We already know that one long exposure photo can be incredible. But what if you stack multiple long exposures, combining their perspectives in Photoshop? You cover more time, you can see more light. And the effect is remarkable.
Winner - Night Landscape
This was taken in the high mountains above Los Angeles. High enough, thankfully, to be above the cloud cover that night. I found a lookout to set up my tripod and snapped a few pictures with different exposures. The sky/background image was a six second exposure, the winding road was exposed for ten seconds. Driving up around the other side of the mountain is where you can see the city and on this night, the clouds were perfect. Thick enough to make it really moody but thin enough that the city lights were poking through. The city lights part of the shot was exposed for two and a half seconds. I then cobbled all three images together in photoshop. All pieces were taken at f1.8 / 35mm and 200 ISO on my Nikon D5100.
- Dan Durakovich
I just got an SLR and I have been playing with light painting. Some of my friends stopped by that I haven't seen in a while. I told them about the challenge, and they happened to have some LED balls that change color over time. We ended up using 5 exposures & I used photoshop to put them together. First was used as the sun was setting with a natural density filter. Second was after the sun set, this one I lit her up with a flashlight. Third, she was just spinning the balls in a circle. Fourth, were my friends throwing the ball back and forth to make a rainbow effect (in photoshop I used warp & wave to make it flow, hope that's okay). Fifth was my friend making random poses using the flashlight. This was a really fun challenge!
- Dimitri Tcherkassov
It was difficult to get a non-cloudy night in my neck of the suburbs over the past 5 evenings, so there are some clouds in this one. I also could not stray to far from the house (although I will someday) so this one was taken in my back yard. I don't have an intervalometer so I used Apple's Automator and made a little application that would take pictures every 30 seconds then hooked the camera up to my MacBook. I ran some test shots the first night (very good idea.) Then the next night I set it up to go for about an hour and a half and got this. Canon EOS EOS 30D, ISO 100, 24mm, f/4, with about 120 thirty second exposures. I stacked the photos in Photoshop using File>Scripts>Statistics>Maximum. I kind of like the airplane that cuts across it too. This was/is a really great challenge. I learned a lot and look forward to getting a better location, subject, night, weather, time, etc. soon.
- Brian McCabe
Man at Work
When I saw this challenge I really wanted to do it, but I didnt want to do star trails, as I expected a lot of people to do them. I wasnt sure what to do. I decided to work from home on Friday(yeah my job rocks like that) and was sitting at my desk and it dawned on me that me working might make for an interesting shot(or series of shots) for this weeks challenge. So I setup the tripod next to my desk and loaded up the EOS utility software so I could get everything set without have to look at the camera. After some trial I arrived at the above settings. I told t to take 100 shots 1 minute apart and went about my day. At the end I chose 3 shots that I thought looked the best, and stacked them in Photoshop. The result is what you see attached. Camera: Canon T2I
Lens: Kit 18-55, Aperture: f/22, ISO: 100, Shutter: 30s
- Aaron Knipe
Tower of Power
After making two trips up to the Mt. Wilson towers at 1 AM, couldn't find a reliable way to stack on a Mac and finally found it at 4 AM, and now as I type this away at 4:45 AM on Monday, I have little to now energy to explain any of this. i just want to sleep. (-.-) NIkon D300, ISO 100, NIKKOR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6, 18mm f/3.5, Photoshop CS6
- Chad Whitaker
Stellar Product Placement
Tell me, did you fall for a shooting star? Nearly. For this challenge I set my Canon T2i on my tripod and set up the shot shortly before sunset by framing in the area I wanted to shoot. About 9:30 PM I went out to begin the shoot. I took a couple of photos to dial in what I wanted, Had to light the area up my 126-LED light. The satellite dish was nicely in focus, but the starts were a blur, badly. So i decided to to a focus on a far off object (turned to the boarder area and focused on the city 7 mile away). Then did another test. Looked good. So I set up with my remote trigger, put the camera onto a 30 second exposure an appature of f/8.0, and ISO of 1600, and a focal length of 79mm. I clicked the remote trigger, and locked it into the on position. I then let the camera run while I looked into the sky listening to my Ipod. Saw a handful of shooting stars during the shoot. none of them in the field of view. How cool would that have been if it had happened? Anyway after a little more than two hours, the battery died and I packed it in, mosquito bites and all (hasn't rained here in more than a month, and the normal summer rains do not start for another month, yet those little bitters are out and about). I downloaded the Startrails program from the site for the tutorial from the challenge anouncement and put together some 205 photos for this. The satellite dish is a little lighter than expected because the neighbors came home and the light from their taillights lit up the foreground well.
