Milky Way Double Exposure With The eMotimo Spectrum St4

Sep 19, 2016

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.

Milky Way Double Exposure With The eMotimo Spectrum St4

Sep 19, 2016

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.

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Milky Way Double Exposure With the emotimo spectrum

A couple weeks ago I was sitting on the top of a cliff in the dark setting up an eMotimo Spectrum St4 to test out the new gigapixel feature – and I ended up with an unexpected surprise.

Due to user error, I photographed a sequence of photos where the Spectrum’s movement was out of sync with the camera shutter – resulting in the Spectrum moving to the next image in the sequence while the shutter was open.

This resulted in images that have a cool double exposure effect – and its got me thinking about a whole bunch of other ways to intentionally re-create this effect with the Spectrum…

Milky Way Galaxy Double Exposure

First of all, lets look at how I screwed up the original image – which resulted in these fluke milky way double exposures.

This was my first time using the new gigapixel feature on the Spectrum, so I was figuring out the setup in the field, in the dark – without a manual. The first gigapixel sequence I programmed in, I set up my camera as I normally would for time lapse and had no trouble stick handling through the gigapixel setup (eMotimo’s user interface is amazingly user friendly and intuitive).

My shutter speed was 15 seconds on the camera at f/1.4 and ISO 1600 with a Nikon D800 and Sigma 35mm f/1.4 ART lens.

However, because it was nearly pitch black, I was using live view to preview the extents of the frame (part of the gigapixel setup) and check focus. When I hit run for the gigapixel sequence I forgot that the camera was still in live view mode – which resulted in a delay between captures – which caused the shutter release and camera movements to get out of sync.

An abstract double exposure of the Milky Way galactic centre made by moving the camera during capture.

About half way through the sequence, the camera would expose one part of the sky for about half of the 15 second exposure, then the Spectrum would quickly move to it’s next position (set to 50% overlap) and expose the next part of the sky for the remaining half of the 15 second exposure.

Technically, this isn’t a true double exposure – but the effect is similar.

An abstract double exposure of the Milky Way galactic centre made by moving the camera during capture.

What’s really interesting is because the Spectrum is a robotic motion control system, the resulting images are not a shaky jumbled mess – the camera remained stable even though it moved a significant amount right in the middle of the capture.

What’s also interesting is because the movement was done at ludicrous speed (watch the gigapixel promo video) only light from the brightest objects tracked with the movement – while the light from rest of the stars burned in while the camera was stationary.

Next Time It Will Be On Purpose!

This has given me all kinds of ideas about how I could set up the Spectrum to take advantage of controlled movement during long exposures.

For example, with a slow continuous movement, you could mimic star trails and then use a strobe to expose for a subject or focal point. Or, with the Spectrum’s ability to record and precisely playback live motion movements up to eight seconds long, you could create specific shapes or patterns.

An abstract double exposure of the Milky Way galactic centre made by moving the camera during capture.

What Do You Think?

Have you ever tried intentional camera movement with long exposures?

How do you think a robotic motion control system like the eMotimo Spectrum St4 could be used to create new long exposure possibilities? What would you do with it?

Do you even like the effect – or does it still just look like a confusing jumble of stars?

Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!

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JP Danko

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.

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