Photowise commercial and wedding photography Pretoria, Gauteng

Multiple Exposures in Camera – April 2015 – By Maryna Cotton

“Double and multiple exposures allow you to indulge in fantasy, but one of their strongest uses is the intensification of reality” – Freeman Patterson – Photography for the joy of it.

The drive through the Eastern Freestate this past week-end has left me with memories that are distinctly pink and white in colour. For most of my life I have waited for the happy Cosmos to bloom every year– their appearance signifying the end of summer and the happy occurrence of the Easter holidays. Over the years I have photographed the little flowers from every angle and this year the challenge was to come up with something new, with the added challenge to tell the story of these pretty little weeds authentically.

On contemplating exactly what that story was, I was again struck by a few truths. Cosmos are pretty and simple in their design, but rather disorganized in their scattered groups. They grow very tall on rather thin stems, resulting in the tendency to dance in the slightest of breezes. The combination of pink and white is perfectly set off and intensified against the blue skies and as if this is not intense enough the collective of the vast numbers scattered over the country side is breath taking.  If I could be allowed the cliché of humanizing them, I would say they are humble and despite the fact that they are mere weeds growing in the most inhabitable soil, they always appear happy.

The challenge of telling the story of happy abundance, simplicity, intense colour and organized chaos made Multiple Exposures the obvious choice.

Multiple Exposures are images where two or more exposures (images) are superimposed in a single frame (image). Granted in the old days of film these were more complicated to make or at least we had to think harder, unlike the “shoot and see what you get”  of  the digital era. One had to have an understanding of negative and positive values, where black in an image represented no exposure at all and this created the perfect conditions for overlaying a second exposure.  Also one had to consider the actual exposures, as the combined exposures could result in the over-exposure of highlights in the final image. This resulted in the need to under-expose each exposure in order to end up with correct exposure for the final image.

Most of the modern digital cameras can do Multiples exposures in camera – ranging from 2-9 exposures overlaid. The good news is that the compensation for the exposures is done automatically. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 1D X, and 70D; most Nikon DSLRs; Fujifilm’s X-Pro1 and X100s; and the Olympus OM-D E-M5, among others can do in-camera Multiple Exposures. In the event of your camera not able to do Multiple Exposures all is not lost. Multiple images can also be overlaid in Photoshop. The motivation for including Multiple exposures in-camera was actually for a whole different reason that the creative expression I intended. It is used widely for White Balance tweaks in Commercial Architectural Photography, or to create the effect of long-exposures despite bright light conditions.

I set my Nikon DSLR to 9 shots and started playing.

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Moving the camera between exposures creates dynamic images and each one is unique. Do not to get caught up with the technical aspect of Multiple Exposures, experiment and gain understanding from experience and trial and error.

Very little editing is needed  – I usually only make level adjustments.

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How to check a DSLR’s shutter actuation count

DSLR cameras have only a few moving parts. The two largest of these are the main reflex mirror (which enables one to look through the lens via the viewfinder and which swings up and out of the way when one takes the photo) and the shutter (which consists of two curtains opening and closing to allow light to fall onto the sensor. The hard-working mechanical shutter is delicate and can be prone to failure over the life of the camera.

01 - How to check a DSLR’s shutter actuation count IMAGE1Much like the odometer on a car, a shutter actuation count can be especially significant when considering buying a second hand camera. It indicates how many times the shutter on a particular camera has been fired.

Camera models are released with an actuation rating (how long the shutter should last). Take the shutter actuation rating on face-value though, as firstly, they are computed to be statistically accurate. While there are always exceptions in any set of statistics, and you may end up with a shutter that lasts half as long or twice as long as its rated lifetime, but generally speaking they should last for as long as they are rated. Secondly, statistical ratings tend to be pessimistic, rather than optimistic. For example on the Nikon D3 the shutter is rated for 300,000 shutter actuations. That doesn’t mean the shutter will fail within one or two shots past the rating. It’s just a guideline, but a great indication of how hard a camera has worked.  Shutter actuation count ratings are usually available on the internet for most DSLR models.

