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Double Exposure in Photography

A great thing about photographers is that they never settle on simple ideas. They are always yearning to find more creative and experimental ways to enhance their skills. One of these techniques is double exposure. It lets you compose an image by blending two different images. If you are wondering how to achieve double exposure in photography, just keep reading.

What is Double Exposure?

Double exposure is a creative technique that allows you to blend two images. The basic principle is that you get two images with different exposures. Then, you refer to one of them as a base image and place the other on top of it. 

When talking about the film, you first had to take a photo and then rewind the film. After that, you exposed that portion of the film to another image. When it was developed, the second image was superimposed on the first one creating a successful double exposure. 

However, gone are the days of such manual labor. The rise of DSLRs and digital cameras has made photography so easy that film has almost become obsolete. Now, you get two different methods of producing double exposure in photography. 

Before we move on, there is one more term that you should know about. If you use superimpose more than two images, then it is called multiple exposure. After going through this article, you should be able to create that as well.

Why use it?

Now that you know what is double exposure, it is equally important to understand the artistic importance of using them. Double Exposure was first seen in the 1860s, during that time they were only used as a way of making a person appear multiple times on a single image.

As the camera technology progressed and photographers became more creative, the true value of double exposure was exposed (pun intended!).

Mostly, we use to get a surreal vibe in the image. When we superimpose two different images, they invoke a feeling of a dreamy and otherworldly setting. Moreover, we can also use it to convey symbolism by using similar or even contradicting images.

Amazing double exposure photo

Photo edited in Lightroom.

Select a Concept

The first step of learning double exposure is to understand that although you can get pretty good spontaneous double exposure images, it is always best to think of your theme beforehand. A widely used concept is to superimpose a portrait with an abstract image or even a landscape. Landscape on a landscape is also a great theme.

However, the main idea is that you should try to convey a message or even an idea with the help of double exposure.

Double Exposure with a Camera

The first method to get double exposure in photography is to directly use the in-built feature of digital cameras. 

Firstly, you need to check if your camera supports multiple exposure capabilities. If it does, you are in luck. In case it does not, proceed to the next method instead of getting annoyed.

Another important thing to realize is that different cameras have different procedures for handling double exposure. The basic principle is the same that you need two images, but the process might be different. Therefore, it is better to get familiar with your camera’s function by giving a quick read to the manual.

Now, let us talk about the basic principle. After enabling the Multiple Exposure mode, shoot your base image. In some cameras, you also get the option to select the base image from the memory card. If the camera allows, you can do that as well. Next, you just shoot the second image, and you are done.

However, the hard part is to properly compose and align the images together.  

Double exposure photography with cityscape

Double Exposure with Photoshop

Another method of obtaining double exposure in photography is by the use of Adobe Photoshop. Photoshop lets you seamlessly blend two images in a few simple steps. 

Firstly, you need to open the base or first image in Photoshop. After that, you need to select the subject from that image. We can make this selection by using the pen tool. Afterwards, we need to eliminate the background. For this purpose, create a layer mask. 

Next, add the second image and make sure that it fits the first image. 

Now comes the main part. To blend the images, use Screen Layer for the second image. Basically, we commonly use blending option for double exposures. We reduce the opacity of this layer so that it also reveals the base image .

Lastly, you can even select the subject layer and bring it to the top of the second layer. Set its blending mode to Lighten. 

After that, you can fine-tune the elements, such as contrast and color balance to enhance the final image. 

Conclusion - Double Exposure in Photography

Now, that you have learned how to get double exposure in photography, it is time to apply these skills in your images. The best thing about this technique is that you can let your creativity go wild, so go and experiment!

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Have a nice photoshoot! 

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