181117 Stacks - matthew piers robertson • photography writing creative toronto

One technique I've been trying is to create long exposures by stacking a series of shorter exposures together with a "lighten" blend mode. I use Lighten instead of averaging the frames because I want to emphasize light trails; sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't. 

Stacking these photos without software alignment left them just a little fuzzy. The big tripod was on soft sand with a strong onshore wind, so it's not its fault. Stacking them with auto-alignment enabled created these.

Clearly, Affinity Photo hates long exposures with moving clouds and stochastically sparkly bits of water. It simply can't figure out that the lights in the building should be adjusted to match up, and let the rest fall where it wants to. That's a lot to ask.

I haven't checked to see if the alignment can be done manually. Perhaps I should, but there's not actually enough going on in these photos to be worth the effort of creating a single "straight" photo from the 57, 40, and 22 images that went into each. I know that because one of the auto-alignment routines did work, and the results weren't worth keeping.

This last photo, taken during one of the CN Tower's hourly light shows, is my favourite of the series. Next time I'll time it more carefully to catch the entire show, as this only covers the final few minutes of it. But wanting the auto-alignment to fail just guarantees that it will perform flawlessly, I know. I take public transit often enough to get how this works.

The first image in this post is the longest of them, covering about eighteen minutes of camera time. From beginning to end of taking these three photos is about forty minutes. So if you're wondering what the camera is doing when I take breaks, this is it – but I also carry another camera to use at the same time. Right now it's a Big-Little pair, because that's what I own, but in the future I want to have a matched pair of Good Cameras to use at times like this.

And then hopefully random events and oddball quirks will continue to create interesting results.