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Featured Dodging & Burning with Livetime

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by pdk42, Feb 4, 2019.

  1. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team Subscribing Member

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Back in the days of the darkroom, it was common to use "dodging" and "burning" to hold back or increase the exposure of parts of the paper during enlargement. The idea was to make a small cardboard cut-out that you mounted to a thin metal wire, and which you then waggled between the enlarger and the paper during print exposure. That way, you could increase or reduce the exposure of certain parts of the image so as balance the DR on the final print. It was very common as a technique to bring up the foreground to better match the sky on landscape shots. There is a Wikipedia write-up of it here:

    Dodging and burning - Wikipedia

    Using the Livetime feature on Olympus cameras you can achieve the same effect at capture time. I used the technique on the shot below:

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    Sprague Lake by Paul Kaye, on Flickr

    The sky was quite bright and the lake was dark. I wanted to get the exposure on the lake up. I could have done it with stacking, but I wanted a long exposure to smooth the lake's surface and stacking long exposure shots take A LOT of time. I could have perhaps lifted the shadows in PP, but then you're fighting noise and of course there's a limit to what's possible anyhow. So, this is what I did:
    • I installed a big-stop ND filter on the camera (10-stop in this case). The camera was on a tripod of course.

    • Set exposure to livetime with a 2 second increment on the setting. A day-time exposure with a 10-stop ND and f5.6 or f8 is usually around 20-30s so with 2s you'll get about 10-15 updates.

    • Before starting the exposure, I held a black mask (in this case the black fabric wallet for the filters !) just in front on the lens so that it was obscuring the sky.

    • I started the exposure (remote release from my phone).

    • I wiggled the filter wallet around to prevent a hard line and watched the image build on the screen. At this point, it was only the lake that was building.

    • By observing the building image, I could adjust the position of the mask to allow the lake surface to build its exposure. I would occasionally move the mask away briefly to let some of the sky come in so that I could judge the balance better.

    • When the lake was nicely exposed, I took the mask away entirely and waited until the sky was cooked. The histogram helps to prevent it going too far.
    It takes a bit of practice to get the technique right, but it's not hard and definitely well worth it. The shape of the mask I use is usually just straight, but you could obviously make it more sophisticated by cutting something that matches better the scene. Personally I don't go to this level of complexity, but it would increase the technique's power.

    Voila! I use it quite a lot. Here are some other examples:

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    Winter Light in Bruges by Paul Kaye, on Flickr

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    Seaweed & Castles by Paul Kaye, on Flickr

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    The Weir in Winter by Paul Kaye, on Flickr

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    The House Beyond the Quay by Paul Kaye, on Flickr

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    Bow Bridge, Central Park III by Paul Kaye, on Flickr
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2019
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  2. rich.smith

    rich.smith Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 21, 2011
    Wow. Just beautiful. Thanks for sharing.
    • Agree Agree x 4
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  3. Hendrik

    Hendrik Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Feb 27, 2015
    Wayland MA
    Great stuff! Thanks for sharing the technique.
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  4. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    Just amazing, amazing stuff.
    • Agree Agree x 2
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  5. kwido

    kwido Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 28, 2016
    Bratislava , Slovakia
    Very nice and inspiring. One can get similar result with full ND1000 + grad ND filter. But your aproche is more flexible and you have better control. I have to try it. Thanks a lot for explanation and beutiful examples.
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  6. ripleys baby

    ripleys baby Part time philistine

    Aug 10, 2011
    Who'd have thought !
    Thanks for the info. Great shots.
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
  7. alan1972

    alan1972 Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Jun 23, 2012
    Malaga, Spain
    Alan Grant
    Just adding my thanks for the explanation. I have done something similar with Live Composite to mask an unavoidable bright static light within the frame (e.g. when trying to capture the light of moving cars and one car comes to a stop with headlights pointing at the camera!), but I hadn't thought through how it could be applied to Live Time. The point about moving the mask to avoid hard lines makes perfect sense now that you say it, but I'm not sure I would have thought of it.
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  8. Fantastic!
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
  9. M.V.

    M.V. Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 16, 2017
    Slovenia, Europe
    Amazing technique, many thanks for sharing this!!
    BTW, your Bruges photos (displayed also in other threads here) look like the paintings of old Dutch masters. Respect!!!!
    • Agree Agree x 6
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  10. robcee

    robcee Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 10, 2016
    New Brunswick, Canada
    Rob Campbell
    great images!
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
  11. Sawdust

    Sawdust Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Apr 5, 2018
    Missouri, USA
    Just. Wow.
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
  12. denniscloutier

    denniscloutier Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 24, 2011
    North Saanich, B.C.
    Very cool. A technique that is old school and high tech at the same time.

    You mentioned brightening areas by stacking. I think I might understand what you're talking about but could you explain this a bit?

    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
  13. StephenB

    StephenB Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Aug 29, 2018
    Somerset UK
    That is a great technique you've mastered, and the final images are wonderful.

    Edit: just had a look at the manual, couldn't find Livetime in the search, but could find it using 2 words 'live time' - just thought that might help anyone else looking for the details of how to use it, matching the manual to your examples made better sense to the mechanics of your shots, technique and scenic skill is another matter altogether :) 
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2019
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  14. DennyVanNostrand

    DennyVanNostrand Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 3, 2018
    Another example of M43 greatness. Beautiful work.
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
  15. tonyturley

    tonyturley Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 19, 2014
    Fantastic work.
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
  16. Kalifornier

    Kalifornier Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Apr 29, 2014
    Very informative!
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
  17. BamaBoy

    BamaBoy Mu-43 Regular

    Gee, I don't mind being redundant.... WOW, WOW, WOW ! What a GREAT technique; am saving your entire explanation of technique as soon as I finish this redundant post.
    • Agree Agree x 2
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  18. Gillymaru

    Gillymaru Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Thanks for the informative post Paul and sharing your beautiful photographs
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  19. I've done quite a bit of dodging and burning (B&W printing), many years ago (over 50yrs), and would Never have thought of trying it with Live time!
    Absolutely brilliant, thanks!
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  20. gwydionjhr

    gwydionjhr Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Nov 7, 2017
    Great write up and fantastic pictures!

    Do any of the Pany cameras support something similar?
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
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