8 TIPS TO ACE DOUBLE EXPOSURE PHOTOGRAPHY

GETTING TO KNOW THE DOUBLE EXPOSURE PHOTOGRAPHY 

When I use the term ‘double exposure photograph’ what knocks the door of your mind? Do you think it is keeping the two photos packed in double sheets and exposing them in the sun? We hope that’s really NOT the case, so before you give more wings to your imagination for figuring out a definition. Let us put it simply for you! 

Double exposure image made by merging buildings and bushes”
Image courtesy: Stacey Gabrielle Koenitz Rozells.

Double exposure photography is the merging of two photographs into one and creating a single image. Double exposure is the superimposition of two exposures to create a single image. The process looks really creative and opens room for more creative content, the images chosen to be merged into each other need not be of identical characteristics. 

The possibilities of creation that double exposure photography opens are limitless and knowing tips for the same works like a magic wand for a photographer. For example, you can merge the human image with the sky or even with a bird! You can even mix your favorite cartoon character with something as wild as a wolf! Yes,I can now feel adrenaline rush dissolving in your imagination and with them some questions of uncertainty and unenlightenment. 

So hold onto your camera buttons tightly and swiftly, as we start the journey of knowing how to click double exposure photographs and provide you the knowledge of modern photography’s boon.

BEGINNING THE JOURNEY OF DOUBLE EXPOSURE PHOTOGRAPHS

As stated above, double exposure is a boon in the hands of modern-day photographers but we must remember ‘with great power comes great responsibility’. When you pick your camera to click double exposure photographs, you have a responsibility to create a unique vision on your shoulders and we know,  it could get heavy so we are here to share the load and tell you these amazing hand-picked tips that will help you to click double exposure pictures better and bolder. 

HAPPY CAPTURING!


“Different eyes have different perspectives themed double exposure image”

Image courtesy: Elina Krima

THINK OF A THEME

The moment you decide to take on the field of double exposure photography, you would find many amazing alternatives laid beautifully in front of you but before you pick up your camera and start clicking, think of a concept that matches your vibe and other available resources. 

You should have a bit of an idea of what you want to achieve by merging the two images and then capture photos accordingly. Your imagination plays a KEY role in double exposure photography. The merging should be followed by a conceptual theme otherwise it could turn out to be a meaningless cluster.

 KNOW YOUR CAMERA

Knowing about the details of your ship before you begin to sail on the sea is a safety precaution, likewise before you begin your photography journey you should be knowing everything about your dearest friend – your camera. Not all DSLRs and cameras offer the multiple exposure mode so you need to first know about the availability of this option in your camera.

Many camera brands have now started to offer this mode in their products due to the high demand for this skill set in the photography world. Canon EOS 5D Mark lll, Canon EOS-1D X and Nikon D800 and Nikon D300 are some of the models in the market with the capability of double exposure shots. If your camera has the capacity to capture double exposure shots well, the journey is much easier for you but if not then don’t be upset as there are many other tips and tricks that you can use to create double exposure shots.

THE DOUBLE EXPOSURE FEATURE 

One must be fully aware by workings of the double exposure feature offered by his/her camera. The different cameras provide this feature differently and there are several conditions and limitations attached to the feature by different brands. The user must go through the manual provided by the company and read about the feature’s available options and one should try to practice clicking pictures through this mode as it is a different kind of experience compared to normal photography and nobody masters it in a single click.

Some cameras like Canon 5D Mark lll allows taking two or more exposures in one image and also allow you to use a previously captured photograph to merge while Fujifilm X100s only allows the user to shoot two frames in a row. You can always encounter such differences in flexibility in a particular mode by different brands, hence it is advisable to know and practice the details and features of the double exposure option present in your camera already to avoid any hurdles on the final day of the shoot.

In digital cameras, shooting the double exposure pictures sounds easy if the mode is present beforehand, you have to click the first layer (or choose it from previous images) and then you capture the second layer. The hard part is framing and positioning the two-shot pictures in such a way that they both blend into each other easily which you would be able to understand only through regular practice and by an understanding of the features present in your camera. 

SHOOTING THE IMAGES

Both the images you are going to click for double exposure are highly important and they should be shot with utmost care. Many photographers like Dave Baxter recommend light background images for the blending purpose.

You should have a prior idea about the points your two images would show and what would be hidden and blended. The first image should be shot in low light and if you are shooting outside then your subject should be against the sky whereas the subject for the second picture should be captured with high contrast or soft blur with the inclusion of white areas where your first image would be cut-out.

When the pictures are added in the camera the light pixels from one image overlap the dark pixels from another and then depending upon how light background each image has, the merging of pixels will produce a faint high-key effect to a full blown-out white effect wherever the two images don’t overlap with each other.

THE BASE IMAGE

Your base photo can be a silhouette, a natural object, a portrait – anything under or even over the sun! The base picture should have the main subject based on your concept, a good amount of highlights and shadows and a neutral background as it makes it easier to later edit the image.

Photography masters say, while capturing the base image, the subject should be placed inside the camera frame in such a way that the photographer is able to see all its outlines clearly, this gives a cleaner double exposure image. The base image’s shape acts as a foundation stone for your double exposure image and hence while choosing and clicking the base image the photographer should be very careful. Your base image conceives space for the layering image and then gives out a perfect image of double exposure.

THE LAYER IMAGE 

The layering image or your second image also plays a vital role in double exposure photography. The second image could also be anything from forest to food but even if you are going for an abstract concept the image captured should be full of entangled details.

