Rafa Ortiz, Indus River, Pakistan.
Nikon D200, Nikkor 50mm 1.8 @ 1/1250 F7.1 ISO 100.
In my opinion it's rare that a kayaking shot is worth
sequencing. Most of the time one image tells the story, but not on all
occasions. The process of putting together a sequence is one of the
less understood so I feel it deserves some attention. I've never taken
Photoshop classes and am sure there are people better at this than I,
so please remember that I'm illustrating how I put sequences together,
there are other and possibly better ways, but this works for me. This
process takes a lot of computer processing power, especially if you
While high speed sports need a 10fps camera to do
sequences, boaters tend to be moving at a slower pace. 2.5 fps (frames
per second) is often adequate, and I generally have to skip frames from
5fps sequences, because the paddler tends to overlap. It would be
easiest to do a sequence using a tripod, but the bulk of one keeps it
out of my boat. Shots eligible for sequencing have the paddler moving
across the frame while the camera is held in one position. Shooting
waterfalls from downstream is an obvious situation that fits the bill.
In this case I'll start with ten shots of Ryan Knight on the South
Branch Feather, but I'll probably only use 4-6 images combined for the
Anything in italics referrers to the menu system in
Step 1: Open and edit all the images at the same time in
photoshop. Use shift-click or ctrl-click to select all the images to be
opened. Once open in the raw editor be sure to click "Select All" in
the top left so we are editing all the files in the same exact way. I
then apply standard editing touches as necessary, in this case +25 Fill
Light, +50 Vibrance, +10 Saturation. Alt-Click to open all and wait
while they load, depending on your computer this might take a while.
Step 2: Adjust the Canvas Size
for the first image in the sequence. Use Alt-Ctrl-C orImage
> Canvas Sizeto open the Canvas Size
dialogue box. We're going to make the canvas a little larger here
because the photographs won't line up perfectly, and this will give us
some breathing room to end up with a larger final image. Switching from
pixels to percent in the drop down menu, I increase my canvas size by
120% width and height.
Step 3: Copy, past and align.
I find the next photo that I want in the sequence, ideally one soon
after the first image, but with the paddler not overlapping. In this
case I skip a shot and go to the third image of the sequence, looks
like it wont overlap and I like that I can see Ryan's face. Ctrl-A orSelect > Allto
select the whole image. Ctrl-C or Edit > Copy to copy the image to
the clipboard. Switch back to the original image tab and Ctrl-V or Edit
> Paste to past the image over the original. Make sure your Layers
window is open via F7 orWindow > Layers. Now that the layers window is
open, adjust the opacity slider to around 50%.
Now find a well defined point
in the photo, in this case I used a crack in the rock. Zoom to 200% and
align the image using the Move Tool, when things look perfect you can't
tell it's at 50% opacity because it looks like the same image,
excepting water which is always changing, ignore the misaligned
splashes. At 200% zoom and 50% opacity it looks like a good line up.
I then zoom back out with
Ctrl-0 (zero) and make sure that Ryan isn't overlapping. If he was I'd
choose the next image in the sequence and start over. He isn't so now
I'll adjust opacity back to 100% and flatten the image viaLayers > Flatten Image.Checking
to make sure Ryan isn't overlapping.
Step 4: History Brush. The
history brush is a tool that works like the Brush tool, but instead of
applying a color, it "brushes in" the image from a previous state in
the image processing history. Select the History Brush from the tools
menu on the left. Make sure your History Window is open;Window > History. In the history window set the
source for the history brush back to where we adjusted the canvas size
by clicking the box next to Canvas Size.
I like to keep my History
Brush hardness set at 0%. This helps things blend in a natural way.
This is adjusted under the brush settings in the top left corner.
Now I bring Ryan back from the
original image into the new one, using the history brush. The larger
the diameter of the brush, the larger radius of softness. If I am
working on two objects close together, I'll make the diameter of the
brush smaller by using the "[" shortcut. Pressing ] increases brush
size respectively. After brushing Ryan in with the history brush, I
increase my brush size and check to make sure that the edge of the
images makes a smooth transition. If things are not perfectly aligned,
using the history brush on sharp edges will clean them up. Once this is
done I save the image and start the process again with the next
appropriate frame, increasing my canvas size as necessary. In this
sequence I ended up using seven of ten images.
Ryan Knight, "99
Problems" on the South Branch of the Middle Fork Feather River. Nikon
D200, Nikon 75-150 "E" @ 150mm 1/1000 F5.6 ISO 100.