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.
The Olympus OM-D E-M1 (and E-M5, E-M10) were made for Light Painting. They give you a feature not found on any other camera that I know of, and that is Live Bulb / Live Time. Using either of these allows you to watch your image develop in Real Time (almost like developing prints in a dark room back in the “good old days”). And then you can end the exposure when you think it looks right.
Light Painting is not only easy but a lot of fun and it can yield some unique images for you. Basically it entails setting up in a relatively dark location so you can use a longer shutter setting, long enough to give you time to selectively illuminate your subject to achieve your desired result.
I won’t go into details here because I wrote about it twice last year. First using the Fujifilm X100, and later with the Olympus PEN E-PL1. I not only talk just a little about technique but point you to some great websites about it, too.
The beauty of using this technique with the OM-D is centered in two features known as Live Bulb and Live Time. (The settings for these two are found in Custom Menu E.) In a nutshell, these two functions tell the camera to periodically update the live view on the LCD monitor, allowing you to track the exposure in “almost” real time. Then when it looks right … you end it.
The menu settings allow you set the desired interval for the camera to update the live view, but keep in mind the number of updates is limited. So you need to space them out to make sure it will cover your needed exposure time. Also the higher the ISO, the lower the number of allowed updates.
My favorite of the two modes is Live Time for one simple reason. It lets you start the exposure with a simple press of the shutter button and then end it the same way. With Live Bulb, you must hold the shutter button down (or use a cable remote with locking ability) for the entire time.
Previously, getting a good exposure while light painting was a function of luck, experience, and trial and error. Now, with the Olympus OM-D E-M5, we have a tool that can greatly shorten the learning curve and help you get the best exposure the first time. 🙂
By the way, if you’d like more about the nuts and bolts of these features (and Much more), take a look at Gary Friedman’s comprehensive new book about the Olympus OM-D E-M1, available in just a few days at The Friedman Archives, www.friedmanarchives.com