Stacking Your Bracketed Shots

Many digital cameras have a feature known as Auto-Bracketing. This allows you to set the camera to take multiple exposures with a single press of the shutter release. By choosing a certain over and under exposure range you can increase your chances of nailing that perfect shot. If you are shooting for HDR, setting your auto-bracket at -2 and +2 stops can make quick work of getting the exposures you need for that HDR masterpiece!

Because the camera is taking several shots in rapid succession the time difference between the shots is minimal. This can work to your advantage organizing these images in Lightroom. Lightroom's stacking feature is great for keeping your shots organized and minimizing the clutter in grid view. Auto-bracketing is a perfect situation for stacking. It would be great if all your auto-bracketed shots were stacked together for each composition. You can do this by hand but if you've had a long shoot with hundreds of bracketed images this can take some time. Fear not! Lightroom's auto-stacking capabilities will ease your stacking pain!


The key to Auto-Stacking lies in the time stamp for each image. Auto-bracketed images will have a time stamp that is within one or two seconds of each other. On higher end cameras, the time difference may be so low that the bracketed sequence has the same time stamp in Lightroom. You will notice a bigger time difference between bracketed sets of images since it will take you more than a second to compose the next sequence.

To stack your sequences start in the Library module. Select the Photo menu and choose Stacking.


Form the sub-menu choose Auto-Stack by Capture Time.


Now you will be presented with a dialog allowing you to choose the time differential between shots.

Auto-Stack by Capture Time-1.jpg

With the slider all the way to the left none of the images are stacked because this tells Lightroom to stack all images that have zero seconds between shots. All shots have some time difference.

Auto-Stack by Capture Time-2.jpg

But if we increase this to 2 seconds by sliding to the right we go from 0 stacks to 153 stacks. This sounds about right so I'll click on the Stack button.


Now all of my bracketed shots are stacked together! To further unclutter my grid view I can choose Collapse all Stacks from the Stacking sub-menu.


Now all my stacks are collapsed and I can see one representative shot for each bracketed sequence!