My Adventures In Photography

A while back I started a photography column for my hometown's local newspaper — you'll find all of my columns from those pages here as well as new ones that I write.

To see all of my blog posts to date, click here.

An artistic approach

 ALL IN ONE: Using Adobe Photoshop’s masking tools I was able to make a composite photograph of the Bay City fireworks for Independence Day. From left to right, each diagonal line features a 10 second long exposure and represents the passage of time throughout the show.

ALL IN ONE: Using Adobe Photoshop’s masking tools I was able to make a composite photograph of the Bay City fireworks for Independence Day. From left to right, each diagonal line features a 10 second long exposure and represents the passage of time throughout the show.

Once upon a time in a land not so far away, I created works of art using Adobe Photoshop.

Because of the nigh infinite gamut of color options available and the precision of today’s photo editing software, creating works of art using that software is both intuitive and fun. I used to sit in front of my computer at home, tablet pen in hand, and doodle out character designs and fantasy scenes — I even have a small following on my old DeviantArt page because of some of the sword designs I’ve made in the past.

 LAYERS: I included a screenshot of the Layers panel in Adobe Photoshop CC as an added visual to help explain the masking process. Each image was placed into the Photoshop file as a layer and then masked to create the final image.

LAYERS: I included a screenshot of the Layers panel in Adobe Photoshop CC as an added visual to help explain the masking process. Each image was placed into the Photoshop file as a layer and then masked to create the final image.

Today’s post delves into that artistic world just a touch because the photos taken for this post weren’t just edited and saved using Photoshop, they were blended together to create a work of art.

The photo above is a composite photo of 35 different images taken during the Bay City fireworks display on Independence Day. Blending the images together, while a relatively simple task, took some time not only because of the method I used, but also because I didn’t know exactly what it would look like when I was done.

I had an idea, sure. But half the fun is just messing around in Photoshop and seeing what can be made by trying different things.

After initial color correction of the photos in Adobe’s Camera Raw plug-in for Photoshop, I opened all 35 of the images into a single Photoshop document as individual layers. Doing this allowed me to stack the images over top of each other and create the effect I was aiming for.

Each photo was taken about 10 seconds apart on a tripod, and each diagonal line represents the passage of time throughout the image. The first diagonal line on the left features fireworks from the beginning of the show, and the last diagonal line on the right features fireworks from the end of the show.

For a fun little accent I also created a circular mask for a couple of my favorite images so the image isn’t just a ton of diagonal lines. I felt it creates some visual interest.

The lines were created by selecting the parts of the image that I wanted to be included in that particular line and creating a mask using that selection. That’s the tedious part, but there is a rewarding aspect in that I couldn’t see the final image until I finished adding in the masks on each photo. At the end I was pleasantly surprised.

Other photographers have used this kind of photo-merging technique to show the passage of time in a certain area (usually either in the morning or during sunset for the most drastic results). Originally, I had planned to include the sunset in this piece, but I underestimated how close I was to the fireworks and had to change my framing once the show began to get the fireworks properly in the shot.

I plan on doing more projects like this in the future. It was a fun experience.