There are several ways to check the shutter count of a camera and all of them rely on either having access to the camera, access to an image created by the camera, or both. Fortunately many manufacturers embed the number of shutter actuations in the EXIF data of the pictures produced with that camera so you can examine a recent photo taken with a given camera and see the actuation count.

The easiest way to check is with

Using the EXIF data this website works for many camera models. You can upload a picture (Jpeg) to the site, which will read the EXIF data, and will give you the shutter count and also the life cycle of the camera (based on the manufacturer’s estimated shutter life for the camera model). (Other sites: and

But before you panic and start making funeral arrangements for your work-horse check out This is a crowd-sourced database of camera shutter actuations and when the camera died (or if it is still alive). The database has been running since 2007 and will give you a good idea of your camera’s real life expectancy.

If you look up the stats for the Nikon D700, for example, the camera is rated for 150 000 actuations, but the real world data on this website indicates that 86% of the 200 cameras sampled are still going at 250 000 actuations.

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Composition: Beyond the labels – Seeing Part 1

I have had the incredible privilege to photograph with and learn from Freeman Patterson on visit to Namaqualand some years ago. Freeman was one of the main catalysts who started my photographic journey and I keep on finding inspiration in his books and photographs.

One of the main subjects of the conversations I had with Freeman was that we as photographers should learn to look at the world around us, without attaching labels to things.

Our first words spoken as babies are nouns aka “labels”. We name things – we describe by attaching labels when identifying objects and in our conversations, thoughts and dreams. Labels often act as the filters, which determine how we will use our senses to experience something, often excluding all but one or two of our senses. Stopping to connect and interact with something, experiencing it honestly enough, to get beyond the “labels”, is where we need to go to really see……we then think in terms of shape, lines, balance, rhythm, repetition etc. It is in this “alternate reality” where waves ebbing and flowing over rocks can be captured as “passing time” and frozen in a single exposure. Or where a range of sand dunes can become a collection of repetitive lines or shapes – almost abstract in their simplicity.

During some pre-dawn moonlit walks, I was struck by how hills, rocks and trees, stripped from detail, colour, form and texture – reduced to mere flat shapes – allowed my senses and imagination to experience them as anything but what they actually are. Two strong lines of repetitive shapes formed by a rocky ridge in the moonlight, had completely disappeared when I went looking for it in daylight. Yes, they were there, but the brownish mottled colours and varying textures had now completely “overwritten” the repetition I had seen in the moonlight. The lines and beautiful repetition had now been reduced to very uninteresting rocks. The strong formidable upright, almost authoritative, monochrome silhouette of Helmut’s tree, became a rather feminine Akasia, decked in pretty yellow blossoms in the morning light.

I was set an assignment at Bokbalbaai – a stretch of coastline approx 1km long, consisting of nothing but pebbles, rocks and kelp of varying colours and shape – to photograph anything but pebbles, rocks, kelp and sea. I sat on a rock feeling a lot of despair, looking at millions of rocks and pebbles…..

Remembering what I had taught so many of our students, I knew I had to simplify the scene in front of me, in order to make any sense of the assignment. Using the viewfinder, I limited my perspective to what could fit in the frame and deliberately deleting the labels “rocks” and “pebbles”, I started seeing shapes, curved lines, shadows repeating the curves and patterns to create form and repetition. It comes as no surprise that “simplify” is the first “rule” first composing great images….

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Vision – “Passionate stories, told passionately..”

David duChemin wrote in one of his books: “Vision is the beginning and end of photography”.

I agree. Vision is that something , the je ne sais quoi, the inspiration that moves you to pick up your camera to photograph it. It will determine how you photograph and why, the settings you choose and the angle you use. For me it is not only the journey of the making of every photograph, but also my journey to discover, define and often redefine my own vision. Often I am defined by my vision.

