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Why you Should use The Harris Shutter Effect

The Harris Shutter effect is a lot of fun to play around with when you’ve got some spare time and is an easy way to impress friends.

This effect can be used in just about any situation where you can keep the camera steady and is a great way to show movement in a photo.

What is The Harris Shutter Effect?

The Harris Shutter effect was created by Robert Harris of Kodak.

The effect was originally created by re-exposing the same piece of film three times through three different coloured filters while keeping the camera steady.

The three colours used were red, blue and green (the colours of the light spectrum) and, in the areas where no movement takes place, these three colours combine to reproduce the original color.

With the advent of Photoshop and digital cameras, the whole thing can be done a lot easier and without the use of filters.

This post will show you how to produce photos like the one below.

How it’s Done

All the photographer has to do is to take three color photos of a scene involving a small amount of movement and an object that remains constant.

In my example above, I used the rising smoke out of a glass jar. The jar is the constant, and the smoke is the movement. For this effect to work best, the photos should be taken in quick succession like the ones below. 

Step by step guide

After setting up the shot and choosing three suitable photos, you want to open the first image in Photoshop or, alternatively, the free program I like to use: Gimp. It’s not as good as Photoshop but, in many ways, does much the same thing and is ideal for what we’re going to do here.

Firstly, go to ‘Colors’ and select ‘Color Balance’. Boost the red level while completely removing the green and blue level from that image. This is layer number 1.

Next, go to ‘File’ and select ‘Open as Layers…’. Select the second photo. Repeat the step above but, this time, remove the red and blue levels while boosting the green.

Finally repeat the steps above for the blue channel.

At this point you will only be able to see the blue photo so, to merge all three photos into one, you’ll need to open the layers dialog. To do this, it’s usually ‘Ctrl-L’ or ‘Cmd-L’.

Once open, select the first of the two top layers and go to the dropdown box next to ‘Mode:’. Select ‘Addition’ as demonstrated below. Repeat for both.

This will allow you to see all three photos at the same time as one image, completing the effect. 

Now all you have to do is to save it in the desired image format and you’re finished.

How To- The Harris Shutter Effect

A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:

Thank you for reading...

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Josh

Hey I'm Josh, I'm Photographer in Chief here at ExpertPhotography, and I'm in charge of making sure that we provide you with the best content from the most knowledgeable photographers in the world. Enjoy the site :)

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