Outdoor Long Exposure / Translucent


At first I suspected this was a Photoshop challenge; how to use blending to achieve a translucent effect.  But the challenge actually had nothing to do with Photoshop or blending modes, or layer masks  —  or for that matter any post-processing.  It’s merely a simple way of creating a translucent effect on a person, like a ghost, in camera.

Literally, you just have someone jump out of the frame halfway through a long exposure (or jump in halfway through).  A lot of people did this challenge as a self-portrait; setting the timer so they could jump in and out of the frame themselves.

I asked my model (good-natured husband) to sit on the steps outside the library, with his head down as if deep in thought, or possibly in despair.  I did not want his face to show at all, further encouraging the viewer to have some type of emotion over this photo.


From a technical standpoint, I set the camera at a 10-second exposure, aperture of f/29, ISO 100 on a tripod.  I added a neutral density filter to the lens to further darken the scene overall, so I could get that long exposure I needed.  He sat on the stairs while I took the photo, and about halfway through, he leaped out of the frame, leaving only a ghostlike, translucent effect.  Good thing he’s in good shape; there were quite a few takes…

I purposefully wanted several different textures showing through – the concrete steps, the bricks and the bushes; further encouraging the see-through interest.  From an emotive perspective, the jagged line of the steps showing through the middle of his torso helps further portray  the sense of being “broken”.  Converting to black and white reduced the distractions of many colors, but I left the sky and clouds in color, insinuating a brighter day elsewhere.

Not everyone’s kind of photo, and I get that.  I’m not even sure how else I would use this technique, maybe Halloween??  Or a situation where I’d like to create mystery or a mystical theme?  But for ordinary purposes, probably not much.  This technique was really fun to learn, though, and I’m glad I gave it a try.

Thanks for stopping by my photo blog!


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