I get stirred to photograph a particular scene, often not knowing what it is that I am “seeing” or why, only to discover the elusive vision when I look at my images later and then discover exactly what it was what I was feeling at the time. The camera becoming the tool of self-discovery.

DuChemin points out that our vision often grows to meet our skill. I believe we become better equipped to express our vision. I love looking at my older images. I can often clearly see what was going on in my life by looking at what my vision was when I made the images – what caught my eye then…what stirred me. I can clearly see how my technical skills improved with experience, but I am often amazed at how my ability to express grew. There have always been “common” elements in my images, that identify them as my work, but I am just better at expressing my creativity and myself…my vision. I am learning every day how to photograph what moves me, but also how to express what I feel. The more passionate I am about the subject, the more I have to say and to get across to the viewer. Du Chemin worded it so aptly: “Passionate stories, told passionately..”

“Knowing what you love to photograph, and what you do not, is the first step in the recognition and refinement of your vision”. So what happens if I have to photograph something I am really not that excited about? Here, I believe, learning the tricks to communicate through light, colour, camera angles etc can often save the day. I often draw from my love for photography in general – the chance to spend time with my beloved camera – to draw passion back into my vision.

Freeman Patterson summed it up so beautifully: “Photography – both the craft and the art – helps me to be. It allows and enables me to live creatively, which is to honour Creation and my own existence.”

This past week-end the Photowise team was privileged enough to be part of a lovely couple’s special day. All was just perfect and the resulting images reminded me why I photograph in the first place…. I love people and I love telling stories!

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Cover shoot for Devoted Magazine

Sarel  recently had the privilege of photographing the absolutely lovely Janet Potgieter for the cover of the Devoted Magazine. Janet is the reigning Mrs Africa Globe Classic. Follow her on Facebook

Good luck in Las Vegas, Janet!

Devoted Magazine on-line:

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McRofuzer rekindles the love for Macro Photography in Photowise students

Photowise has been presenting Macro workshops over the past few weeks and have been inundated with calls and orders for McRofuzer. With Nikon still bundeling the Macro Training DVD’s and McRofuzer with all their Macro lenses sold, Macro Photography is now easier and fits most budgets. McRofuzer for Canon lenses is currently in production and will be available in our on-line store by the end of March. (Click here to pre-order yours!) 

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We received this mail from Leigh Ann and her images are truly stunning!

“WoW, Thanks so much for the speedy prompt service and delivery of my McRofuzer and macro dvd. The dvd was very insightful and am now trying out your recommended settings. I use my McRofuzer now for almost all my shots, the diffused light really makes a big difference and makes the subject “PoP” – brings it to life. I am very happy with my new macro lens & McRofuzer Combo, and look for any and every opportunity to go looking for things to shoot… especially love little bugs!!!” Leigh Ann van Aswegen (E-mail 3 March 2015) 


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Jacaranda FM: Keep It Real Campaign

Great was the excitement when we were offered the opportunity to be part of Jacaranda FM’s Keep It Real campaign this past week. (  Four brave listeners volunteered for a photo shoot, knowing full well that there will be no retouching or post-processing.  The photographer was non other then Jacques du Preez.  The Photowise team pulled out all stops to play the perfect hosts for  the day, making sure Jacques had access to the best Photowise Studio has to offer, and creating a fantastic experience for the brave ladies.  

Follow the Jacaranda FM’s Keep It Real campaign on and on Twitter Jacaranda FM@jacarandafm #Keepitreal.

For the reveal: MBD.

For more behind the scenes: Click here 

For the pics: Click here









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N4 Gateway Industrial Park East
Willow Park Manor, 0184
Cnr Solomon Mahlangu and
R104 Bronkhorstspruit Rd

Location Inside the Park:
49 Sneeuberg Street
Unit 3

S 25°45'16.358"
E 28°21'51.222"

Contact Us

For General Enquiries:
012 803 1370

Sarel van Staden:
082 4150 474

Maryna Cotton:
082 8570 479