Surrealistic Photography

Kusoku ze shiki

Ku soku ze shiki

I re-invented a new photographing technique. The technique is new in the digital domain but, in fact, the phenomenon itself was known since the early era of digital photography.

I don’t remember the name of the camera but I heard that digital cameras could not capture colours before the Bayer filter was invented so you had to take three shots—one for red, one for green and one for blue—and then they were merged into one photograph. However, if there was moving elements such as clouds, waves, cars, pedestrians, cats in the picture, you get unnatural colours.

Although people tried to avoid this effect to capture natural photographs, I thought it would be interesting to create such colours on purpose as a new way of artistic expression, and so I devised this technique. Let me tell you how to do it in details.

To do this, obviously you need a tripod. Fix your camera on the tripod and take three shots. To get radical effects, the exposure time should be long and there should be some time gaps between each shot. But I use three shots taken in a row as example:

shot#1 shot#2 shot#3

As you see, they’re almost identical except for the clouds and water. I export them from Light Room to Photo Shop as layers.

Screen Shot open as layers


Once they’ve been imported into Photo Shop, you open the Color Channel to use only R, G and B channel of each shot.


Specifically, for the first shot, set the Red to 100% and Green and Blue to 0%, for the second shot, set Green to 100% and Red and Blue to 0%, and for the third shot set Blue to 100% and Red and Green to 0%.


Then merge them by setting the opacity of the first shot to 33% and the second shot to 50%, Then, flatten the image and hit Command (CTRL) + S. The resulting image is imported back to Light Room.

The brightness of the image will be darker because only one of the three colour channels is used in each shot so I adjusted the image.

lr adjustment

The resulting image is like this. You see moving elements became iridescent colour.


I created the following images using this technique. They’re currently exhibited at Island Gallery in Tokyo. The exhibition is going to end on Feb 26.



A3_3-2 優しい荒波(黒額)tif

A3_3-2横 秘宝(黒額)



A4_SQ 変幻自在(黒額)

Many friends advised me to not show how to do it but I’d rather want to see how other people use this technique. So I uploaded this post. Good luck with exploring your creativity.

P.S. After uploading this post,  someone kindly let me know that some people used a similar technique back in the days of film cameras. So I replaced the word “invent” with “re-invent.” They typically captured waterfalls with shorter exposure time using colour filters to get sparkling effects.

P.S. (2) I came back from Tokyo and now can access my photos in my HDD. So I upload some more examples that demonstrate the effects of this technique better.

ISO 1600, 4 sec at f/2.8

1st shot: ISO 1600, 4 sec at f/2.8

2nd shot: ISO 160, 300 sec at f/9.0

2nd shot: ISO 160, 300 sec at f/9.0

3rd shot: ISO 125, 600 sec at f/9.0

3rd shot: ISO 125, 600 sec at f/9.0

Adjustment on the resulting image in LightRoom

Adjustment on the resulting image in LightRoom




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