Multiplicity Photography How To

Multiplicity photography is taking multiple photos of a person, animal, or other object in the exact same scene. Editing software is then used to combine those images, so that it looks like there are multiple copies of the person in various poses in the photo. This tutorial goes step by step through how to create a multiplicity photo.

Here's an example of a mulitplicity photo, of me holding a yoga class in my back yard, with lots of my clones :).

Multiplicity Photography How To

So how do you do this?

This isn't about taking one photo and then cutting-and-pasting the person around. The person has to actually be in different poses and locations for this to be considered a multiplicity photo. So here's a comparison. This image below is NOT a multiplicity photo. Instead, it only involved two images. One was the young man looking up at the tower. The other was him standing in an open field, which I used as my base. I then cut and paste that, a bunch of times, along the tower steps.

Multiplicity Photography How To

So we're aiming for the top result, not this second result.

STEP 1 - CAMERA ON TRIPOD
It is critical that your camera NOT move during this process, because every photo needs to be taken from the exact same angle, with the exact same items in the photo. So put the camera on a tripod. Just resting it on a ledge won't work well because it will shift when you press the button and work with it. Make sure you set it to all manual settings. You don't want the camera refocusing or changing its light balance. Choose the settings you want, with as wide a field of focus as possible. Then lock it in.

STEP 2 - TAKE THE PHOTOS
You either need to have a friend to push the button in each pose, or you need to have a timer and run back and forth. I did the yoga photo by myself with a timer. I set my Canon S100 to wait 20 seconds and then take 3 shots in a row. That way I had a trio of images to choose from for each pose.

Go fairly quickly. Lighting conditions will change, which will impact the result of the photo.

STEP 3 - BRING IMAGES INTO PHOTOSHOP
Whatever photo package you use is fine - I happen to use Photoshop. Your software needs to be able to handle layers. So in the yoga example, here's some of the photos I was working with.

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These all stacked in a layer for each photo. Now the trick is to isolate just the person in each photo, and to mask out the rest so that it's invisible.

STEP 4 - MASKING THE IMAGES
Here's how you create the image masks in Photoshop. The steps will be similar in any other imaging software you might use.

Go to the very top layer in the stack. The one that's visible. Click on Layer - Layer Mask - Reveal All. This starts with a mask that shows the entire image. Click to select that mask. Now choose a brush in the color BLACK. Your two choices are black and white for the mask. Zoom in and paint over just the person. You don't have to be too detailed right now. Rough edges is OK - you can hone it later. When you've painted over the person fully, use CONTROL-I. This is the "inverse" command - i.e. it selects everything EXCEPT what you had painted in. That is all the background. This process is quicker and easier than painting out the entire background.

You should be able to now see just that person - and then the next level of the image.

So work your way down the stack, doing this to each layer.

Multiplicity Photography How To

Enjoy!

Here's the multiplicity I did of a hula hoop :).

Multiplicity Photography How To

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