Have you ever seen those photos that contain the same person doing different things throughout the entire image? It’s almost like a time lapse in one photograph. I’ve seen these types of photos pertain to the sports industry and a few other places. For instance, let’s say a basketball player is jogging from the center line to the basket, while dribbling the ball. At the end, he’ll go for a layup and make the basket. In the image, there would be about ten or so instances of the athlete moving from one area to the next, all the way to the basket. I love these types of composites.
I guess the big question is, how the heck do you make a composite image like this? Obviously, a bunch of different photos need to be captured, but what’s the best way to take them? I’ll try to help out and give some tips below.
Okay, the first thing you need to realize when gathering the photos for this type of composite is that you won’t be hand-holding the camera and chasing after the person in the image. The camera needs to be completely still. So, it’ll need to be on a tripod and you’ll need to use a remote shutter button or a device with an app that controls the camera’s shutter button. There should be as little movement of the camera as possible. So, keep your fingers away from the camera and the shutter button.
Also, adjust your camera’s settings so you’ll capture the subject of the photos in focus, whether they are far away from your camera or close to your camera. This will likely be dealt with by adjusting the aperture size and focus setting. You’ll also want to minimize blur as much as possible, so you’ll want a fast shutter speed. Because of the smaller aperture size and faster shutter speed, you’ll either need a lot of light in your scene or a higher ISO setting.
Just as a side note, GoPro cameras are awesome for taking these types of photos because they’re always in focus and capture very high quality images. You don’t really need to adjust them at all. Also, if you placed one of these types of cameras on a table and hit “Go,” it would do all the work for you.
Now, let’s talk about taking the actual photos themselves. Since we’ll be “layering” all of the images on top of one another later in in post-processing, it’s important to take sequenced photos. You can set GoPro cameras to timed “bursts” and you can also set a whole bunch of DSLR cameras to do the same thing. Also, you can just as effectively use the remote shutter button and take the shots yourself while the subject is at critical positions.
If there’s a lot going on, action-wise, in a scene, a good idea is to set your camera to multiple burst mode and take three or four photos at a time to make sure you get as many possibilities as you can. Then, later on in Photoshop or whatever post-processing application you’ll be using, you can toss the unneeded photos away. Basically, you want options and this is a great way to get them.
Another great idea is to record the highest quality video as possible (4k) and then run the video through a video editor and pull out the still frames. There will be a lot of them, so be prepared for this.
All of these ideas are meant to help you with taking a handful of great photos to use in the composite.
In later posts, I’ll be discussing exactly how to merge all of the chosen photos in a post-processing application such as Adobe Photoshop to produce a composite that will include all the photos.