if you only interested in color. My bracketing is a rat's nest of subjective attitudes and actions. I most generally point my spot meter around at what I consider to be the "subject" or whatever attracts my attention out there. Then I kind of stand back and see if I can get a feeling for the contrast range. I think I then look at the shadows and highligths and see if they are important to me; if not I might let them fall of the ends. When I figure out what I'll get with my five stops of printable neg, I pick out most important part of the scene and determine just what zone I want it to fall in. And that's the standard shot for the film and chem I've been using. Often, I might think the scene has more contrast and I want to pull it together, and so I will way over expose and then use weak developer and develop by inspection until I think its right. This seems to have yielded satisfactory results. Sometimes, often in the desert, I think, contrast is too flat here, and so the bracketing is not only done with exposure times, but I'll use different filters on a couple of shots; sometimes I've had to stack up say a yellow and a polarisor, often when direct sun off a stream or river is included. Again, going in, I know I will be exposing different, and so I might cut the developer a little and wait a little longer time, periodically inspecting for the right look. And that is my totally scientific-subjective method of "bracketing a shot."

So, for the most part, there are always two shots. The first one, I seem to calculate for a conservative reliable negative just so I bring home something; the second, here I try and pull out all creative stops and kind of stretch the evelope of what I think can be done with the scene so I get good contrast and the subject in the zone I want. Many times, not always, the later over or under exposure with modified development and perhaps different combinations of filters - it often pays off. Once, following the above method, I made all the changes for the "technically advanced" bracketed shot, and as I was just ready to make the negative a red winged black bird landed on a fence post right in front of me for the only "animal" shots I ever got. Cheers, David

-- david clark (, September 09, 2000.

With Velvia, I used to bracket += 1/2 stop. Now that I am shooting ProviaF, I meter the scene, as ISO 100, to the best of my ability and shoot the A shot. Then I expose a B shot at -1/2 stop. I have A processed normally. I can then process B anywhere from -1/2 stop pull to +2 stops push. This also assures that I have a backup sheet that doesn't go to the lab at the same time as the primary sheet.

-- Glenn C. Kroeger (, September 10, 2000.

David I only shoot b/w 120 and 4x5 using Ilford Delta 100 which I rate at ISO 80 and Polaroid Type 55 which I expose for the negative which I rate at ISO 25. I always take two shots mainly as a safeguard against "sod's law". The only time I usually bracket is when I make long time exposures of several seconds to minutes this is because it's difficult to calculate reciprocity failure, on these occasions I'll double or even triple the second exposure. I use a Pentax V spotmeter to which I've attached a zone scale and I place important shadow details on zone 3, I then see where the high values fall and if they are beyond zone 8 I cut back on the film development time accordingly to keep the important highlights from losing detail or tone. Where the shot is of particular importance and perhaps taken under difficult conditions(extreme contrast) using 4x5 I develop just the one sheet and then make the necessary adjustments if any when procesing the second one. With the best will in the world and whatever method one uses "screw-ups" occur. When these happen and if at all possible I try to salvage the image at the printing stage by using "split-grade" techniques. Regards,

-- Trevor Crone (, September 10, 2000.

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