How many times have you heard photography allows you to capture a single space? One moment? Would you like to photograph two spaces? Two different moments in one image? Of course, it is possible! Thanks to the technique called “Double Exposure.”

  • First, let’s review very quickly its history to understand what it is about and where it comes from.
  • In addition, we will mention some tips to take into account when performing a double exposure with an analog camera.
  • Finally, we are going to tell you how you can imitate the double exposure effect with Photoshop in a few simple steps.

Definition Of Double Exposure

As its name indicates, double exposure is a procedure involving the impression of two different scenes in the same negative, giving as a result, a complex image superimposing moments and landscapes that would be impossible to observe directly in reality.

History Of Double Exposure

In its beginnings, on more than one occasion it was considered “a mistake.” Mainly in the first decades of the photography invention.

In the early nineteenth century, it was a common practice photographers clean their plates with chemicals, which allowed them to save and reuse their materials. If the plates were not completely clean, sometimes someone’s silhouette or face portrayed in a photograph that was not his/hers, causing as a result images with figures certainly ghostly. This is how spirit photography accidentally emerges.

Discovering Double Exposure

If you think about it carefully, it is a clear antecedent of the double exposure. Unintentionally these photographers realized that they could shape more than one shot in a single photograph.

Many decades later, several photographers consciously decided to experiment and play with their photographic devices to explore other medium expressive and creative possibilities. Rehearsing and studying how to achieve what we know today as the double exposure.

When some novelty comes to the public, it is taken up by industry. And many of the last generation analog cameras were manufactured with a built-in mechanism allowing reloading the shutter without the necessity of dragging the film and allowed to shoot more than once on the same negative. Also, many Lomography cameras are prepared to perform a double exposure.

However, the vast majority of analog cameras were not designed to allow multiple exposures. Because they only allow shooting after the drag lever has been triggered.

Tips For Analog Double Exposure

If your camera is one of those not having a built-in mechanism allowing perform multiple exposures, you will have to pay attention to the movement that the rewind lever makes every time you move the drag lever.

So, when you take a photo and want to expose another in the same negative, you’ll have to try by rewinding the film a bit.

For example, if you believe the rewind lever rotates 160° each time you move the pull lever, you would have to rewind the roll the same 160° and a little more if we take into account the material tension.

Hazard In The Double Exposure

Keep in mind that it is a technique in which chance plays an important role. At first, it is a bit of trial and error, but images will improve, especially with practice.

It is possible that the first images do not fit perfectly with each other. Don’t get frustrated if this happens.

Because of this, you will surely get very interesting results.

Another slightly more controlled way of doing a double exposure is to reload the roll into the camera once you have finished all your exposures.

We recommend you marking the film when you first place it on the receiver reel, to try to match the shots, so you can reuse the film.

Keep in mind, that when you re-shoot on a negative that was previously exposed, the parts that will react chemically better to the light in the second exposure will be those areas where less light came in. That is, in the shadows of the first scene. Therefore, we advise you to try that at least one of the shots that you are going to superimpose has high contrast, for example, to make a counter-light.

You can also try overlapping portraits of people with landscapes. In which case, ideally, the background of the portrait should be smooth and luminous. Another trick to achieve a good double exposure is to underexpose a little each of the shots you take.

How To Imitate Double Exposure With Photoshop

The first thing you need to do is select two different photos. Both with the same orientation – two horizontal or two vertical.

To start with and to make an interesting visual match we suggest you, on one side, select a portrait. The best thing is it would be a high contrast image, with a white background to facilitate the process.

And on the other hand a landscape. They may be mountains, lush trees, dry branches, dusk, or a view of your city.

Step By Step: Double Exposure
In Photoshop

Then, you will open both images in Photoshop. Each one as a different layer. The top layer should be the portrait image.

By default, the merge mode of the layers will always be “normal.”

You are going to display the “layer merge” tab. And you are going to change the mode from “normal” to “plot” for the portrait image.

You will automatically see how you will have a similar effect to double exposure with analog camera.

You can also play with the opacity of each layer. Move the photo from the base just in case you want to adjust the image.

Blur the edges of the photographs with a mask to melt them more naturally. And try many of the infinite tools the software offers you.

In this way, we hope to inspire you to go through with your camera and explore your creative possibilities. What are you waiting for to perform your own double exposure?

We invite you to see our other articles on Photographic Effects.


You may also be interested in:

Product Shot: Tips And Tricks To Get Started

Essential Tips For Making Portrait Photography

Guide For Landscape Photography: Tips, Tricks And More

Equipment And Tips For Performing Wedding Photography

Step By Step For Developing Photos B&W At Home