When all the elements fall info place during a photo session you can find yourself a lot more than just a couple of high quality single images but instead can find that you have captured a series of images that illustrates some really interesting action. Combining multiple images into a single action sequence image can give you a creative eye opening image that can really surprise viewers.
If you would like to try one of these images on your own, here are some tips to get you started.
Action that takes place parallel or slightly angled to the camera sensor are easiest to combine. A sequence coming directly at the camera can be difficult to combine due to problems with depth of field banding.
Manual mode is best since the exposure is more even frame to frame results will be a lot easier to work with.
Always use the very best technique, the proper shutter speed and aperture are essential. For the image above I used the 120-300mm F2.8 D G OS HSM at 1/4000th of a second and one stop down from maximum. The image below is a 100% actual pixel crop of the sequence to give you an idea of the quality.
Telephoto lens compression and narrow angle of view are ideal for this kind of image. The Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM | S worked perfectly to make the images in this post.
Composite images are great for large prints. The images in this post are from 8000 to 10,000 pixels across so there are plenty of pixels for enlargement.
Three images work best for beginners but don’t stop there. I have successfully used up to 15 images blended into one frame with good results.
There are a couple of things to look for when choosing images for this type of work. Simple smooth backgrounds work best. In the images above I was lucky to be able to match the water ripples pretty well. Busy backgrounds with lots of detail are very difficult to blend together in the final image.
Always choose the very best images for the sequence, forget bad or awkward wing positions if you are using bird images.
There are a couple ways to assemble the images. I used the old manual method with Photoshop CS6 and dropped two images into one image using masks to blend the background. You can also use auto commands in Photoshop.
Auto-align layers and auto-blend commands can save you lots of times especially with more complex images. If you own Photoshop these techniques will get you started but this type of work is not for the beginner. Load the images into photoshop, I just drag and drop but you want to automate more use Menu>File>Scripts> Load files into stack to assemble the images together to get started. Now lock the anchor image, I used the middle image in the first eagle sequence. Next align with the Auto button checked and use Menu>Auto-Align layers>OK. Now use Menu>Auto-Blend layers with the Panorama option selected and press OK to blend. Now you have to fine tune the positioning and masking to make the image look its best.
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get good results on your first try. I have been doing these kinds of image for years so dont expect perfect results on your first attempt.
These images were made last month during an epic 21 day trip to Alaska. I will share more details about the trip in the next blog post.
If you have any questions or comments be sure to share ‘em in the comments section below.
Robert O’Toole is a Sigma Pro and has been a professional photographer for more than 20 years. As an accomplished instructor, Robert leads photography workshop tours across the US and internationally. For more info visit Robert’s web site at robertotoolephotography.com