Some low-light and/or extended-exposure photography concepts...

Stuff I've done -- the basic techniques:

Here's some miscellaneous stuff I've done in the areas of "multiple and/or extended exposure" photography (a name I just made up, though perhaps there's a more universally accepted name out there somewhere):

Ferris wheel:

Here are two images taken of the ferris wheel in Seattle Center. The first image was taken while it was still, and so it looks relatively ordinary (it's a night shot, but...); The second shot has it in motion -- quite a different effect, I think:

Ferris wheel -- still version Ferris wheel -- moving

Light sticks:

The following image was taken with a long exposure of 3 kids, swinging light-sticks around. I asked the kids to stay as still as they could except for waving the light-sticks around:

kids with light sticks

Because they were trying to mostly be still, the images of them are actually somewhat stable -- with the most notable exception being that the littlest one actually walked away during the shot! You can't actually see her walking on her path, really, but you can tell that that's what happend (or that she walked backwards into frame, but I'm pretty sure that wasn't the case ;-) in two ways: (1) you can see the lightstick go (it was emitting light, so it didn't need so much time to get captured on the film; and (2) you can see light from the house behind her shining "through" her, as if she were a ghost or something. You can't actually see her moving, though, because this exposure took much longer to actually collect a good image of the kids than it took for her to walk out of frame... and so the film just didn't capture enough of the reflected light for her to show up, except when she was standing still at the beginning.


In a similar theme to the above, the following picture was taken using sparklers as the primary light source:

Jon and sparklers

The main subject stood as still as he was able for 30 seconds. Several other folks, each holding a sparkler in each hand, walked around in circles around him, waving the sparklers as they went. You can't see them, because they didn't stay still long enough. You can, however, see him (and pretty clearly -- he did a great job of standing still). Finally, you can of course see the sparks from the sparklers, including little embers dropping to the ground and bouncing away before they extinguish.

Bumper cars:

If memory serves, this is about 3 seconds worth of action at the bumper cars (near the ferris wheel pictured above). I tried to time the shot right before a collission, so you can see some cars cruising along as just a blur, while others look comparatively still (but the people inside are still blurred because they're bouncing back and forth ;-). Meanwhile, the people on the sidelines are just standing still, so they're quite clear:

bumper cars at Seattle Center

By comparison: single image, but somewhat low light:

This image captures a single moment in time; unlike the images above, which capture either multiple distinct moments, or one more extended time frame, this shot is pretty much "instantaneous". I thought I'd include it anyway, though, just because it was shot in relatively low light, and if you use your imagination, you might well imagine how some of the dark portions of the frame could very easily be merged with other images (using any of the techniques mentioned on this page, for example):

Father and daughter, natural indoor light

More concepts, but with less interesting examples:

Multiple exposures -- in camera:

The following image was created by having my camera actually open its shutter twice, at distinctly different times, without advancing the film in between. You can see the back of the car, with the license plate visible (but obscured to protect... whatever), but also the side of the car, with a passenger very much (if not entirely clearly) visible:

2 images of 1 car

Now, the above isn't my favorite example of using this technique, but... I wanted to show an example of it, since it's one way I might do a "six arms" shot (see below).

But perhaps there's more that's worth exploring, too...

Multiple images -- "Sandwich" printing:

The following image was created from 2 different photographs, each with a dark background -- one of a light, with lots of flare coming off of it, and the other of a soap bubble. This image was creating by taking the two negatives for these images and placing them together in the negative carrier ("sandwiching" them) before enlarging. Each of these negatives was mostly clear (the dark parts -- remember, it's negative), with some dark (becoming light) parts, which, for the most part, did not overlap. Putting them together in the carrier, I got both sections that were blocked out to show up as light, and everything else was dark. Here's the image:

a sandwich print

"Multiple images" -- long exposure:

The only "magic" to the following image is simply that it was taken with a long exposure time. As such, though, it was able to capture two distinct "images" of this crosswalk signal. One with the walking figure, the other with the upraised hand. Never were both lights lit at once, but because the exposure was long enough to capture both events, you get two "images" in one:

walk/don't walk, in one

Further room for exploration:

So, I've pretty much covered some of the basic techniques that I've played with, with two exceptions: (1) long exposure with multiple flashes -- which, alas, I don't have an example of handy, but basically involves leaving the shutter open in a dark environment and then manually firing a flash unit (or using some other light source creatively during the exposure, which I do have examples of above)... -- and (2) digital compositing ("photoshop"), which I imagine needs no explanation from me. ;-)


Other kinds of low-light photography I'd like to do, or do more of:

Meanwhile, feel free to check out more of my low-light photography.

An idea...

So, I've got a friend who does traditional Indian dancing. I want to take a multiple-exposure picture of her sometime so it can look something like this: :-)

Six Arms Pub -- menu