- John Hays
'Since I live near a popular nightlife area in Philadelphia I decided to use this challenge to document the activity out on my street corner on a Saturday night. The end result is a combination of 180, 2 second exposures, taken around 10PM. I experimented with a few different exposure times and eventualIy decided that two seconds allowed for a balance between the car lights and capturing the movement of people. Canon T3, Exposure time 2 seconds, Aperture f/4.5
- Ben Schwartzbach
Backyard Star Trail
Took about 400 long-exposure shots from my backyard, which has a view of Tucson's Sabino Canyon and Thimble Peak, on 6-8-12 between 9 pm and 2 am.
I played around with different exposure times ,apertures, ISOs, until my camera's battery finally died.
I found that fewer longer expsures (~ 3 minutes) worked better in general than many shorter exposures worked much better when stacking with Startrails. There was slight movement of the camera for some shots, I think due to mirror movement, which meant weeding through the shots to take out the slightly "off" ones.
A lot of air traffic meant taking out some individual images as well - although the planes did add a cool effect in some of my stacked images. The submitted photo was made by stacking 33 separate images, each taken with 30 second exposure time at f/5.6, ISO 3200, 64 mm focal length, and white balance set at 3200K (Tungsten) to get more blue in the sky. The final stacked image was tweaked a bit for brightness, contrast. Thanks to this shooting challenge, I finally got out and tried something I've been wanting to do for years!
Equipment used: Canon Rebel T3i, 18-135mm lens, intervalometer in the stock EOS Utility software on a Windows laptop, Startrails freeware, tripod.
- Chris Wiegand
Living near LAX there are always planes landing and taking off. There are two great locations to watch this happen. I chose the one across the street from In-N-Out for the food. After a number of position changes to ensure the planes are actually in the frame I stood in spot for about 45 minutes pressing the shutter. I used GIMP to stack the images. I used Startrails initially for the auto use and decided that I wanted to see the color in the trees, which gives it a very otherworld feel. I used only 4 images for this, but took over 50. Nikon D90, f/22, 30 seconds, Focal Length 28mm
- Jereme Skelton
Bought some glow sticks and just spun them around and relocated myself between shots. Wish they sold brighter glow sticks. I am sure to do this again, it was a lot of fun. Stitched together using "StartraX". Canon T2i 30 second exposure (14 of them), ISO 100. F.11
- Paul Valerio
Ever since I started up a coral reef aquarium last year, I've been obsessed with trying to get in close with macro shots. Photo stacking is a great trick to help capture an ample view of these buggers as is keeping the tank inhabitants still enough to snap a long exposure. The vast, wild difference in appearance under varying lighting is simply amazing! This particular photo is of a polyp called a Crown Royal Zoanthid. Nikon D90, Nikkor 70-180mm Micro, Kenko extensions. The stacked photo combines five 0.5s / f9 exposures at 135mm and ISO 200. - Michael Masone
This shot was taking over the course of an hour and a half while jamming out to some music and hanging out with my boyfriend. Of course, within ten minutes of setting up, a cop pulls up with his obnoxious lights on asking why we were in the back of a parking lot to the park. With his lights interfering with the shot, I had to start over and assure him we were not there for a drug deal, as he assumed we were. This image was all stacked 30 second exposures, shot with a remote trigger. Nikon d7000, Nikkor 17-55mm lens, ISO 400
- Amie Hauck
This picture consists of about 100- 10 second exposures. I was actually on my way home from a somewhat disappointing shoot when I saw some lightning in the distance. I decided to stop and take a few pictures in hopes that the storm would come my way. At first I was a little disappointed because I couldn't make out many solid lightning bolts. Most of the action seemed to be hidden in the storm clouds. It wasn't until I got all the pictures on the computer and stacked into one image that I noticed I did indeed catch a good number of lightning bolts. This was taken from West Skyline Parkway on Spirit Mountain in Duluth MN. PENAX K-x
50mm prime, f 2.8, ISO 100
- Shawn Nicholas
Wow, some crazy-awesome shots this week—and well-earned, given all of your sleepy-eyed decriptions. Some of you showed incredible restraint, others went all-out with special effects. Both approaches proved fascinating. Thanks for participating. And as always, the big shots are on flickr. I know I'm thieving a few of these shots for my own wallpaper collection.