Double/multiple-exposure is a technique where you expose two or more images (superimposed) on the same frame.
Double-exposure is fun and it spikes up your creativity juice to arrange the shots according to your aesthetic vision.
Why do it on film
Double-exposure can be achieved simply by using Photoshop. Or on your digital camera if they (such as Fujifilm X-series) have the built-in multiple exposures function.
I tried doing double exposures with digital camera but I feel that something is missing.
My first experience with double exposure was when I had my first Lomography La Sardina in 2012. This camera has a double-exposure function, which I think many Lomography cameras do.
It was so fun!
I swear film double-exposure looks different from digital’s double-exposure!
Furthermore, using film and seeing the image (scan/print) also make you feel the sense of presence. And it also makes the process more challenging but once you nail it, the sense of satisfaction is immeasurable!
One last reason to do double exposures on film is to anticipate the surprises.
Agree with me?
How to do double exposures
There are many guides out there on how to do double exposures. But I haven’t written my version, so here it goes:
To be honest, if you want to have fun, there should be no rule. When I used Lomography camera back in 2012, I didn’t have much control over the camera since it is a point-and-shoot.
The important thing is where you place your subject in the frame.
For instance, some people like to place their subject on the right for the first exposure, and then on the left for the second.For the multiple exposures below, I used the Lomography La Sardina and I simply just shifted myself from left to right. If you notice, the colour intensity decreases as the exposure increases. If I were to do fourth and fifth exposures, I don’t think I will see the last two and the increased exposures might fade my first three shots. Another camera I use for my double-exposure fun shots is Nikon FM2.
On Nikon FM2, there’s a button where I can pull to advance the film lever without advancing my film. If your camera doesn’t have this function, one suggestion is to shoot all the first exposure on a roll, then re-use the same roll for second exposure.
However, by doing this, you have no control over where you want to place your subjects. Unless you remember the composition for every single frame of the first exposure.
The rule of thumb:
- Underexpose your first shot by -1 stop.
- Underexpose your second exposure by -1 stop as well.
- So this -1 plus -1 stop will add up to neutral (o).
- Otherwise, the details might be lost if you overexpose too much.
- And don’t overly underexpose the shot. I have done it and nothing came out. Blank.
Against white/bright background
A way to play with double-exposure is to use white or bright background for one of your shots.
How to achieve the following shots?
First, I took a first shot of my subject (humans) against a piece of white wall or bright sky. Then I just find an interesting pattern to superimpose with my subject.
The artistic visual has no limit and it all based on your creativity. For instance, as seen above, I used tree and patterned building for my second shots.
Just remember, the area you want it to show, you have to superimpose that area with a dark shade. Don’t superimpose that area (the one you want it to show) with another bright object such as another sky or bright wall.For the shot above, I tried to center the head for my first shot, then inverted the camera and do a second shot, also centering the head.
It’s not perfect but I am proud at the placement.
Just have fun!
The good thing about double-exposure is that it takes you forever to finish the roll. That’s because it takes time to plan each shot, find the best location and subject, and lastly, shutter clicking doesn’t equate to the frequency of film advancing. For example, you only advance your film once after you click the shutter twice or multiple times.
However, I would say don’t force yourself with the rules, just have fun!
I think recently there’s been some sort of film exchange going on where people exchange exposed films and see what kind of double-exposed photos come out of 2 photographers.
That’s definitely an interesting surprise.