Tip: Custom composition grids using mult-exposure mode

Started Aug 2, 2019 | Discussions
Horshack Veteran Member • Posts: 8,680
Tip: Custom composition grids using mult-exposure mode
17

While learning the Panasonic S1 I discovered its "sheer overlay" feature, which allows you to pick an image on the camera's media card as a transparent overlay that is displayed on the EVF/LCD while you compose photographs. The first thought that came to mind was how useful the feature would be for creating and using custom compositional grids, such as a golden rule ratio overlay. Other applications are custom aspect-ratio grids, level grids, creative layout ideas, etc...

Then I discovered you can do the same thing on the Z's but with a little more effort. Nikon has had a multiple exposure mode on their cameras for some time but on the Z it's finally supported in Live View mode (out of necessity). Two features of Nikon's implementation are 1) the ability to specify the first image of the multi-exposure and 2) previewing the cumulative multi-exposure as an overlay in LV. Combine those two together and you have something that approximates the Panasonic's "sheer overlay" feature.

First, using your Z, take a photo (raw) of the custom compositional grid you want to use. I chose a golden rule spiral grid, which I obtained from here.

Then go into the Shooting -> Multiple Exposure menu:

Multiple exposure menu

Set the mode to ON, the number of shots to 2, the "Keep all exposures" to ON and "Overlay shooting to ON. Then select the custom compositional grid you shot as the first exposure:

Selecting first exposure as the overlay

You're all set. Now return to shooting by half-pressing the shutter and you'll see your selected grid image overlaid on your LV feed:

LV feed with multiple-exposure overlay

When you take a photo the camera will generate two images - a mult-exposure that combines your custom grid and the actual scene , and more usefully, just the actual scene.

Here is a quick video demonstrating the entire process:

Few caveats:

  • The camera resets your overlay image after you take the multiple-exposure, so you have to go back into the menu and choose it again
  • When taking your custom compositional grid photo, use a bright exposure so that it will be clearly visible when used as an overlay even against bright scenes.
FinePix S1
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fft2000 Contributing Member • Posts: 943
Re: Tip: Custom composition grids using mult-exposure mode
1

You do realise that cutting off parts of the spiral won't give you the true golden ratio?

Also I think those composition helper overlays are of little use. I realised that it forces me to place subjects in a certain way often leading to suboptimal compostitions. I occasionally enable some kind of grid if I have a naturally slightly tilted horizon to see if the image still works when I straighten the horizon.

briantilley
briantilley Veteran Member • Posts: 5,755
Re: Tip: Custom composition grids using mult-exposure mode
7

fft2000 wrote:

You do realise that cutting off parts of the spiral won't give you the true golden ratio?

Also I think those composition helper overlays are of little use.

Maybe not - but for anyone who does want to make use of such an aid, it's surely worth knowing how it can be achieved with a Z6/Z7...?

I think the OP deserves thanks

I realised that it forces me to place subjects in a certain way often leading to suboptimal compostitions. I occasionally enable some kind of grid if I have a naturally slightly tilted horizon to see if the image still works when I straighten the horizon.

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OP Horshack Veteran Member • Posts: 8,680
Re: Tip: Custom composition grids using mult-exposure mode
6

fft2000 wrote:

You do realise that cutting off parts of the spiral won't give you the true golden ratio?

Also I think those composition helper overlays are of little use. I realised that it forces me to place subjects in a certain way often leading to suboptimal compostitions. I occasionally enable some kind of grid if I have a naturally slightly tilted horizon to see if the image still works when I straighten the horizon.

So you're saying because I was a bit sloppy with my demonstration photo of the golden rule grid and shaved maybe 50-100 pixels off the sides it's no longer useful as a compositional guide, and even if I hadn't been sloppy and shot it perfectly you still think such overlays aren't useful in shooting. And you posted this to a thread whose title was meant to appeal to those who presumably do like to use composition guides.

Mako2011
MOD Mako2011 Forum Pro • Posts: 27,430
Doesn't...
5

fft2000 wrote:

You do realise that cutting off parts of the spiral won't give you the true golden ratio?

That actually has little negative effects regards the positive use the OP was pointing to

Also I think those composition helper overlays are of little use.

In your case that may be true.  For others it will be false.  Pros and Cons

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My opinions are my own and not those of DPR or its administration. They carry no 'special' value (except to me and Lacie of course)

JimKasson
JimKasson Forum Pro • Posts: 33,459
Kudos
6

Great idea. I myself find anything beyond the grid in the camera unhelpful -- with the exception of the crop that you need to fit the image to, if you're in a Procrustean situation -- but it shows inventive thinking, and I can think of other overlays that would be useful to me.

What a great aid in setting up equivalence demos!

Jim

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olyflyer
olyflyer Forum Pro • Posts: 27,308
Re: Tip: Custom composition grids using mult-exposure mode
2

fft2000 wrote:

You do realise that cutting off parts of the spiral won't give you the true golden ratio?

Does it matter if it not 100% accurate? Those are for guidance and not to be regarded as an absolute truth anyway.

Also I think those composition helper overlays are of little use.

For you maybe. But for me not. I have used the grid ever since I bought the D300s 13 years ago and I find it very helpful in many ways. Composition is just one.

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fft2000 Contributing Member • Posts: 943
Re: Doesn't...

