For this exercise, rather than concentrating on just one technique I decided to try a variety of approaches: long exposure, handheld; long exposure, tripod mounted; moving camera; multiple exposure, handheld; and, multiple exposure, tripod mounted. Some were more successful than others (quite a lot of shots did not work out at all well so that only those that were to some extent successful have been included below) and clearly a lot more practice would be required to get consistently good results. I did look in Diprose & Robbins, 2012 (p. 129) for some technical guidance on multiple exposures but all they had to offer was “This requires a considerable amount of experimentation to adjust the expose of the images so that they balance each other”. Really helpful!
All pictures were taken with a 50mm 1.14 lens. ISO 100.
Long exposure, handheld
These were both taken at 1/5s, f/16 and f/14 respectively. Some blur comes just from the slow shutter speed (well below 1/60s) and some from the movement of the dog.
Long exposure, tripod mounted
For these I deliberately chose a variety of shutter speeds to be able to compare result.
Clearly, as the exposure time lengthened then so did the image become more blurred and faint. The other thing that obviously happens is that the images becomes increasingly overexposed. At such a long time as this exposure compensation, even set to the maximum underexposure possible (on my camera five full stops) does not appear to assist.
Both 1/5s, f/20 and f/14 respectively. Results from moving the camera itself were more hit or miss but did have the virtue of blurring the entire scene, rather than just the subject.
Multiple exposure, handheld
For all of these the camera was set to layer six separate exposures. In the process of experimenting I discovered that each shot has to be taken separately and that the burst function does not work with multiple exposure.
The problem with multiple exposures as with very slow shutter speeds is that the image tends to be overexposed. This was though improved by drastically increasing shutter speed. Shooting handheld and having to take each shot individually introduced an extra degree of blurring as the camera inevitably moved slightly between shots. to take this to an extreme, in the last image above I deliberately moved the camera between shots to blur the background even more while making the moving subject appear to be a little more static rather than moving.
Multiple exposure, tripod mounted
The obvious way to get round camera movement between shots was to use a tripod.
Even at a high shutter speed overexposure is still a problem and produces only a ghosted image.
This one though is much more successful having simply moved the point of view. The image is still somewhat ghostly but much clearer. An unintended consequence of shooting from this perspective is that there is an additional sense of ambiguity in so far as it is not immediately other the subject is in from of the door/window frames, or is seen through the glass (it is in fact the former).
Which do I prefer? The multiple exposure function can create an interesting effect but is quite difficult to get right and I have not yet explored it in sufficient depth. The most immediate approach is simply to use long exposures without a tripod and this is the one I probably prefer, not least because it puts control back in my hands and offers a greater degree of flexibility. It is, dare I say it, more real or ‘authentic’.
Diprose, G & Robins, J (2012). Photography: The New Basics (Principles, Techniques and Practice). London: Thames & Hudson