Moments from the Noisy Years

I’ve wanted to try the multiple exposure composition for a long time and today the ingredients came together: an uninterrupted setting sun and a set of preoccupied twins bustling around their playhouse.  My 4yo daughter was at gymnastics and will likely be cranky that she wasn’t included but this was a more spontaneous dry run, and a 3rd party would have made this a bit more challenging. When I was putting this one together, I later wished I had put one of the girls in a different color dress, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers. I’m just glad I didn’t get a multiple exposure of them running over to play with Daddy’s camera and tripod.

Another example and what inspired me to do this was from Mike, and he wrote an excellent description on how to put these together. I did mine a little different though.

I used eleven total images. For the master image, as Mike points out, I took one of the playhouse before they went over to it. And then I snapped the rest over the next 10-15 minutes as they played.

I then brought all eleven into Photoshop and aligned them by drawing a marquee over the canvas, selecting all eleven layers, and then used the alignment tool. I then added layer masks to all layers and simply masked the kids in all the other layers through to the master layer with a medium-soft brush. The only rub with this method I found is that it hogs resources with so many layer masks and causes masking with the brush to get a little haywire. The good thing with the layer mask is that mistakes can easily be reversed.

I was pleased with the results and it was a fun composition to put together. I have a feeling I will be doing this again soon once daughter #3 sees this photo and I’m sure she’ll want it “costumed.”

POST EDIT: Per requests, more specific directions:

  1. Tripod and camera. Preferably a camera with a manual mode for setting exact exposure, iso, apeture and focal point. The more steady and exact the background, the easier to work later.
  2. Take photos.
  3. Bring all photos to into Photoshop (CS3 or later) under one canvas.
  4. Put master image on bottom layer. This is the image everything will appear on.
  5. Align images either manually, the align tools tied to the Move tool, or the auto-align under Edit menu.
  6. Select each layer and add a layer mask (vector mask) from the Layers palette, except for the master layer. The vector mask icon appears as a square with a circle in it.
  7. On each layer, click the mask that appears as a white square to the right of the actual image. Key CTRL + I to invert the mask, turning it totally black (this will make the image on the layer disappear as you just masked it completely out). You should now only see the master layer.
  8. Hide each layer except for one to begin composing.
  9. Press D to default the color palette to black and white (foreground & background).
  10. Select the brush tool, make sure the white color on the pallet is active, and then select the mask (not the image) on a layer.
  11. Using the brush, paint the element in (for my example, one of the kids). With the mask and white color, you are allowing pixels to mask into the master layer. If you make a mistake, simply press X turning the brush color to black and paint back over the mistake. The black masks out pixels from reaching master layer. So white = add, and black = erase. Another note, when you start the masking process on the layer, the element will appear as you brush, so it’s a little guesswork as far as locating the element in the layer. I usually drop the opacity on the layer I’m working on so I can see it and the master layer somewhat at the same time.
  12. Repeat for remaining layers. Turn the layer on, and brush in what you want to appear on the master layer.

10 thoughts on “Moments from the Noisy Years

  1. 11 images! You are way more ambitious than I! But, I feel the gauntlet has been tossed down and I need to work a little harder next time! I’m not sure I understand your method entirely so I’ll have to do what I can. BTW, I thought they were all the same girl at first, I didn’t notice the different dresses.

    1. Ha! Next time I will need to put them in complimentary colors, or a triad if I add the 3rd. As for the method, I’ll email you a more defined process if interested.

  2. This image is amazing, so fun and energetic although my head may explode at trying to comprehend it all. If it’s possible I would be very interested to learn the finer parts of the process if you would be willing to share.
    Excellent stuff
    Astra Wally

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