Mako2011 wrote:

fft2000 wrote:

You do realise that cutting off parts of the spiral won't give you the true golden ratio?

That actually has little negative effects regards the positive use the OP was pointing to

Then why not just use the already existing rule of thirds and move the subject a little more towards the corner?

Another issue (if you are accurate with photographing the spiral) is that it requires you to shoot in that exact aspect ratio. Don't know how the camera handles that case, but you might end up shooting different spirals in 2:3, 16:9, 1:1 and so on and load the correct one when you change aspect ratio.

Also I think those composition helper overlays are of little use.

In your case that may be true. For others it will be false. Pros and Cons

Yes, maybe that's the case. I just wanted to point out the issue with the incorrect golden ratio that was used. The problem is that there are many different compositinoal guidelines that end up with the main subject (slightly) off-center. Why not just place it"somewhere" around there? Especially if the point isn't there where it should be

OP Horshack Veteran Member • Posts: 8,680
Re: Kudos
2

JimKasson wrote:

Great idea. I myself find anything beyond the grid in the camera unhelpful -- with the exception of the crop that you need to fit the image to, if you're in a Procrustean situation -- but it shows inventive thinking, and I can think of other overlays that would be useful to me.

What a great aid in setting up equivalence demos!

Jim

Thanks Jim. Yep, it's very useful for matching up the framing when doing lens comparisons. I've already used it for that the other day!

Mako2011
MOD Mako2011 Forum Pro • Posts: 27,430
Could

fft2000 wrote:

Mako2011 wrote:

fft2000 wrote:

You do realise that cutting off parts of the spiral won't give you the true golden ratio?

That actually has little negative effects regards the positive use the OP was pointing to

Then why not just use the already existing rule of thirds and move the subject a little more towards the corner?

You could...and that to would not negate the positive aspects of the OP's approach

Also I think those composition helper overlays are of little use.

In your case that may be true. For others it will be false. Pros and Cons

Yes, maybe that's the case. I just wanted to point out the issue with the incorrect golden ratio that was used.

Not sure that's accurate given it's just an example.  "Close enough for gov't work"

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OP Horshack Veteran Member • Posts: 8,680
Mult-exposure uses for in-camera creative effects
5

Beside the ability to select photographs for overlays to use as guides, photographs can also be used for in-camera creative effects on the final image. For example, I created the following gradient pattern in photoshop then shot this photograph of my screen with the Z6:

Gradient created in PS and then photographed with Z6

I made sure to defocus the lens a bit when shooting the screen to prevent any pixel-level artifacts in the resulting multi-exposure. Then used it to create a digital GND effect by selecting it as the first shot in a 2-shot multi-exposure (animated GIF before/after - click "original size" to animate, or click direct link here):

Before/After of using gradient photo with 2-shot multi-exposure. Click "original size" to animate.

Other in-camera effects could include borders, color filters/tints, stencils, watermarks. Note that the generated multi-exposure is a JPG, which is fitting since we're looking to generate an in-camera effect but bad if you'd like to edit the result further.

dyuriar
dyuriar New Member • Posts: 11
Re: Tip: Custom composition grids using mult-exposure mode
1

Thank you, Horshack for your time & effort in sharing this useful tool/method.

This will come in handy on occasion, and at the very least, opens thinking outside the box.  It is easy in photography to get stuck in a rut.

I appreciate the ND use also.

While it is true there is nothing new under the sun, not everyone may be aware of all the various shooting methods available.  Your post is appreciated.

Thanks again & good shooting.

-_dave_

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ziadgomaa New Member • Posts: 1
Re: Tip: Custom composition grids using mult-exposure mode

How did you get spiral ratio grid (NEF) Raw format? i don't find it anywhere, that one you mentioned doesn't work. it's (JEPJ) Please help!

OP Horshack Veteran Member • Posts: 8,680
Re: Tip: Custom composition grids using mult-exposure mode
1

ziadgomaa wrote:

How did you get spiral ratio grid (NEF) Raw format? i don't find it anywhere, that one you mentioned doesn't work. it's (JEPJ) Please help!

I found a grid online and displayed it on my computer monitor, then photographed it with the camera.

Hasa
Hasa Senior Member • Posts: 1,470
Re: Tip: Custom composition grids using mult-exposure mode

ziadgomaa wrote:

How did you get spiral ratio grid (NEF) Raw format? i don't find it anywhere, that one you mentioned doesn't work. it's (JEPJ) Please help!

https://duckduckgo.com/?t=ffnt&q=golden+ratio+spiral&atb=v211-1&iax=images&ia=images

duckduckgo is a search engine that does not profit of and save your searches like google.

Basically just search for: "golden ratio spiral" and select images in google.

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Abhay Parvate Forum Member • Posts: 56
Re: Tip: Custom composition grids using mult-exposure mode

These days I watch for the overall feel for the balance of the image rather than placing the subject at a specific location (and if there is indeed only one primary subject).

For the few times that I may lazily want to use the thirds rule, there is a much simpler trick. Being mirrorless we have focus points all over the view. You just have to count how much you need to move the focus point from the center to your desired specific spot in the frame. For the thirds rule, for the Z6, with all focus points in use in the single point focus area, with full frame crop, this happens to be roughly four places horizontal and two places vertical from the center. Whether you go left or right, up or down, depends on which of the four points you want.

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