Photoshop Sunday; Harris Shutter Effect

The Harris shutter effect is one of those effects from the days of film that is much easier to achieve in Photoshop and allows the same level of creativity.

The Harris shutter was originally a strip device which held a Red, Green and Blue filter used to photograph the same frame with each colour, creating a rainbow effect around anything in the frame that moved. Subjects commonly photographed with this effect are waterfalls, clouds as well as street scenes.
Normally the images would be triple exposures with each exposure being taken with a coloured filter. Another method was to create a drop filter which would contain the three colours in gels with two opaque sections between them which was dropped in front of the lens during a long exposure.

To create the effect digitally you need to three images. It is best to use a tripod when shooting your images as any movement will create a rainbow effect.

  1. Open the three images in Photoshop.
  2. Create a new document in Photoshop the same size as your open images.
  3. With the first opened image click on the channels panel and select the red channel. Copy the channel, move to the new document select the red channel and paste. This will give you a red image.
  4. Now repeat the previous step with the other two images using the blue and green channels.
  5. Once all channels are filled in the new document, switch back to the layers tab to see the Harris shutter effect.
  6. Adjustments are sometimes needed to the contrast as well as vibrance ( to taste).

For my image I had the idea of creating a self-portrait with this effect. I would need three poses and came up with the idea of the “Three Wise Monkeys”; Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil. Each pose would be a different colour and the image would be different to the normal “Three Wise Monkey” images which are usually triptychs.

Harris Shutter Effect Self Portrait

I did have to align my images before I applied the effect and did this with the images layered on top of each other. Once the layers were aligned I cropped the image and then followed the workflow above but instead of images I had to select layers and then copy the channels.
I made the image square because I thought it would be a better composition. I did this by adjusting the canvas size and then copying a slice off the top part of the image pasting on a new layer then duplicating this layer, repositioning and then duplicating again. I added some curves adjustments for contrast as well as a vibrance adjustment layer and selectively lightened the background with a levels adjustment layer and a layer mask.

I feel the image has worked, the concept and the effect together has created an interesting twist on an iconic proverb and image.

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