What is bracketing?
According to 'Bracketing' on Wikipedia,
In photography, bracketing is the general technique of taking several
shots of the same subject using different camera settings. Bracketing
is useful and often recommended in situations that make it difficult
to obtain a satisfactory image with a single shot, especially when a
small variation in exposure parameters has a comparatively large
effect on the resulting image.
Autobracketing is automatic bracketing
by using a setting on the camera to take several bracketed shots (in
contrast to the photographer altering the settings by hand between
each shot). Given the time it takes to accomplish multiple shots, it
is typically, but not always, used for static subjects.
There are 6 main kinds of bracketing:
- Exposure Bracketing
- Flash Bracketing
- Depth of Field Bracketing
- Focus Bracketing
- White Balance Bracketing
- ISO Bracketing
When the general term 'bracketing' is used, however, it usually refers to Exposure Bracketing.
What is it for?
The reasoning behind this is to be certain that you have taken the perfect shot; for example, when Exposure Bracketing, you will take three or more photos. At least one photo will be underexposed, at least one overexposed and one will be perfect.
Also: Exposure Fusion
Exposure Fusion is the process of fusing together three or more photos at different exposures. This is a kind of HDR, despite what Mark Evans says in his otherwise good DPS article also linked below (more info - Comparison of HDR effects).
Photo with exposure fusion
Learn more: Digital Photography School