Why I Use Stacking As a substitute of an ND Filter for Lengthy Publicity Images

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On this article, I’ll share a method that I realized a few years in the past and that I nonetheless use sometimes. You should utilize it for eradicating individuals from a scene, however on this case, I will likely be utilizing it to imitate one among a impartial density (ND) filter’s fundamental functions: longer publicity.

There are disadvantages to utilizing an ND filter for longer exposures.

First, if the digicam has moved or if one thing occurs in entrance of the digicam, these modifications will usually be completely saved within the ensuing photograph.

A second downside is the noise that’s launched when taking pictures longer exposures. Sure, higher-end cameras and sensors can assist you keep away from a few of the noise, however even on these cameras, utilizing picture stacking as an alternative of a single ND filtered publicity can assist you obtain cleaner outcomes.

To create the next {photograph}, I first captured 247 separate images:

I then stacked the images in Photoshop after making easy changes to my uncooked recordsdata.

Right here’s what you do:

1. In Photoshop, below the File menu, go to Scripts, then Load Information Into Stack.

2. When you have opened your recordsdata from Digicam Uncooked, click on on Add Open Information. When you have tiffs, then hit Browse. Ensure you verify the bins to routinely align supply photographs and to create a Good Object after loading the layers.

3. After Photoshop does its magic of aligning, go to the Layer menu, choose Good Objects, then hit Stack Mode. Select Median or Imply. You need to make your selection primarily based on what works finest together with your work.

Observe: Should you’re stacking giant numbers of recordsdata, you might want a pc highly effective sufficient to deal with this type of process.

Making fundamental changes throughout the person images earlier than stacking them.

So as an alternative of utilizing an ND filter for longer exposures, you may seize an extended cumulative publicity time throughout a number of images after which stack them for a mixed longer publicity.

The principle benefit of this method is the management you get when you’ve so many frames to select from and work with.

For instance, if somebody walked in entrance of your digicam throughout the shoot, you may simply delete the frames which have the individual in them.

In case your photograph incorporates shifting topics similar to timber, these objects can be blurred with a protracted publicity shot by means of an ND filter. However when you have numerous images captured with shorter publicity instances, you could possibly convey again element and sharpness to issues like timber and skies should you’d prefer to.

However one of many greatest benefits of utilizing this method for me is the truth that it permits me to do minimal retouching.

Say you captured the identical lightning {photograph} seen above, besides you used an ND filter and one lengthy publicity. If there have been extra flashes of lightning than you wished, you’d must take away these lightning strikes in post-production. If a ship within the water stayed too lengthy in the identical place, you might be pressured to take away the sunshine from that boat in post-production if you need a clear river.

A lot of these issues would ordinarily power you to clone and retouch your ultimate images.

By utilizing stacking for lengthy publicity images, I’m able to keep away from all of that. I solely select the frames that I need in my ultimate photograph, and I didn’t must do any retouching in any respect apart from my ordinary colour correction and dodging/burning.

I’ve been utilizing this stacking method for my lengthy publicity look for a very long time now because of the elevated management it provides me.


In regards to the writer: Alexander Gentle is a photographer targeted on road, journey, and landscapes. The opinions expressed on this article are solely these of the writer. You could find extra of his work on his web site, Fb, and Instagram.



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