Fine Art,  Movement

Bob Harris’s Shutter

I recently gave my “Movement in Photography” talk to the Facebook Camversation group. It was great to talk to about 100 photographers from around the world.

One subject of my talk was the “Harris shutter”.  It’s a technique developed by Bob Harris, a Kodak engineer, and involves taking a three exposures on one film frame using three coloured filters; red, green and blue, and with one exposure per filter.  The idea is that where no movement has happened the colours come out normal, and where movement has happened you get red, green or blue colours appearing.  You also get the additive colours where these primary colours overlap.  It’s a fun thing to try.

These days we don’t have to use the classic Harris Shutter technique and try and get it all in one frame.  You can take three in-register images of your moving subject and then edit the images in Photoshop.

Using these three images of a moving fountain as an example, here’s what to do…

Open all the images in Photoshop.  Select one image and go to Channels.  Duplicate the Red channel into a new file.  On my PC it comes up as Untitled-1.  Select the next image and duplicate the Green channel into the same new file.  Go to the third image and duplicate the Blue channel into that same new file.  Select the new Untitled-1 image and you will see that the Channels are listed as Alpha 1, 2 and 3.  The image may well look pink overall.  Go to Image, Mode and you will see that it’s listed as a Multichannel image.  Select RGB Color instead and, as if by magic, you image should have normal colour where no movement has occurred and bright primaries where it has.

Here’s what you get with the fountain images.  Obviously you can mix and match which image you take the Red channel from, and so on.

Give it a go!