Multiple exposure in-camera needs the right subject

multiple exposure motocross

7-shot in-camera multiple exposure with the EOS 5D Mark III & EF14mm f/2.8L USM

This article is all about in-camera multiple exposure with the EOS 5D Mark III.

This past weekend I had plans to go to the Red Bull Pro Nationals Motocross at Cullham Park. It was the final round of the championship and with some titles undecided there would be plenty of close racing. Fortunately Moto X is able to exist with relatively low fences and as a result crowd viewing is great and for photographers there are plenty of vantage points and styles of photo to be taken.

I used some established techniques like panning with the riders, freezing the action with a high shutter speed, even using high speed sync and a flash on the camera!

Freestyle Motocross Show – time for the 14mm lens

Freestyle Motorcross at the Red Bull Pro Nationals

One feature of the days program was a Freestyle Motocross Show, the riders leaping from one ramp to the next and pulling off some pretty incredible tricks in the air. Given that the crowd was close to the railings and there was not so much space I opted for the 14mm wide-angle lens on the EOS 5D Mark III.

Initial results and a short set with the motordrive running flat out on the EOS 5D Mark III and I had an idea based on what I saw on the camera LCD. During one sequence of a rider I could scroll through images in playback and it looked a bit like a flick book kind of animation. In camera multiple exposure camera to mind. It was clear that the lens was wide enough to capture the whole jump.

Multiple exposure settings

The EOS 5D Mark III and EOS-1D X have more extensive options for multiple exposure photography than the EOS 70D and the EOS 6D. One particular setting is missing in the EOS 70D and EOS 6D; Multi-expos ctrl: Dark. This causes the blending of images to happen only where the change is darker than the underlying image. So a motorbike against the sky would certainly be darker and the blend would work.

I set the EOS 5D Mark III multiple exposure options as follows

  • Multiple exposure – On:ContShtng
  • Multi-expos ctrl – Dark
  • No. of exposures – 6
  • Continue Mult-exp – Continuously

multiple exposure of Freestyle Motorcross at the Red Bull Pro Nationals

Instantly I had a new problem to fix – the EOS 5D Mark III was too fast for the motorcross bike in the air!

Fixing the camera speed was simple, the 6fps of the EOS 5D Mark III was too quick so I chose the slower 3fps drive speed. I also found that I was not shooting enough pictures so in the picture above the sixth image (bike at the left of the frame) is from a different rider. It’s important to watch the countdown in the corner of the cameras viewfinder to know you have completed the sequence. Also small movements of the camera – handheld – cause issues with multiple parts of the ramps in the frame.

6-image multiple exposure of Freestyle Motorcross at the Red Bull Pro Nationals

I also decided that the framing was pretty bad, as there was little chance to get a good shot with the flags on top of the ramp.

Here’s a few more from the Freestyle Motocross Show…

If you want to see even more pictures, please check out my Red Bull Pro Nationals event gallery where you can also purchase prints.

Later on in the day I tried again, but pushed the number of shots to seven in the sequence

Multiple exposure of Red Bull Pro National Moto X

This image is also not wholly successful, the clothing of the riders to the right of the frame is lighter than the sky in parts, so the sky is showing through making the riders look a bit ghostly.

The one thing I wished for was that each image could be saved, not just the final composite. If you need the source images then you need to set the Multiple Exposure to On:Func/Ctrl. Why not check out another article about Multiple exposure in-camera composite images?


Surely you can do this in Photoshop?

Why yes you can, and indeed Gavin Hoey was on hand to prove you right. Armed with the EOS 70D and an EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye Zoom his approach was photoshop. Also as we found out the EOS 70D can’t do the darker subject blending that the EOS 5D Mark III can.