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4.4 Rating
How to Photograph a Lunar Eclipse

Learn the techniques needed to shoot lunar eclipses from Mr. Eclipse, Fred Espenak

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When to Use Graduated Neutral Density Filters

How to use a graduated neutral density filter to decrease extreme light to…

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Photograph the Classic Holiday Light Bokeh Effect

Tips for shooting lights as soft globes of color

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Panoramas

Simple Steps to Big Pictures

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Polarizing Filters Add POW to Pictures

An Easy to Use Accessory, Polarizing Filters Bring out the Color and Definition in…

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Basics of Exposure and Camera Controls

Ideal class for those who want to go beyond point & shoot photography

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Shooting the Full Moon with the COOLPIX P900

Using the Moon Scene Mode and 83x zoom of the COOLPIX P900

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Photography Lighting Tutorial Part 2 - Control of Color

Go on location with Joe McNally for a video tutorial on lighting…

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One Shot: Catch the Wind

Deborah Sandidge on easy D500 multiple exposures

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Using Auto FP High-Speed Sync to Illuminate Fast Sports Action

Dave Black on using high-speed flash sync for sports…

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Understanding ISO Sensitivity

Photography is built on the three pillars of exposure: shutter speed, aperture and…

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One Shot: Stamps of Approval

Cindy Dyer's imagery becomes US Postage Stamps

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4.3 Rating
Understanding Auto ISO

Auto ISO can simplify shooting under changing lighting conditions

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4.6 Rating
Underwater Photography

Tips for getting started shooting underwater with David Doubilet

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FOCUS First: A System for Better Photos

Mark Alberhasky's 5 step system for taking better pictures

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Bright Idea: Adding Star Power
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Bright Idea: Adding Star Power

Creating a starburst in your photographs

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Scene Recognition System and Advanced SRS

Nikon's SRS and Advanced SRS recognize the position, color, tones and…

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A Basic Look at the Basics of Exposure

The relationship between aperture, shutter speed and ISO is the basis of every…

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Bokeh for Beginners

Have your subjects stand apart from the background with this easy technique

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Mothers' Days: Good Timing and Great Locations Result in Memorable Maternity Photographs

Beth Wade discusses tips for…

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Capture NX 2: Lesson 10

Discover the time-saver of batch processing a group of your images.

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Capture NX 2: Lesson 5

Learn how to quickly adjust the brightness and vividness in an image.

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Photographing People Using Wireless Lighting Techniques

Tom Bol's images inspire new ways of taking a portrait photo.

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Take Control of Color using Picture Controls

Diana Robinson gets the color she wants with Picture Controls in-camera and…

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Image Overlay: Combining Images Together In-Camera

One image? Two Images? Three images? The possibilities are endless.

In the thrilling days of yesteryear...that is, before digital...a special effect like multiple exposure was truly special—as in special effort, special knowledge and, often, a special amount of time devoted to it. Nothing wrong with that—it was part of the craft and the creativity of photography—and when done well it was a special achievement.

In these days of digital, special effects are often achieved when advanced technology responds to imagination.

We were thinking about this because of a conversation we had with Nikon senior product manager Lindsay Silverman about image overlay, a special effect feature available on many Nikon D-SLR cameras. Check your camera's manual to see if your specific model offers the feature.

"Image overlay came about from the concept of multiple exposure," Lindsay says, "and it borrows from multiple exposure the end-result: two or more images combined to form a new one. But because of the benefits of digital technology, the combining can be done after the fact, and the exposure values of each image involved can be adjusted long after the photos have been taken."

Multiple exposure used to mean the build up of two or more exposures on a frame of film, and it involved a lot of calculation to figure out the exposure compensation needed to prevent the result from looking like...well, like mud. You'd also have to release the camera's clutch mechanism so the shutter could be cocked without the film advancing. Today, with select Nikon D-SLRs, multiple exposures are a lot more precise because once you select the number of exposures you're going to make, the camera automatically adjusts the density of each one.

But image overlay is a little different—and, some might say, a lot more elegant.

"You're choosing the photos you want to combine," Lindsay says, "and they can be pictures taken minutes, hours, days or weeks apart, with different lenses, with flash and without—anything goes as long as the photos are on the same memory card and you've taken the pictures in RAW format."

For instance, Lindsay's historical musical image. "I took it about four years ago while on vacation with my family in Williamsburg, Virginia. I was shooting with the D80, walking around, looking for ideas to present a familiar subject in a different way. When I saw the flautist and, nearby, some sheet music on a  table, I thought an image overlay would work pretty well. I took her picture sort of looking over her shoulder, as if I were marching behind her in one of those historical paintings. Then, maybe 30, 40, 50 shots later, I took a fairly close-up view of the sheet music in several different compositions. On the bus back to the hotel I was reviewing the pictures on the LCD and right there called up the image overlay function and made the composite."

 

And there's really not much more to it. Choose image overlay and the camera prompts you to select a photo, and because it's in RAW format, you're free to play with its exposure—making it lighter or darker as a result—without affecting the original. Select your second photo, adjust it and then combine the two images. You'll be previewing the end result, so you can further adjust either or both of the images and see the density changes as you make them. When you get what you like, save it as a new RAW photo. The originals are unchanged and the composite can be taken into editing software, like Capture NX 2, for further adjustment. 

"Sometimes I work like I did that day," Lindsay says, "with the idea of an image overlay in mind. Other times I'll be reviewing photos I've taken and see possibilities. Either way, it's a lot of creative fun. I can see where people could create holiday cards, family calendars, images to send with email, you name it.

"It's pretty cool, the power of digital."

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