Multiple exposure in green

10. Jan 2022


An example of creative techniques, a star-shaped plant is effectfully presented with multiple exposures, isolated in front of a white background with simple means. A technique that you can easily use in your own similar photos.

Nothing but green

Multiple exposure with five images, the final photo

"Green" was the theme for which I was seeking a creative idea in late spring and that led to this image. The multiple overlays emphasise and amplify the star-shaped arrangement of the leaves, turning them into an almost abstract image.

It is a multiple exposure of five shots, in which the different images add up in their brightness. Here are the steps that have brought me to this photo with approx. 40-50 shots for testing and trying out, and I'll skip the failed and discarded ideas:

The subject and the image idea

The photo model as it stood in a bed of flowers

This is how the plant stood in a densely overgrown flower bed; it is an obvious idea to use its striking shape for a photo.

The star-like shape from above

The view from above shows the shape to best advantage. So we have a nice subject, but not yet a good photo. The star-like shape does not really stand out against the full and similarly green background. And the plant itself is still missing something extraordinary for a striking, special and creative photo.

Multiple exposure

A first test with fivefold multiple exposure, with zooming between the shots

A multiple exposure can multiply the radially diverging leaves and thus intensify their effect. Since the plant already has quite a lot of leaves, this quickly becomes too much of a good thing – hence the second idea: to change the distance to the plant between the individual shots or to zoom in so that a superimposition of leaves of different sizes is created.

The first attempts show the desired effect already quite well. However, we have not yet reached our goal, the leaves have become quite uniformly pale green. The multiple exposure was set in such a way that the individual pictures add up, so the result becomes brighter with each additional shot. This leads to the bright, pale colours.

Realising the image idea 

Kitchen towels are sufficient for cropping against a white background

Background | Let's approach the final picture with what we have found so far, first the background: Two towels from the kitchen, laid over the other plants, provide the light background. They were readily at hand and worth a try... the fact that they are not uniformly white turned out to be no bother. The light patterns disappear in the multiple exposure, they are bright enough so that several shots together result in a pure white.

One of many shots with the final settings, uncropped

Brightness | The plant should shine in a vivid, bright green against the white background. Trial and error showed that an exposure compensation of -0.7 was sufficient to achieve a luminous green as in the next picture.

Centre camera position | To make the individual images appear approximately equally centred, I set the camera to focus with a single focus spot in the centre of the image. The autofocus marker was a good aid for camera alignment, I held it on the centre of the plant for each shot.

The logic of this multiple exposure | In this case it was important to choose the multiple exposure on the camera so that the individual shots add up their brightness.

  • The white background appears in image spots where the towel was in each of the five exposures; after five exposures it was overexposed and the pattern on it had disappeared.
  • The outermost, faintly discernible peaks received a leaf in one of the five shots and the background in four.
  • And so on, the more often a part of the picture got a green leaf from the five shots, the more intense the green became.

So the way was clear, everything prepared - point the camera at the centre of the plant from above with the autofocus marker, release the shutter five times; with zooming slightly turning the camera between the shots.

The final image

Multiple exposure with five images, the final photo

Try and see then leads to many similar shots, from which I chose the one with the most appealing pattern. In the image processing I only cropped the edges and found that a square format suits the photo best.

Furthermore, I decided for a crop in which the outermost tips go beyond the edge of the picture. I like it because it adds more dynamics to the picture, as if the leaves were flying apart and bursting the frame.

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