Bracketing is back in fashion with the emergence of HDR photography. HDR is becoming popular as not only it enhances the quality of images, but also because most mid-range DSLR cameras comes with features that allow photographers to use the bracketing to shoot HDR images.
As I said, today, most mid-range DSLR cameras from Canon and Nikon come with auto exposure bracketing (AEB) capabilities. However in order to reserve some features for the high range cameras the bracketing on mid-range cameras is restricted to 3 shots at max. While 3 shots totally fine for a decent HDR, you may need 5, 7 or 9 shots for getting different effects. I will heavily recommend reading this article if you are planning to work on HDR.
So, the question arises, how to get more than 3 shots for my Nikon D7000 camera. There are many ways to achieve this. You can manually change the settings and take 5 or more such shots but you will need to 'touch' the camera to manually move the dial to the desired settings which will change the frame.
Another solution is to buy remotes such as Promote Control which extends the features of your camera. But these remotes are expensive and may cost you around $300+.
There is a very simple and cheaper solution if you already have an Android device (tablet or smartphone). There is a very powerful Android app - Helicon Remote - which brings all the missing features to your DSLR camera. You just need to spend around $35 and you will have additional features on your DSLR, most notably it will extend the bracketing to up to 15 shots ). I have been working on HDR for a while this app is the best solution I ever found for my Nikon D7000. In this article I will explain how to get up to 15 (though you don't need more than 9) bracketed shots from your Nikon D7000 or other supported cameras which natively don't support higher bracketed shots.
This articles deals with only shooting HDR images and not post-processing. There are many open source and proprietary applications, such as Luminace HDR and Photomatrix Pro, which you can use to process your bracketed shots.
What You Need
1. OTG (On the Go cable) for your device. Most Android devices use micro USB cable so you can purchase one from Amazon or your local store.
2. Helicon Remote for Android app.
3. USB cable for your camera.
4. Good location to shoot HDR.
Once you the needed hardware, download and install the free Helicon Remote app from Google Play Store. The app turns your Android device into a DSLR controller. However, the ability to shoot and save in RAW is available for a fee. You can easily buy a license for $30 from this page.
Let's Get Started
Connect your DSLR to your Android device using the appropriate cables and then turn your camera on. You will get a notification on your device to access the camera using the Helicon app. Click on the Live View to see what your camera sees.
Before you start shooting the first thing you need to do is ensure that you are shooting in RAW or desired format. You can access these settings from the "Exposure" tab. Note: In the free version you can only shoot JPEG.
In this tab you can also set ISO speed, ev, shutter speed, white balance and aperture for the shoot. You can make appropriate changes based on the lighting conditions and the object right from the Android device without touching the camera.
Once all these settings are taken care of click on the Tools tab and choose how many shots you want to take per image (you can take up to 15 shots, but I heavily recommend this article to learn why and when you need 5,7 or 9 exposures).
The app gives you two options to set the exposure for bracketed shots -- manually and automated. You can access these settings from the same page.
The beauty of this app is under manual settings you can play with ISO, aperture and exposure of the each bracketed shot (image above). Or, you can simply choose the steps for each shots from the automated settings. You can always hit the 'Info' icon to see the bracketing settings.
Now, once everything is set, just hit the 'take shot' button and your camera will capture the desire number of shots for your HDR image.
Here is the bracketed images and the final HDR image that I took using this app.
You can find other such HDR images on my Google+ Page. Write to me if you have any questions about HDR shooting with this app.