The Olympus OM-D E-M10 came with a feature found on no other OM-D camera (or possibly any other camera), and that feature was called Live Composite. It’s a way of “sort of” doing time lapse photography, but with each successive image added to all the previous images, much like using the Lighten Blending mode to merge layers in Photoshop. Now, FW 2.0 brings this great function to the E-M1.
With this first image, I used Live Composite with the overall exposure set to underexpose by a couple of stops. Then, I just slowly added soft light to the parts I wanted to brighten, all the while watching the image develop in real time on the LCD.
To use Live Composite (LC), you have to go to Manual and pass through all of the slow shutter speeds, past Live Time and Bulb. Once you’re in LC, you’ll be able to adjust your shutter speed by pressing the Menu Button to access that menu. However, before you go to LC, I suggest doing some test shots in manual to determine your base or starting exposure. Once this is set and you begin the LC exposure, the dark areas won’t increase in brightness, only parts of the image that are brighter will be added, and only up to the set exposure. I know this is a little confusing, but as soon as you use it once or twice, it will become very clear. One other tip … you should use a tripod for this.
In the above photo, the image on the left shows the result after 22 exposures (46 seconds), while the right one shows after 49 exposures. The only increase in brightness is from light painting that I did with a flashlight. This also shows the display you will see on your camera, showing total elapsed time, your set shutter speed and number of exposures, plus a histogram to help you judge the correct (desired) exposure.
Live Composite should be a great tool for capturing star trails or car light trails. Or, how about getting that smooth look on flowing water or fast moving clouds. I think it’s perfect for light painting, too, but just use your imagination to come up with lots of new applications and then be sure and share your ideas with the rest of us.
This is a very brief introduction, but I go into more detail in an ebook I’ve written, a comprehensive guide to Firmware Update Version 2.0 for the Olympus OM-D E-M1. It’s now available for FREE download at The Friedman Archives. If you’d like to get it, please send an email request to Gary Friedman.