Help Im stuck - Live composite for Long Exposure??

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by woollyback, Oct 18, 2016 at 6:44 AM.

  1. woollyback

    woollyback Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 20, 2015
    Real Name:
    Hello all,

    I am looking to do some long exposure water type stuff using a ND filter.

    How would I use the live composite feature for this - I cant seem to grasp it.

    The first shutter press takes a normal exposure and subsequent shutter press kicks off multiple exposures which are composited in camera

    Would the initial nor mal exposure be without the ND filter and if so what purpose does it serve?

    I must be missing something obvious

    Thanks for any advice

  2. alan1972

    alan1972 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 23, 2012
    Malaga, Spain
    Real Name:
    Alan Grant
    Firstly, Live Composite may or may not be the best solution for this type of exposure. Sometimes a single long exposure with the ND filter is just as good or better. If you wish you can use Live Time (a completely separate thing to Live Composite) to decide the length of this exposure by viewing how it changes in real time (although there is a limit on how many frames can be displayed). Live Time doesn't change the actual photo compared to simply manually setting a slow shutter speed - the only difference is that you decide the exposure length during rather than before the exposure. If you have not tried long exposures with ND filters before, it is probably worth getting used to this method (single long exposure, no compositing) before moving on to Live Composite.

    Assuming you do want to try Live Composite, it is important to understand that you will never actually see the result of the first shutter press - it does not get saved in a way that is visible to the photographer. I think it is used to help with noise reduction. You want this to have the same exposure as the "real" photo, so you should have the ND filter already on.

    The second shutter press then triggers a series of identical exposures, and composites them by taking the brightest value of each pixel across all exposures. If nothing at all is moving or changing in brightness in the scene, the final composite photo will be identical to the first one in the sequence. If some areas become darker but no areas become brighter, again the composite will simply be equal to the first in the sequence. But if some areas are brighter at some times than others, the composite will show these areas as bright. So if you have generally dark water but with white foamy waves moving across it, you will typically see an increasingly large white area as successive exposures capture the white waves in different parts of the frame.

    A nice thing about Live Composite is that the viewfinder will keep on updating to show the current exposure for as long as the exposure is running (which is limited only by battery power). So unlike Live Time you can always base your decision about when to stop the exposure on up-to-date information.

    Also it allows very long exposures without "burning out" highlights as the exposures are not added together. But it can also introduce odd effects compared to an ordinary long exposure (e.g. depending on the speed things are moving you might see evidence of the gaps between exposures, or if people wearing bright clothing move across the scene you might see something like a ghostly pair of white trousers appearing repeatedly across the frame.

    All in all the only way to really figure it out is to practice - ideally starting in a situation where the results are not important! For example you can easily get an idea of how Live Composite works by moving a flashlight or phone LED around in a dimly lit room.

    I hope that helps, if anything was not clear ask again.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  3. woollyback

    woollyback Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 20, 2015
    Real Name:

    Thank you so much for the very detailed reply

    It is the live time option I need as I want to see the exposure develop and end it once correct exposure is achieved. My experience with ND is that once you commit to a long exposure it's a bummer if you could have done with an extra few seconds Once you view it on the screen once completed

    I will do a bit of digging re live time - any tips you can share would be great

    Thanks again

  4. runner girl

    runner girl Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 26, 2011
    image. I use ND filters for Live Composite a lot. I find I can get good results with a weaker filter and don't get the blown out highlights. I do a bunch of wave action shots and clouds at sunrise shots. I can always see how they are "developing" and stop them when I'm satisfied.
  5. Bill R

    Bill R Mu-43 Rookie

    Feb 25, 2016