In Camera Double Exposures

The first thing to note is that not all cameras have the double exposure function. More and more cameras are being released with the capability so chances are you can produce a double exposure but check your manual beforehand if you are unsure on where your setting is.

Some cameras enable you to select a base image for your double exposure. This is great because you then don’t have to shoot the images one after another. If you captured a great silhouette earlier that day you can go back and select that shot as your base image and then find some great textures to fill it with.

Can you see here where the second image has deliberately been over exposed to really define the outline of the silhouette.

Some cameras also display the base image when in live mode. My Nikon D7100 unfortunately doesn’t allow the use of live mode when the multiple exposure feature is enabled (so annoying) but the much higher end cameras will display the first image softly in live mode. This is awesome as you can literally line up the first image with the textures of the second image to get the perfect double exposure shot first time.

The first step to planning out your double exposure is to understand that two contrasting, one colour shots, often look best. For example if you were to blend a person with a cityscape you would ideally shoot the person with a white or black backdrop to keep it simple and to create ‘space’ for your cityscape to blend into.

Top tip: Shoot the person as a silhouette against a white background to provide even more contrast. Depending on your settings the second shot in the double exposure only usually fills the dark areas. Hence if you have a white background you can manipulate the areas you wish to be filled much more easily. If you get down low with your camera and shoot upwards so the silhouette is up in the sky it can often provide enough contrast.

The next step is to find the background texture. Color helps, and so do lines and complementary shapes. As with the silhouette, find a texture that can be captured on white or black backgrounds, with a minimum of surrounding clutter.

When you’ve found the texture to place within the silhouetted figure, you’re ready to make the composite. Dig through your camera’s settings to find the multi-exposure mode. If your camera allows go through your images and choose an image you want to use as the base image. Again, if your camera allows (most don’t), switch your camera to live view after enabling the multiple exposure mode and selecting a base image. The base image will be displayed on your LCD screen.

You can see the difference between an image that has been shot with a solid white/black background and this image which has been shot with the natural background of the surroundings of both shots.

If you are like me and your camera doesn’t allow some of these settings you will just have to do everything manually. Enable double exposure mode, Shoot your first base image then immediately shoot your second image (your texture image). The more you practice the more you will understand the right settings for your camera.

When you have shot your first image and then lined up and shot your second image your camera will automatically blend the two images.

Top tip: make sure auto gain is off. We all know the automatic stuff doesn’t produce the results we want!

Hopefully this helps you to produce in camera results with your double exposures! Get creative with your silhouettes and textures. Any questions just ask!

Do you want to showcase your work and get great feedback?

You can join over 2000 photographers who inspire, excite and amaze every single day. You can compete for prizes and get your work seen by people you want to see it!

Learn and grow!​

Enter your text here...