So what if you are doing everything right in terms of metering and mode selection, yet your images still sometimes come out too light or too dark? There is a technique called bracketing that will help you find the best exposure value for your scene by taking a normal exposure as well as one that is over- and underexposed. Having these differing exposure values will most often present you with one frame that just looks better than the others. If I am in a tricky situation when I have to get the exposure right, such as an outdoor wedding, then I’ll use bracketing. I’ll start by spacing my exposures apart by one to two stops and taking three images: one normal exposure, one underexposure, and one overexposure. (Figure 11.7).
As you are viewing the control panel and holding the exposure button, you can decide how much variation you want between bracketed exposures. You can choose from one-third of a stop all the way to two full stops of exposure difference between each bracketed exposure. If I am in a particularly difficult setting, I will typically bracket in two-stop increments to help zero in on that perfect exposure, and then just delete the ones that didn’t make the grade (Figures 11.8–11.10). Remember, your lighting will dictate how many stops you want between exposures.
Setting auto-exposure bracketing
You can quickly set your bracketing by holding the BKT button (on the front of your camera directly below the flash button) while rotating the Command dial to 3F (three exposures).
Next, continue holding your BKT button down while rotating your Sub-command dial to the 2.0 setting (two stops between each exposure). For more information on bracketing, please review pages 109–110 of your manual.
If you are in Single Frame shooting mode, you will have to press the shutter three times, one for each exposure. If you are in continuous shooting mode, you will press and hold the shutter button and the camera will take all three exposures with one press of the button.
When I am out shooting in the RAW file format, I typically shoot with my camera set to an exposure compensation of –1/3 stop to protect my highlights. If I am dealing with a subject that has a lot of different tonal ranges from bright to dark, I will often bracket by one stop over and under my already compensated exposure. That means I will have exposures of –1 1/3, –1/3, and +2/3.
Another thing to remember is that auto exposure bracketing will use the current mode for making exposure changes. This means that if you are in Aperture Priority mode, the camera will make adjustments to your shutter speed. Likewise, if you are in Shutter Priority, the changes will be made to your aperture value. This is important to keep in mind since it could affect certain aspects of your image such as depth of field or camera shake. You also need to know that AE bracketing will remain in effect until you set it back to zero, even if you turn the camera off and then on again.
Getting great focus is one thing, but capturing the best moment on the sensor can be difficult if you are shooting just one frame at a time. In the world of sports, and in life in general, things move pretty fast. If you blink, you might miss it. The same can be said for shooting in Single Frame mode. Fortunately, your D7000 comes equipped with a Continuous High (CH) shooting—or “burst”—mode that lets you capture a series of images at up to six frames a second. You can also select Continuous Low (CL), which allows the user to customize the desired frames per second by using the Custom Settings (Figure 5.8).
Setting up and shooting in continuous shooting mode
Press the Mode dial lock at the top left corner of your camera (A).
While pressing the dial lock release, simply turn the Release Mode dial to either CL or CH. CH will provide up to six frames per second and CL will provide one to five frames per second, based upon the user’s preference. To set up CL, go to D6 in your Custom Settings menu. (For more on this, refer to page 217 of your user manual.)
Your camera has an internal memory, called a “buffer,” where images are stored while they are being processed prior to being moved to your memory card. Depending on the image format you are using, the buffer might fill up, and the camera will stop shooting until space is made in the buffer for new images. The camera readout in the viewfinder tells you how many frames you have available in burst mode. Just look in the viewfinder at the bottom right to see the maximum number of images for burst shooting. As you shoot, the number will go down and then back up as the images are written to the memory card.
While I use the automatic focus modes for the majority of my shooting, there are times when I like to fall back on manual focus. This is usually when I know when and where the action will occur and I want to capture the subject as it crosses a certain plane of focus. This is useful in sports like motocross or auto racing, where the subjects are on a defined track and I know exactly where I want to capture the action. I could try tracking the subject, but sometimes the view can be obscured by a curve. By prefocusing the camera, all I have to do is wait for the subject to approach my point of focus (Figure 5.6) and then start firing the camera.
It is also a good idea to decide how much of the environment you want to show in your image. With these twins riding the tandem bicycle, I wanted to show the oldfashioned buildings in the background to give a sense of Mackinac Island. I could have cropped in tighter, but I would have lost the essential background information (Figure 5.7).
The drive mode determines how fast your camera will take pictures. Single Frame is for taking one photograph at a time. With every full press of the shutter release button, the camera will take a single image. The continuous modes allow for a more rapid capture rate. Think of it like a machine gun. When you are using one of the continuous modes, the camera will continue to take pictures as long as the shutter release button is held down.