While clicking does not stop after one shot, take a few more shots for safety purposes and more creative windows. The layering image should be exposed evenly to facilitate smooth blending. You can shoot from different angles and directions to attain better results after merging.

As nobody knows how the images would look after merging so it is better to take a few safety shots and enhance the chances of better results. The second image should not be too bright or too dark, an image with a generous amount of highlights and shadows serves the purpose beautifully. The highlights and shadows would overlap the base image in the right way and it would give a beautiful result when the blending is done. 

EDIT AND MERGE IMAGES 

This is the most crucial step in dual exposure photography and should be given the most attention. At this step, look carefully at all the shots taken and match them up with the concept you have in your mind, choose the two final images which you think match well with your imagination and concept.

Both the selected images should be of good quality and rich in sharp, well-exposed details. After choosing the base and layer photos, edit both the images for the procurement of the desired concept. Perform the adjustment in brightness and add contrast and shadows to optimize the images for blending. Eliminate the image content that you do not wish to see in your final product, in this step you can also add neutral colors to the background of your image. You can use the Quick Selection Tool and Magic Wand Tool at this level of editing. 

If you have shot the image with a clean or light background then this will not really be an obstacle while editing. Paste the new layer underneath the base picture and then fill it with white or neutral colors. When you will be layering the second image, the outlines of the main image would be visible clearly so move the second image accordingly to produce the desired effect. While merging the images be careful and watchful to not end up in making the mixture a  mess.

“Two different portraits  of a man merged and edited through double exposure photography”
Image courtesy: Lisa Fotios 

FINAL TOUCH-UP

Just like how you require a final touch up after getting all ready, our pictures and double exposure photography demands a bit more care and concern during the final times. After merging both the images and blending them with each other carefully, give the finishing touches to the image to make it look more refined, edgy and appealing.

In the final touch up, you can go for softly erasing the top layer of the second image so that the underneath base image is showcased clearly. Look at your final product, check if it is delivering the desired thought, you can opt to add some text explaining the concept of your double exposure photo but self-explanatory images are preferred.

When you are giving final touch-ups, look out for an element that appears odd and try eliminating it from the picture. Try applying different filters on the photograph and publish the final image with the best suited. When all of this is done, put your photograph on your screen and pat your back.

Cheers! You did well, we are proud of you. 

BONUS POINTS FROM THE CHIIZ

  • There are no specific set of rules to follow while you are practicing double exposure photography, but photographers do NOT recommend using lighter and brighter images as it will affect the details of both the images after blending. 
  • Silhouettes work best for double exposure photography and darker scenes and subjects facilitate the merging of the two images.
  • Double exposure photography opens a room for a lot of creativity and innovation so the photographers are advised to be a little experimental and go in search of some extraordinary concepts that are full of dramatic details. For example, merging of a dark silhouette on a shiny white background will give out an interesting scene.
  • Double exposure photography could also be used to give a ghost effect in your photographs. If you place your subject away from the frame, it will create a translucent illusion and you will be able to achieve ghostly shadows.

 

SUGGESTIONS BY PHOTOGRAPHERS
 

As double exposure photography is something that gets polished only through regular practice and experience, we thought of bringing you some first-hand experience and tips by photographers themselves! 

  • According to David Bergman if you are using a human face as one of your images, try playing with flash on the subject’s face. This helps in creating a perfect mixture of bright and dark tones.
  • Michael Gabriel in one of his interviews suggested the young photographers be properly informed about their camera and its features. Generally, we tend to avoid reading user manuals but go through it to develop a greater understanding of the features available. 
  • Varanasi based photographer Dushyant Shekhavat advises the photographers to be careful while positioning and framing the second image so that your second picture does not end in covering the first image entirely. 
  • Another photographer advised us to choose the images that blend well with each other, he said we should go for the scenes and objects that complement each other and create an action of thought in the viewer’s mind. 

CONCLUSION

Double exposure photography is a free-zone for a photographer where his/her imagination and creativity can run fast and wild without any restrictions. Through double exposure photography, you get a window to assimilate two images that could stand out for different ideologies and thus, it opens a tab for more thought processes.

Before starting double exposure photography one should remember that the motto of this technique is to attain maximum creativity. The focus of photographers should be on innovation and their goal should be to create something that attracts the viewer and conveys a thoughtful message while making the viewer start a thinking process in his/her mind after seeing the image. 

This photography technique allows your mind to draw where your camera acts like a paintbrush. As this technique provides a lot of freedom to the creator, they should take that up as a responsibility and create content that is unique and conceptual. Double exposure photography is like a crown on the throne of the modern photography world and the key to acquiring it is available, only through regular practice and patience. 

About the Author:


Abhilasha Chauhan
is a teenager, who comes from the land of poets and culture- Lucknow. Abhilasha is pursuing psychology. So, her life goes around observing people, knowing their stories and then, writing about them. She has been hooked to writing from a very early age and writing provides her an essential escape from the mundane life experiences

Comments(6)

  • Abhilasha.. you are rising star .. Proud of u..

    SUSHIL K SHARMA
    Reply
  • The content is substantial and shows the efforts the writer has put in her work. The research turned out to be useful for me for I did not know about it earlier! Thanks for the useful.

    Venus
    Reply
  • Wonderful explanation

    KPS sengar
    Reply
  • Wohho this is a piece of art. The author is mind-blowing the way she has made this entire procedure a piece of cake is amazing.

    Kritika Singh
    Reply
  • Well done Abhilasha
    Everything is so well explained
    Superb work

    Vandana Singh
    Reply
  • Very detailed and helpful article.

    Shivendra Singh Chauhan
    Reply

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