Category Archives: Multiple Exposure

Time Stacked Waves

I am just back from a 2 week recharge in St Lucia and used the break to experiment with wave time stacks. If you follow The Photo Impressionism Project  you will be familiar with Matt Molloy’s fabulous cloud time stacks. Basically the technique relies on a time lapse series that is then brought together using  Photoshop’s lighten mode opacity blend to create a sense of movement.

Waves breaking on the beach at Body Holiday in St Lucia. A 10 image time stack. © Stephen D'Agostino
Waves breaking on the beach at Body Holiday in St Lucia. A 10 image time stack. © Stephen D’Agostino

I have adapted Molly’s technique to faster moving subjects using high speed shutter bursts. In this case 10 images of a breaking wave shot at 60 fps using Nikon’s N1 V3. The image then has to be colour balanced using the usual tools. I tend to rely on the white\black point method and NIK’s contrast filter.

I really like the feeling of the curl here and the pallet knife textures produced by the time stack. If I had just used an opacity blend the image would have been pleasing but much softer.

If I can brag, Flickr featured this image on Explore this morning; 2,700 views in the past 8 hours. You can see the Flickr version here https://www.flickr.com/photos/photo-impressionism/15997036038/.

Multiple Exposure Photo Impressionism Technique

I often forget how important it is to look back at your portfolio to see where you have been.  I was reminded of that while rounding out my website with a new multiple exposure gallery.  Photography is so focussed on the moment that it is easy to miss the lessons of time.

Caribana - Toronto © Stephen D'Agostino
Caribana – Toronto © Stephen D’Agostino

What have I learned?

Gallery of light - Paris © Stephen D'Agostino
Gallery of light – Paris © Stephen D’Agostino

The first observation is how easy it is to get into a rut. Lately I seem to be focussed on in the round images. The result of that effort has been some great images but  I have lost some of the spontaneity I liked in my earlier work. This is going to be a long term struggle; spontaneity vs pre-visualization.

Second, I seem to have a better understanding of the genre now. Impressionism requires a fine balance between the representational and the abstract to successfully create movement. The mind needs a familiar shape to draw the eye. The eye needs movement to maintain its interest. I am wondering if there is a new rule of composition here?  “Successful images draw you from the recognizable to the abstract?”

Art market - Toronto © Stephen D'Agostino
Art market – Toronto © Stephen D’Agostino

Third, multiple exposure seems to deconstruct subjects into blocks or alternatively, does the opposite creating a pointillist effect. The images I like best are driven by colour. Big bold blocks of colour. It doesn’t matter if the subject is soft such as “The Gallery of Light” or more structured like “Art Market”, colour competes with form for your eye’s attention.

The dragon boaters - Toronto © Stephen D'Agostino
The dragon boaters – Toronto © Stephen D’Agostino

Last, I am reminded of the paradigm of photo impressionism. In traditional photography the subject is framed by the camera. In multiple exposure photography the image is created by the movement of the frame.