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How to Use Photo Stacking for Daytime Long Exposures

How to Use Photo Stacking for Daytime Long Exposures 

Have you ever tried photographing dreamy, daytime landscapes with smooth, stretched clouds. Then you know the real challenges of getting the money shot with just one click.

But what if I tell you that you can achieve that perfect shot through photo stacking. Let’s find out more about what it is and what you can do with it when shooting long exposure photography!

What Is The Purpose of Stacking Photos?

The term stacking simply means combining several photos to create a “master image.”

There are several forms of stacking. The first one is called focus stacking. It combines several pictures with different focus points to create one final image that’s sharp from the foreground to the background.

The second type of stacking is for panorama. Instead of laying one image on top of another, it ‘stitches’ photos side by side to create a panoramic picture.

Finally, the third form of stacking is for long exposure photography which we will be learning today. It combines your image files to enhance anything from moving clouds to waves in the sea.

Each of the stacking methods we mentioned in this article involves a two-step process. The first part is taking a series of pictures. And the second part is combining them in post-production. The ideal editing suite for this purpose is Photoshop, and that’s what we will be using this tutorial.

How to Create Perfect Daytime Long-Exposures

When doing long-exposure photography, a lot of problems can easily ruin your shot.

A lot of things can quickly go wrong with an exposure time around 4 minutes. You could encounter all sorts of issues from false light to camera shake.

But by dividing the shot into several shorter exposures, you can overcome most of the issues. You can stack your files together in to achieve that one perfect shot.

Photo stacking is not a technique for every situation. But sometimes stacking your long-exposures is the only way to get a good shot. It’s imperative to know when you need it during shooting.

When to Use Photo Stacking

False Light

At night when the light is limited, you can do 2 or 4 minutes exposures without using neutral density filters.

But during the day, you’ll often have too much light available for long-exposure photography. Using slow shutter speeds in the daytime with a ten-stop ND-filter might still result in an overexposed shot.

Photo stacking your daytime long-exposure photos ensures you get correctly exposed shots. You’ll find this especially useful if you don’t own a ten-stop neutral density filter.

Camera Shake

Besides false light, shaking is the most common reason for failed shots in long-exposure photography.

Since your camera shutter stays open for a few minutes any movement it records will register as light streaks or motion blur. That’s the same reason why clouds in the sky or the waves in the ocean look wispy.

But small vibrations can also cause motion blur in your camera. Even a breeze or a gentle nudge could easily ruin your shots.

So remember to take the camera strap off your camera while shooting long-exposure. It acts as a sail in the wind and causes shaking to the tripod and camera.

You should also make sure the ground is sturdy enough to support your tripod. Use a remote trigger for hands-free operation. Remember that even touching the shutter button could quickly introduce motion blur.

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