Most of JLC's authors take their own photos. I'm hoping to share tips on how to make those photos more engaging and more informative. This week it's a technique called zoom bracketing (see slideshow). "Bracketing "in photography is taking a series of the same picture, but changing some aspect of the photo such as exposure, or in this case, the zoom angle of the lens as you progress through the series. With zoom bracketing the first image is zoomed all the way back at a wide angle. The second image is zoomed in about half way for composition, and the third image is zoomed all the way in. In the first series, the wide angle shot shows the whole door jamb assembly, along with the saw and bench. The next shot is composed to show both the ends of jamb, but closer to the action of sawing. The third shot is zoomed in to really focus on the action of sawing. Each of these photos conveys slightly different information. If I want the photo to illustrate how the jamb is held on the bench, I choose #1, but if I want the photo to be more about slicing the leg of the jamb to length, I choose #2 or #3. Notice how the caption changes with each bracket.

In the second set, the zoomed in shot is all about the screw being used in the hinge. The middle shot shows the whole drill-driver so it becomes more about the action of driving the screw. The zoomed back shot captures just the side of the carpenter's face, which adds a human element to the shot while still being about the action of driving the screw.

So why not just crop? Cropping is OK in a pinch, but each time you crop in on a photo, you lose resolution, meaning that the photo is less crisp and shows less detail.  So whenever you can, take three photos at different zooms of the same composition. Get used to changing from horizontal to vertical orientation if need be, and change the composition to include part of a face or a detail that adds more information to the photo.