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Image editing tutorial - Composite images

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If you saw my review of the Samsung GX-10, you may be wondering how I created the multi-exposure picture of the kite flier that I included in the sample shots. It was actually fairly easy, only requiring Adobe Photoshop, a bit of patience and a camera with a fairly fast continuous shooting mode. It’s possible to create exactly the same type of image in a number of different photo editing programs, including Adobe Photoshop Elements, GIMP, Corel Paint Shop Pro and Ulead PhotoImpact.

While the GX-10 is a powerful digital SLR and shoots at three frames a second, there are a number of less expensive compact cameras that can shoot nearly as quickly. Cameras such as the Canon S3 IS and Ricoh R6 can manage speeds of around two frames a second, as can a number of others. However you only need a fast frame rate if you’re shooting a relatively fast-moving subject. Many digital compact cameras can manage at least one frame a second, which is fast enough for slower-moving subjects such as a person walking.

To set up your camera to take the initial shots, you need to position it correctly depending on the movement of the subject you are attempting to capture. For my kite-flying shots Richard was moving backwards and forwards across the field, so I positioned the camera at right angles to his path to make sure that his position in each consecutive shot didn’t overlap the previous one.

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I used a wide-angle lens and tilted the camera so that I could get both Richard and his kite in the same shot, and so that there would be enough room in the frame to capture a wide range of movement. I had to be behind him because otherwise the angle of the kite would have put it outside the frame. Also in the event of anything unexpected happening it meant that both myself and the camera were safely out of the way of a very large and fast-moving kite.

Since the background needed to be the same in every shot, I set the camera on a very solid tripod, in my case a Manfrotto 190 Pro. This is essential, since any camera movement between shots will spoil the effect and make the composition process much more difficult. I also set the camera on manual focus and manual exposure, to ensure consistency from one frame to the next.

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With the camera securely fixed and set to continuous shooting mode, it was simply a matter of waiting for Rich to move into the frame and then pressing the shutter as he went past. I took several sequences of shots, of between 10 and 20 frames at a time.

The next step is to get the photos into your editing program. I’m using Adobe Photoshop Elements 5 as usual, but these techniques are very simple and will work in any editing program that uses layers.

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