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Composite photography: A new twist to an old medium

A picture is worth a thousand words, but what about multiple photos that have been merged together?

The above photo of New York’s Times Square by photographer Peter Funch is a stunning example of composite photography, or multiple photos take over time that have been digitally stitched together.

Equally fascinating photos have been created by (from top to bottom) Tom Mason, Ben Zvan and Ho-Yeol Ryu.

The above photo of a series of planes taking off from a single runway is arresting and like many similar photographs in the genre, was likely created with a good dose of Photoshop.

Composite photography mirrors panoramic imagery in which a series of photos is stitched together to give a wider perspective. Both types of photography can be created digitally, the former by combining a series of photos shot in one location to merge time. A similar effect can be created using multiple exposure or combination printing, both of which are explained in detail here. The result is a single image that more accurately represents the vibrancy of and goings-on at a single location.

The same principles of composite photography can be applied to motion photography as shown in the video below. To illustrate the difficulty of one level of the video game Mario World, 134 attempts to best the round were merged into a single video. The result is both unique and telling and the complex juju required to create the video, a full explanation of which can be found here, is worth a read.

One example of composite photography’s place in the newsroom is this David Bergman’s photo of the recent presidential inauguration. The technique can also be used to enhance sports/action photography, as evidenced in the photo below by wootang71 (more sequence photos can be found here).

It is essential to note that composite photography skirts the line between photograph and illustration and in a news context should be labeled as the latter. However, this shouldn’t discourage photographers from trying the technique and adding a new dimension to their work.


Also on 10,000 Words:

21 Free online photo editing tools
6 Creative approaches to photography
Essential resources for panoramic photography
4 Sites for viewing panoramas (and 3 ways to create them)
12 Creative uses of time-lapse photography (and 4 ways to create it)
Create brilliant multimedia projects from the mundane

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