Pentax in-camera composite pictures

Having fun making composite pictures with your Pentax K-* camera.

Multi-exposure and Auto EV Adjustment setup

Pentax K-10D up through Pentax K-5 models support Multi-exposure composite pictures with a variety of results possible from simulating slow shutter speeds to creating transparency effects.

We will begin by RTFM, aka read the camera's owners manual, if misplaced it no problem just go to, and choose:

  • 1. Type of Product = Camera
  • 2. Type of Cameras = Digital SLR
  • 3. Type of Digital SLR = <your actual camera model>
Manual product selecition
Collapse the Firmware section or scroll to bottom and expand Manuals:
Manual selection
You may now download your particular manual. For the rest of this document I will use the Pentax K-5 as our reference. Go to page 155 of the Pentax K-5 manual that explains how to setup Multi-exposure: Pentax owners manual 1 Pentax owners manual 2

Warning icon Important:

You must have Auto EV Adjustment checked, without this checked result would be a normal multiple exposed picture and probably nearly white if a daytime photograph

Now that you understand where to set the Multi-exposure settings here are some of the possibilities that open to you.

Multi-exposure + Auto EV Adjust = Simulated ND filter

With this ability to average 2-9 shots together into a single composite image, you can simulate use of a Neutral Density (ND) filter when no such filter is available.
Here are the pictures from a forum post, , showing this process used on small waterfall by forum member Bart Hickman.

Figure 1: 9 shots each 1 second shutter speed for a total of 9 seconds exposure time before the sun. Figure 2: : 9 shots each 1 second shutter speed for a total of 9 seconds exposure time after the sun is out.
View: original size
View: original size

Night-time noise reduction

Use the same process above at night to reduce noise in your image, however be careful since the Auto EV Adjusting will treat the moving stars like noise so they would likely not totally disappear but would be noticeably dimmer.

Object transparency

Another forum member wrote this post, that shows us how buy manipulating a 5 shots Multi-exposure with the Auto EV Adjustments on you can have an instant composite of a car with transparent hood.

Figure 3: 5 shots Multi-exposure with the Auto EV Adjustments, 1 shot hood open, other 4 with hood closed. original size
Experiment and you can create see-through doors, containers, clothes to mention only a few things. Set your imagination free.

Removing objects

One other little trick, say you're at a location and keep having people or traffic cross between you and your subject and just cannot get the shot. Did you know that about a 5-second exposure can remove a object like a person walking across your path?

Photoshop extended has had a feature called image stacking which allows you to take multiple pictures and perform a process that can result in the same thing as using the Multi-exposure and Auto EV Adjustments with a long exposure, see for example of the Photoshop process.

In theory, let us say it is a cloudy day where at f22 you need 2-seconds for a correct exposure, if we took our Multi-exposure of 9 shots and if we have at least 3 shots without a person in the same location any person who was at the same location "should" disappear. Or if a lot of traffic you may need to use a Actual ND filter of -3 or greater so the exposure time for each of you 2-9 shots is over 5 seconds if multiple people or cars are involved.

Example Gallery

Figure 4: Transparent hood #1
Figure 5: Transparent hood #2
Figure 6: Transparent hood #3
Figure 7: Denny Creek
Figure 8: Behind the garage door

Running water from the kitchen faucet experiment

In each of these pictures you can see examples of shutter speed verses and combined with Multi-exposure and the Auto EV adjust.
Figure 9: 9 Multi-exposures @ 0.5-second shutter speed d
Figure 10: 0.5 second exposure and no Multi-exposure
Figure 11: 9 shot Multi-exposure shot at 1/60 shutter speed
Figure 12: 1/60 shutter speed with no Multi-exposure