Incense

by Bart Arondson

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I recently came upon the image below, and more like them on Stephen Wilke's website, and was wondering how the image was made.

enter image description here

It really seems that there would be some form of post processing, but by the seemless flow of the image, it looks like the edits may have been very complex. Is there a simple way to recreate this style?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 14 down vote accepted

In your question I recognise two parts:

1. How to combine the day/night parts.

Take one photo of the daytime situation, take one photo of the evening situation. Use a tripod for the photos and let it stay there between the shots so the composition stays the same. Another possibility is to tether your camera to a laptop and use the daytime image as an overlay during the night-time shoot. This enables you to replicate the composition as well.

2. How to maintain the seemless flow of the image

By placing the two photos over each other and masking one part of the night photo revealing the day photo (or the other way around) will give you the basic image. From here you need to fine-tune your mask such that the night image flows over into the day image. Gradient masks might help.

Other remarks

The use of a tripod also enables you to shoot with a long shutter time. This is needed such that the cars show a blur, which implies motion. A wide angle lens is needed to capture the whole scene in one go.

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1  
I guess i just over thought what the picture really is; that is quite simple. –  Dylansq May 9 '12 at 5:10
    
do you think that anything in particular invalidates the possibility of it being a panorama, instead of a wideangle image? the building on the back/right is particularly not distorted. –  JoséNunoFerreira May 9 '12 at 21:01
    
I don't see anything that invalidates it, but I think it's unlikely as this complicates the process. If a wide-angle lens is used I guess the photographer corrected for the distortion in post. –  Bart Arondson May 10 '12 at 2:15

I would also consider the composition. In the example there is a very sharp edge close to the middle, making it an obvious switching point from day to night photo. This will help when blending the two images. Finding a good motive and composition might be more important here than for other subjects.

It might also be a good idea to take several photos with different exposures, to easier find matching exposures in post processing. And of course use RAW to make it easier to adjust exposure, white balance and more in post.

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Good point on the sharp edge. –  Eric May 10 '12 at 0:17
  1. Keep the camera at the exact same location on a tripod.
  2. Take a picture during the day.
  3. Take another picture during the night.
  4. Place the Day-Night photo on two layers
  5. Mask the portion of night/day you want to hide.

Since you took the photo on the exact same spot, it will be seamless. Alternatively, you could take two photos and stitch them together too.

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Blending two, or more, photos seems the obvious way to do this.

This could be done by applying variable density gradient masks to two images or much more simply by masking or pasting in selected areas of one image into another and then using an edge blending effect of choice.

Note that in this photos and in all the examples on his page there is either a natural dividing line OR an area of demarcation where quite rapid change occurs.

In the example photo that you provided note that there is some well defined intrusion of one scene into the other's 'space' in some locations.
eg whereas down the building edge the boundary is well enough defined, down on the roaD in the middle the car headligt traces cross the centre line without any 'grading' or reduction in brightness. See crop below -

enter image description here

Note: This extract used in accordance with "fair use" policy as recognised by US and international Copyright law. This note added due to deletion of my prior work due to misunderstanding of "fair-use" by person concerned.

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2  
+1 for the "fair use" note. => –  Lynda May 9 '12 at 16:01

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