Go forth and multiply!

The multiple exposure mode on your Fujifilm X Series cameras is probably one of those functions that you know is there, but you’ve never really tried. You might have dismissed it as a little gimmicky, or perhaps just not thought that you could put it to much use. But trust me, this function is a highly-addictive way of taking images.

The good news is, every X Series model has the feature so you’ve really no excuse not to give it a whirl. Exactly how you access it will vary from model to model, but you should find the icon – two overlapping rectangles – in the Drive menu, the Adv. setting or, as on the X-T2 I used, the Drive dial on the top-plate.

Once you’ve selected the mode, the process of picture taking is simple. Point it at your first subject and take a picture. The camera will then give you the option to Retry the shot if you’re not entirely happy by pressing the left button on the rear quadrant or move on to the next shot  by pressing OK.

When you press OK, you’ll see that the original shot appears as a ghost image on the rear LCD or in the viewfinder so you can frame the second more accurately. You may also want to change the exposure with the exposure compensation dial, so you get a decent balance between the two exposures. That, essentially, is it. Once you’ve taken the second image you again get the chance to reshoot if you’re not happy, or press OK to save the file. Images are only saved as JPEGs.

The skill (and fun) comes in working out what combinations work best and the more you use the multiple exposure mode, the more you’ll realise the creative opportunities you have. Generally speaking, I found that combining a texture on the first frame with a subject in the second frame can render great results. The textures can be almost anything – I’ve used carpets, tarmac, wood and brickwork as starting points. It’s important that these textures are evenly lit, which is why you should shoot these multiple exposures on overcast days. The other option is to shoot combinations of subjects that complement one another, or the complete opposite. You really can let your imagination run wild.

Once you’ve captured your images, you may need to apply some further tweaks in Photoshop or Lightroom. For ideas or inspiration, take a look at these images, then get out there and give it a go yourself. I guarantee you’ll have a whale of a time.

My first shot here was a concrete inspection cover, then I cropped in tightly on this thatched cottage for an old world look. In Lightroom, I lifted the colours slightly using the Vibrance slider.

This church graveyard had some tombstones covered in ivy. I captured those first, then turned to capture one of the windows – I’m really pleased with this effect, which I further enhanced using the Bleach Bypass preset in Lightroom. Don’t know how to use presets? You can find details in my recent How to video.

This spooky-looking door was created by photographing a weathered wooden door and then this entrance door. Turning to Lightroom, I then applied the Yesteryear preset to make it look like a photograph from the 1800s.

Straight from the camera, this image is a simple combination of a Neighbourhood Watch sign with a warning to motorists to slow down. It’s all rather Big Brother, but the juxtaposition of the two shots works nicely, I think.

A night with the stars

There’s something very special about taking photographs at night. Aside from the challenges of working in low light, successful images reveal things that our eyes don’t ordinarily see; the result of working with lengthy exposures that can run into seconds and often minutes. For me, the ultimate example of this is a star trail, which is why you’ll often find see me heading out when darkness falls.

Before you shoot a star trail, you need to do some groundwork. First, Continue reading A night with the stars

Black & white conversions – Lightroom tutorial video

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Roger Payne explains how to take a colour image and use Lightroom to convert it into a contrasty black & white shot Continue reading Black & white conversions – Lightroom tutorial video

Add life to your landscapes – The Graduated Filter Tool

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Using a Fujifilm Raw file, Roger Payne explains how to give your landscapes a boost with Lightroom’s Graduated Filter Tool Continue reading Add life to your landscapes – The Graduated Filter Tool

Get your buildings straight – Lightroom tutorial video

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Continuing his series of quick and simple Lightroom techniques to improve your Fujifilm images, Roger explains how to get around the common problem of backward-leaning buildings. Continue reading Get your buildings straight – Lightroom tutorial video

A beginners guide to Lightroom – Post-production

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Start working on your images in Lightroom using this simple how to guide. Roger Payne takes you through some very simple steps to get you on the road to better post production

If you missed Roger’s first tutorial on importing images into Lightroom, watch it here.

A beginners guide to Lightroom – Importing your photos

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In this short video Roger Payne guides you through importing your images into Lightroom and how to organise them once they get there.

To learn about beginner post-production techniques within Lightroom click here.

(Soft)box of tricks

How a cardboard box can be turned into a useful light modifier for the grand sum of 60p

I was in my garage the other day and realised something; it’s full of empty cardboard boxes. It’s a shocking confession I know, but what with eBay and other things you just never know when you might need a box, right? The 53 I counted, however, maybe considered a little excessive. I started to think whether I could trim the numbers down a little and my mind drifted to the fact that I’d been taking some flash images a couple of weeks earlier where I’d been a little disappointed by the harshness of the direct flash light. Within moments, a plan was hatched.

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After a root around in the section of the garage not populated with cardboard, plus the kitchen drawers, I ended up with this selection of goodies with which I decided to make a softbox:

  • 1x small cardboard box
  • 1x roll of kitchen foil
  • 1x roll of electrician’s tape
  • 1x pair of scissors
  • 1x flashgun (I’m using an EF-42)
  • 3x sheets of tracing paper at 20p a sheet
  • 1x bottle of glue (optional)

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I started by placing the flashgun in a central position on the box and drawing around it to give me an approximate shape of the flash head.

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Grabbing the scissors, I cut the shape out, going slightly inside the lines I’d drawn to make sure that the head fitted through snugly. 

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Confident my cutting skills had progressed from primary school, I taped the sides of the box down. They could have been cut off, of course, but I preferred to tape them down to create slightly more robust sides to the box.

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I used a couple of lengths of foil to coat the inside of the box. This could be glued down if you wish, but the nature of foil meant that it moulded to the shape nicely and stayed put. There’s no need to smooth it down, just as long as the light can happily reflect around, you’re fine.

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Having covered up the hole in the box, I then cut a second hold through the foil and pushed the flash head back through.

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Putting the box to one side, I took a sheet of the tracing paper and folded it in half to provide the diffusing panel for the front of my softbox. As it transpired, I only needed the one sheet, but you could use more if you wanted an even softer result.

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The tracing paper was then taped on all four sides of the box leaving it ready for action.

Now, it’s pretty evident that my box had a flaw in that it covered up the AF illuminator. As I was only working in dim light, this wasn’t an issue, but if you want to shoot in pitch black you’re going to struggle. There are no worries about metering, though, the X-T2 I was shooting with has TTL metering so I could be sure of accurate exposures.

So, just how good was my softbox? I’d say the results speak for themselves:

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This first image was taken without the softbox attached. As I was close to the subject with the EF-42 flash mounted on the camera’s hot-shoe, there’s an issue with coverage. The flash hasn’t illuminated the bottom part of the frame very well, plus the shadows behind the soft toy are very harsh. All in all, not the best.

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With my softbox in place, however, there’s a real improvement. The coverage is much more even and the shadows are far less harsh.

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But this shot is arguably even better, created by pointing the flashgun, with softbox attached, straight to the ceiling. It’s created a lovely even top light to the toy, which looks more like studio lighting than a flashgun with a cardboard box stuck on it.

Not bad for 60p and 30 minutes of my time, is it?