Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Creating a Multi Exposure Collage

By Christina VanGinkel

I love taking snapshots. Some are actually quite good. Others are so-so. Some, I might like, but I am unsure what to do with them. Some might land in my scrapbooks; others end up blown up in size and framed as gifts for the grandparents or aunts and uncles. Some might even land on my very own walls as forms of what my own idea of art is. It was with this last idea in mind that prompted me to delve further into the technique of Multi Exposure Collages once I came across an image that someone else had made.

The picture that I saw was of a forest scene interwoven with a very nice snapshot of a large whitetail buck. The exposure of the piece was such that it gave the scene a very dreamlike feel. I absolutely loved it. When the photographer who had created the piece told me that I could accomplish this same technique at home with nothing more than a couple of photographs, my computer, and a graphics program that held the capability to do so, I was stunned. I have been an amateur photographer for so many years now that I lost count a long time ago, yet somehow I had never really noticed this technique in any of the many graphics programs I have, or if I saw a finished piece, it must not have been intriguing enough to catch my attention. That was until I came across the collage of the forest and whitetail. In effect, a Multi Exposure Collage allows you to layer several photographs, yet still see the elements of each snapshot.

I decided that I would love to try to create my own multi exposure collage, and I had a couple of perfect pictures in mind. Just recently, I had snapped a few very early morning shots of the cloudy sky and their dramatic pink color as the sun rose, and the very same morning I had been lucky enough to take a picture of a black bear sow up a tree. I thought that the image of the sow, superimposed on one of the pink cloud sunrise shots would be an ideal match to try this technique.

Looking through the software installed on my computer, I discovered that Picasa 2, a free download available via the Internet, actually had the capability to create a simple multi exposure collage. I simply chose the pictures I wanted, from the various files that they were stored in, and put a hold on them in the included picture tray. Once I had selected the snapshots, I wanted to use, I simply clicked Collage from the buttons across the bottom of the programs front page. From there, I had a choice of three different types of collages, which one happened to be the multi exposure I was interested in. I was able to use two or more snapshots, though I was limited on any real fine-tuning.

Still, the results were fun to see, and I tried several different combinations before I created a collage that might not have been as good as the first one I saw that intrigued me so, but that was nonetheless pretty good if I must say so myself.

If you love to experiment with your digital photos, and are bored with the more basic cropping, contrasts, and red eye removal tools, check to see if your graphics software is capable of helping you create your own multi exposure collage. If not, download Picasa 2 free and try it. Now that I have tried it, I am brimming with numerous ideas for even more collages. Some I might be able to do via Picasa 2, while others might require a more refined graphics program. Either way, I now realize that if I have been missing a technique as interesting and as fun as the Multi Exposure Collage, I wonder what other method of altering digital photographs that I might be missing with just as interesting results. For now though, I have to go and pick up a couple of frames, as the results of my sunrise and sow in the tree turned out so well, I plan to frame and hang one in my living room, and give another one as a gift to friend who enjoys the local bear population as much as I do.

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