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The Superpower of Layering

Creative Sources Photography | Atlanta Architectural Photographers

The esteemed philosopher Shrek once mused that ogres, much like onions, have many layers. Their simple appearance, at first glance, belies the complexity beneath. Much in the same vein, an image crafted with layers can look simple, yet can be quite complex. Today’s “peek behind the curtain” will focus upon the magical art of layering images.

Time Keeps on Slippin'...

Of all the advances brought about in the digital era of photography, the ability to layer multiple exposures is one of the most powerful.  It is a powerful and incredibly useful addition to any photographer’s toolbox, and like any powerful tool, it must be used judiciously. To better understand the power of layers, one must first understand that we do not live in a three-dimensional world, but a four-dimensional one. The four dimensions are length, width, depth, and time. As visual artists, we create images which compress our world into the two dimensions that fit on a screen (or a print), length and width, while maintaining the illusion of depth. To do so effectively, we must master time.

Flash Photography

Those of you who are familiar with the DC Comics Superhero, The Flash, know that his super speed allows him to travel faster than the speed of time, therefore allowing him to master it.  Like The Flash (what better name for a Photographer Superhero?), we transcend time by creating a series of exposures, each with its own characteristic of light, exposure, perspective, and/or focus, thus allowing full control over the color, direction, quantity, and quality of light.  Each exposure, each layer, is leveraged to maximize the best and most effective use of light that we produce.  We can highlight any aspect of the scene and layer it into the final image to elevate it from great to transcendent.  These are the layers that comprise the complex whole. We at Creative Sources Photography call this technique “painting with light.”

Our Superpower

Unlike our time-bending superfast hero, a photographer does not need to endure a horrific lab accident, nor be bitten by a radioactive insect, to be imbued with cosmic powers.  Whether you identify more with our green-tinged friend Shrek, or our  “Scarlet Speedster” buddy The Flash, all one needs is a stable tripod and a deep understanding of how light is the key to creating depth in a photograph. That depth of understanding and expertise is what we bring to the table.  That is our superpower.


The two examples above show a few of the various layers, or stages, we utilize to create a final image.  Whether an interior space or outside at twilight, multiple exposures, with multiple lighting setups, are employed to assemble the final composite.
As always, this informational post was brought to you by Creative Sources Photography, your friendly neighborhood Atlanta architectural photographers!

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