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Q&A

How to take 2 exact same photos, months apart

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The issue:

I will be using photoshop to create a photo of my friends Mike and Jim with their favorite drinks sitting at the same table.

Jim is visiting this week and has an expensive bottle of scotch.

Mike is visiting next month and will be bringing an expensive bottle of Whiskey.

The photo will contain both items and persons despite the fact both people and items never existed in the same room at the same time.

Details:

I just have an average smartphone, and no tripod.

The plan is to use a tape measure and ensure the table+chairs is in the exact same location for both photos, to limit the work done on photoshop and make the resulting photo look more realistic.

I could attach a string to my smartphone and measure the bottom of the String from the walls

But I don't know how to get the exact angle. I could buy a cheap tripod, but I don't know if the angle of the smartphone would be exact. I'd also like to save a few bucks if this is possible without a tripod.

Image of the table

Image of the empty table

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3 comments

I added 'time-lapses' as a tag, since I believe you'd need to do the same thing for time-lapses. In my case I cannot keep a camera in the same spot for a month. dustytrash‭ 8 months ago

There is software which will automatically align photos for panoramas: I use the free Hugin. Exact alignment is good if you can manage it (and a spirit level may help), but the biggest problem will be having exactly the same focus, and I can't offer any tips for reproducing the focus position on a smartphone. Peter Taylor‭ 8 months ago

@PeterTaylor thanks, I didn't think about focus. It turns out there are settings for manual focus on my default camera app dustytrash‭ 8 months ago

1 answer

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If your subjects are privy to what you are doing you could also add a large neutral grey board with a high contrast focus target at the same distance as your subjects that will be cut away from both images. In the position of the other party or out of scene if you have enough margin to crop the outside. If you cannot let them know then you have to use a wall for exposure and the subject for focus setting.

You coax your camera to focus and exposure control onto the target. If you have the same lighting it should expose similarly.

For framing you use or prepare a set of sighting points like on a gun where you align the two points the same in both pictures. A bottle of water or candle (anything really) that is there on both occasions in the same exact position on the table that aligns with a distant feature like the corner of the skirting boards in your example. This will align the viewpoint if the furniture is in the same location (pencil marks on the floor for accuracy).

Also if this is not easy to repeat then I suggest you practice with stand in people until you are comfortable.

If you can get an actor to sit in the empty chair who will cast a credible shadow across the table when photographing the other person it will look more realistic. You could also add a reflecting surface to catch the profile of your actor or else make sure there are NO reflecting surfaces if you have no actor.

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