Process Multiple Exposures by Averaging Images

There are many techniques and things you can do taking multiple exposures of the same scene: HDR, noise reduction, increasing resolution, simulating long exposures and many others. In this short article I will discuss Averaging Images as a way to improve a scene or to create an abstraction from a scene.

Tools :

To average images you can use photoshop, Gimp or any photo-edition software. The recipe is simple: load each image as a layer and set the transparency for the nth layer as 1/N.

For example if you have 5 layers transparency would be:

  • – 1/5 (20%)
  • – 1/4 (25%)
  • – 1/3 (33%)
  • – 1/2 (50%)
  • – 1/1 (100%)
    Another approach is to use Image Magick, a free software that can be used to do many interesting things on your photos. I use it a lot for batch cropping, resizing and to create composites using different techniques. Once you have downloaded and installed ImageMagick you can average a number of images using the following commandline instruction:

    convert *.jpg -average result.jpg

    Averaging can be used in static scenes to create a new photo with less noise. Noise is reduced in the function of the square root of the number of images. So if you average 25 shots you have 5 times less noise than in a single image.

    Averaging can also be used in non-static scenes to simulate a long exposure.

    For example you can simulate a 4 hours exposure of a sunset to see how many different colors you can get as in this example:


    A four hours exposure would be impossible as the photo would be blown but a 4 hours average is possible. Averaging skies is a good way to get a surprising abstract combining all the shapes and colors in a time span.

    You can try this with the sky or any other scene, take many shots one after the other and use average to find a surprising result. You can average a complete day or a complete night, the results will be surprising.

    Leave a Reply

    1 Comment on "Process Multiple Exposures by Averaging Images"

    newest oldest most voted
    Notify of

    Hello Luis,
    seems to be an interesting way to modify some images. I will try it. 🙂
    Best regards, Hannes

    Back To Top