Double Exposure Photography

Double Exposure Photography Guide and Creative Ideas

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Double exposure photography is, without a doubt, one of the oldest types of photography.

Throughout the years, many photographers have experimented with this style of photography. People have come up with highly artistic images that have captured the imagination of viewers from across the world. 

Even today, budding photographers continue to champion this technique as a means of conveying their artistic vision through their photographic work. 

Double Exposure Photography girl mountains background

If you have always wondered what exactly makes double exposure photography such a powerful instrument for artistic expression, you have come to the right place. In this post, we are going to explore the characteristics of this style, and I’ll show you how to create double exposure images. We will also highlight some of the creative ideas that you can adopt when working in this style.

So What is Double Exposure Photography?

The technique of double exposure in photography consists of superimposing two different images on top of each other to create a new photograph.

By overlaying multiple images in one frame, a photographer can come up with surreal images that evoke certain moods otherwise difficult to achieve with single images. Double-exposure also provides an innovative way of telling a particular story through images

How to Do Double Exposure Photography 

Double Exposure Photography man with hoodie

There are two primary ways through which a double-exposure image can be created. These are:

  • In-camera double exposure ( digital and film)
  • Double exposure using photoshop

While the outcome is virtually the same, the methods of achieving double exposure are different in various ways. Let us now explore how each individual technique is applied when creating double-exposure images.

Double Exposure Photography With a Digital Camera

Creating double exposure with digital cameras is a fairly simple and straightforward process. Certain modern DSLRs and mirrorless cameras come with an in-built multiple exposure feature.

Double Exposure Photography girl with hat

However, these features aren’t always the same in all cameras. For instance, while some cameras allow you to shoot multiple images in the same frame, others are designed to let you shoot two frames in a row. It is, therefore, essential to familiarize yourself with the multiple-exposure feature in your camera. 

Follow these steps to create superimposed images using a digital camera: 

  1. Set your digital camera to multiple-exposure mode.
  2. Shoot the first image (first exposure) which will serve as the backdrop for your second image to blend into. You can also pre-load the first image from your camera’s memory card if that feature is available.
  3. Shoot the second image (second exposure) to complete your double exposure photograph.

Double Exposure With a Film Camera

Unlike digital cameras, that are fitted with multiple-exposure settings, film cameras do not allow for two different images to be captured in a single frame. Therefore, in order to create a double-exposure photograph using a film camera, you need to apply entirely different principles. 

Here are some of the steps you need to follow when shooting double-exposure photos using a film camera:

  • Shoot a series of exposures until the film roll is finished
  • Pull out the leader and reload the (used) film into your camera
  • Shoot over the film again to create double exposure images

Creating double exposure images using a film camera is a lot more challenging to do than with a digital camera. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t come up with spectacular double-exposure images on film as well.

You only need to ensure that the second set of frames is properly aligned with the first set. This way you will prevent unwanted overlaps or images falling on the wrong frame. 

Double Exposure using Photoshop

girl and trees

One of the easiest and most popular ways of creating double-exposure images is through software like photoshop. This involves overlaying different images manually after they have been shot separately. 

Here is a simple guide on how to achieve the double-exposure effect using Photoshop:

  1. Select the images you want to blend together
  2. Create a layer mask for the image you intend to superimpose
  3. Select a landscape and load it onto the first image
  4. Fix the background of your image and edit out any imperfections
  5. Create the double exposure using the Blend-Mode setting by varying the opacity of the image

Tips and Tricks for Double Exposure Photography

The technique of double exposure is not as complex as it may appear at first. In fact, anyone can learn how to create double exposure images within minutes, even if they have no previous experience in it.

If you are a beginner in this style of photography, here are some of the tips you can apply to help you produce amazing images.

Understand your camera

If you are interested in creating double exposure images using in-camera settings, it is absolutely vital to understand how your camera operates. 

In case you are using a film camera, ensure that you acquire the best quality film. Black and white films are generally the most recommended because they have good exposure latitude, and can perfectly handle overexposure. 

Have a Concept in Mind

Whereas shooting random images can be a great way to practice double exposure, it is advisable to start by shooting concepts such as landscapes and portraits. This will allow you to focus on when practicing the technique and you’ll find a lot of examples online to get some inspiration.

Experiment a Lot

There are no unbreakable rules when it comes to double-exposure photography –  you are at liberty to experiment with as many ideas as you want. 

One thing you need to remember, however, is that dark subjects generally tend to blend more easily, whereas light ones may lose out some details in the final image. Ultimately, your own discernment should provide you with a guide on how to use the different elements to create visually striking images.


In Conclusion

Creating double-exposure images is a great way to widen your artistic palette as a photographer.

Learning this technique can be richly rewarding since it opens up your creativity and allows you to become more innovative in your approach as a professional.

Whether you are using a digital or film camera or blending different photographs with photoshop, you can greatly develop your artistry by learning the art of double exposure.

All you need to do is start practicing now!

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