Digital Home Thoughts: Photo Voodoo: Multiplicity

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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Photo Voodoo: Multiplicity

Posted by Gary Sheynkman in "ARTICLE" @ 01:30 PM

The age of digital photography brought us tons of perks. We can make over exposed photos appear normal. We can get rid of noise in our high ISO images. We can even clone people with this nifty technique.

Just follow these steps to create your own multiplicity photo!

Step 1: Prep
You will need the best camera you can get your hands on. The higher the pixel count (resolution) the better. I strongly suggest doing this in a secluded area unless you are a master photo-shopper in which case you should not be reading this. The second most important item is actually of equal importance to the camera being at the location! You need a tripod or some sort of contraption to fix the camera in one place with zero flexibility. This part is crucial to creating a successful photo.

Step 2: Taking the Photos
Once you have a scene in mind, have you subject assume the first position. I suggest using the manual mode of your camera in order to keep as many factors of digital photography static as possible. From this point until the end of the photo-shoot the tripod and camera must stay stationary. If you have a remote shutter release for your camera I advise using that as well because even touching the camera produces small distortions that are a hassle to deal with in post-processing. Take the pictures with the subject moving to a different location each time. Remember that the subject must not occupy any of the space occupied by the same subject in the last picture. Overlapping is ok, but from a composition standpoint, make sure the scene isnít too unrealistic; unless that is what you are going for. Now that you are done with the photography portion of the project, it is time to move on to the hard part!

Step 3: The Wonder of Photoshop
Although there are other image-editing programs out on the market, Photoshop is the most popular and is the most efficient to use. Although there is no particular order to layering the photos, I recommend putting the photos together depending on their proximity to the front of the picture. The far-most photo then, becomes your background. This is the image that is not going to be altered. Next take the photo that is next to the background photo proximity-wise and paste in on top as a new layer. The next step is going to be repeated over and over. Take the eraser tool and set the opacity and flow to 100% each. Change the blending options in the layer sub-menu to accent the top layer. There is no ďbest blending optionĒ since every photo is different. Scroll around to find the one that makes the top layer stand out the most. Now take the eraser and erase everything but the subject of the photo and certain vital areas around it (shadows and reflections that are predicated on the subject being where it is). If the subjects overlap make sure to zoom in very close and delete any space between the background subject and the new layer subject. Remember that certain photos will have the original subject showing between the legs or bent arms of the new subject. Use a small size eraser to delete those small but crucial areas to making your picture look realistic. Once you are satisfied with the new picture you created, repeat the progress for the next closest picture to the two subjects.


Figure 1: I am deleting the top-most layer to reveal the 5 layers of work I have completed. The hardest part is getting in really close and outlining the shadows of the previous layer especially around the face area.

The Triumphant Conclusion
The first time you make one of these nifty pictures it may take you anywhere from 40 minutes to 2 hours depending on the complexity of your subjects, shadows, and sheer number or clones you wish to make. Remember, the more time you spend trimming the unneeded layers the better your picture will look. Now go create and donít forget to show off your work. Remember, if you donít have web space you can always use the Personal Media Folder if you are a subscriber!


Figure 2: This is the finished result. A cool trick to use is to put this image through a program like noise ninja or neat image and let it iron out any small kinks in the image.

[i] Gary Sheynkman is an extremely good looking guy who lives in Chicago and is planning on attending Kelly School Of Business for his finance degree. He enjoys talking about himself in third person as well as playing around with any digital media toys he gets his hands on![i]

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