(H) Ed Halley's

GIMP Tutorials

Using Multiple Exposures in Photography

The following is a brief tutorial on how you can take and edit multiple distinct digital photographs taken from a single vantage point for creative photo-manipulated effects. This includes separate scanned film images, or separate images from a digital camera.

Selective Portraiture

Sometimes, group portraits are easy. Line them up, tell them to say, "Roquefort!", and snap the shutter when they start to giggle.

And then sometimes, they're a bit more challenging.

Young children are distracted, active, unstable creatures. Here are eight images taken within moments of each other. Comparing them with translucent layers, you can see the problem clearly: little kids don't always take direction too well.

Once the images are stacked and aligned in your photo editor, it's time to add layer masks to each. We could do this whole task with the eraser tool, as we have shown before. With the eraser, just erase everything that isn't desired. You may find that layer masks are a little more flexible when you've got several images to combine, though. It's easier to "unerase" masked areas, since the pixel colors never really go away.

Start with a transparent mask (all-black) to each layer except the bottom one. A few quick brush strokes on those masks will let the best pose for each child shine through. Baby from one layer, toddlers from another layer, and eldest from yet another. Mix and match. Just be careful about overlapping areas, as we've described previously.

Selective portraiture isn't just for children, though. Salvage a nice portrait where somebody blinked their eyes at just the wrong time. Once you're accustomed to blending and editing images, it's nearly always a good idea to take two or more images instead of just one.

Once finished, flatten the image. If you like, you can now grab a clone tool to wipe out any unsightly distractions which appeared in all frames, such as fences or garbage or telephone lines.

Next Section: Problems and Solutions

Contact Ed Halley by email at ed@halley.cc.
Text and artwork are Copyright © 1996-2005 Ed Halley
Copying in whole or in part, with author attribution, is expressly allowed.