Creative Photography Page 2: Multiple Exposure

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My first installment talked about drive by shootings, slower shutter speed images taken out of a moving car ( like texting, this is not something you should do while driving).

We will be exploring the various methods of using multiple exposure over the next several installments. Today we will begin with a simple 2 exposure multiple exposure. Now, multiple exposure techniques are not new. We could do them in the film days, you just had to plan for the exposure and compensate to build a properly exposed multiple exposure image. Basically, the shutter could be opened multiple times without advancing the film. Then with digital, we lost this ability for the first several generations of digital cameras. Nikon was the first to come out with multiple exposure imaging (D2 Series) in a digital camera ( my Canon friends who used this technique with film were very jealous, but now Canon has jumped on the multi exposure bandwagon and offers it on some of their cameras). And with the ability built into a digital camera, much of the thinking about exposure compensation could now be done by the computer in the camera instead of the computer between your ears.

The first multiple exposure technique that many of us learned is using one well focus image for one exposure and one out of focus image for the second exposure. First, use a smaller aperture (f11-f16) and focus on your subject ( after setting ME to 2 exposures and leaving Auto Gain on). Take this image. Now open your aperture to maximum (f2.8. F4 or whatever the maximum for your lens). De focus the image focus completely behind or completely in front of your image. Now take the second image. The camera will now combine both images, at the correct exposure, in camera for an in camera RAW image. On advantage of this method is that it is a camera created image as opposed to taking 2 images and creating a similar look in image editing software.. So what’s the difference, you ask? Well, you can see the results and modify them as you shoot, the other is that in camera is not “digital manipulation” from the perspective of editors or photo contests.. Somewhat silly, because the end result is the same, just the methods are different..

These images progress from the first sharp image, to a multiple exposure defocused in front a lot to a multiple exposure defocused less in front. That’s the advantage of digital, you play until you like the results.

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One 2 image multiple exposure technique is used in this image of sunset at Joshua Tree NP. This is a bit more complicated ( and time consuming) than shooting 2 exposures back to back. First, you have to make Auto Meter Off Delay is set to infinity, so the meter won’t shut off and end your multiple exposure. The other setting is to turn the Auto Gain off, because with dark or black background or silhouettes, the camera will adjust the exposure incorrectly for what your are trying to do.

Now, with the camera ready to go, I set up my composition with the Joshua trees silhouetted against the sky and waited for the sunset color I wanted, then took my first exposure. Then I waited until all color was out of the sky from sunset (I waited at least an hour for black night sky) and then took my second exposure ( was several minutes) while I light painted the Joshua trees with flashlight with colored gels. After the second image was recorded, the camera combined the 2 exposures into 1 image.

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You can see that this opens up a whole new avenue of creativity for use with the digital camera. We will explore more multiple exposure techniques in the next several Creativity installments.. Also, keep checking the Workshops Area as I will have workshops for this Fall 2013 and workshops for 2014 posted soon..

2 Responses to “Creative Photography Page 2: Multiple Exposure”

  1. I enjoy your blog Bill, but I especially love this technique.

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