Behind the Magic – Merged Sequences

The majority of the time I only aim to take one photo at a time but occasionally I will take a few successive frames which when merged together can make a great sequence.

The keys to making a good sequence are to be relatively side on to the fence, so you can record the horse moving across the jump, good panning skills, not changing the focal length (zoom) mid sequence and preferably a clean background (which will help make editing easier).

The minimum number of photos for a sequence is 2 and the limit is endless (or your camera’s buffer!). If shooting in RAW you are unlikely to probably get more than about 4 or maybe 5 photos depending on your camera. Personally I like 3 if capturing the take off, suspension and landing phases of the jump.

This was one of my earliest (and largest) merges I created back in 2012! Here I combined 9 frames into the sequence. As you can tell the quality of my photography has improved somewhat but it shows what is possible.

So how do I create these sequences? Firstly I edit each individual frame in lightroom so that they all have the same settings including white balance, contrast etc. I then take all the images into Photoshop. I start with the last frame in the sequence. I select the entire image and copy it and create a new file, when you have copied an image Photoshop will offer to create the new file the same size, I keep the height the same but extend the width to accommodate the sequence. If three frames it’s often about 1.5 times the width of the original image.

After pasting the last frame of the sequence into the new document I then copy the one prior and paste that frame on top. I reduce the opacity of the now top layer so that I can move it in to position, I use key features (normally the fence) to line the images up. Next whilst the opacity is still adjusted down I start deleting any areas of background of the top layer that overlap horse and rider in the lower frame. I use a combination of the eraser and the Polygonal Lasso tool to select areas to delete personally, others though use the pen tool. I essentially remove all the background in the way (adjusting the opacity from 100% to 60% ish as required to get all the details) until the horse and rider can be seen. I then tidy up the background utilising a soft brush which can hide any not perfectly aligned edges.

Once the first two layers are done I then add the next frame on top and then repeat the previous steps as necessary.

For each of the following images click on the image to see a larger view.

I would have loved another frame for this sequence to provide a real balance but I still love it.

You can actually use various photo apps who combine images automatically but they don’t generally give clean enough results to be able to print at large sizes because the software cannot correctly judge the edges.

By | 2018-01-30T01:08:31+00:00 January 30th, 2018|Behind The Magic, Equestrian, Latest Updates|0 Comments