Posts tagged double exposure
In-Camera Double Exposure - Before and After Edit

I shot this in-camera double exposure at a wedding in Park City, Utah using the Canon 5D Mark IV with the 35L ii lens

I started off

shooting the portrait making sure that the background was overexposed slightly and the near side of the bride's face was slightly underexposed.   I made sure she was slightly angled towards me to get some depth in here face.


I noticed

the amazing floral designs in the middle of the tables during the reception and pulled some roses out of them.  I went outside and set my camera to "multiple exposure mode",  held up the roses and created the photo.  

Before & After \\ Double Exposure Wedding Edition

After I shoot weddings all of the images stay on my cards for several days.  I do this because I want to give myself the option to create double exposures for my clients but on my own time.  My clients always get a pleasant surprise when I throw in a double exposure photo like this into their final gallery.  It tends to set me apart as a photographer and shows my clients that I'm an artist first and also that I didn't forget about them as soon as I left.  It shows them that I care.  

This double exposure was actually a result of me feeling really down one dreary afternoon.  I'd been traveling a lot, my patience was short and I felt overworked.  When this happens, going out and making art for the sake of making art, is generally a quick remedy.   

I grabbed my card that still had around 4k photos on it from a wedding shot a few days before and headed out towards my favorite coffee shop.  Along that way I challenged myself to keep an eye out for those textures that I knew would create a great double exposure.

Here's the before and after of the double exposure that I delivered to my clients. 

Before and After (Double Exposure Edition)

Ever wonder what is the best time of day to shoot a double exposure? Usually it's the "golden hour" (the hour right before sunset) but this is not always the case with a double exposure photograph. One of the keys to shooting a great double exposure is to "silhouette" the subject. In order to do that you'll need the background (the sky) to be filled with a lot of even light and even color. If there are a ton of clouds that are covering 100% of the sky then it really doesn't matter what time you shoot because the sky will have a nice, soft, even look to it when blowing out the background. If there is a light cover of clouds where you can't see where the sun is but it's still producing a significant amount light then I would wait until just before the "golden hour" because otherwise, even on a light overcast day, the sun will still create harsh shades of highlights that will make your background inconsistent and uneven. Again, you don't want to deal with that in Lightroom or Photoshop.

Below is a double exposure that I initially thought about while I was shooting a wedding.  

I was doing the "getting ready" photos.  The bride had just gotten her dress on and I was shooting away.  I noticed the lights were off and the window was quite big so I moved into position to create a silhouette of her profile using the large window as the background.  

When after importing all of the photos into LR, I made sure not to format them off of my card.  

I waited for an "overcast" day then went out and shot.

I used the 5D Mark lll  35 1.4 Art & 50mm 1.2 for these shots.  

Before & After (Double Exposure Edition)

Sometimes photographers over-do it. I know I do. We try to fill the background with abstract interesting lines. We put stuff in front of our lens to get dreamy, cool effects. We increase the saturation a bit too much or add just a tad bit too much contrast. With double exposure photography it's the opposite. The goal in the end is to create a simple, beautiful fine art photograph. There's 3 things to consider in order to achieve this goal.


Subject, Simple and Subtle


Subject: You have two subjects in double exposure photography. The first subject is generally the outline or silhouette of the top half of a human-usually facing to the side in order to get their facial profile (there are always exceptions to this but in general this works the best). This is basically a portrait with a solid blown-out background and most of the human is underexposed. As you practice this you'll figure out how to light the subject in creative ways according to your style.

The second subject is the "fill" image. This is the second image you take to fill in the outline of the first image. It might be flowers, a tree line, building, mountains, etc. This image should be generally focused throughout the area that is doing the "filling". There should be a distinct texture with contrasting lines.

Simple: Your background should be simple. This means that when you shoot your silhouette portrait where you "blow out" the background, the area around the person should be free of other objects like trees, buildings, power lines, etc. The fill image is very abstract and difficult to decipher from your audience's perspective, so making sure that the background is clear of unneeded distractions is important.

Subtle: Your editing of double exposures should be quite subtle.  Some specifics elements to pay close attention to are saturation, contrast, exposure, highlights and shadows. A slight "matte" effect is generally a good choice when editing double exposures as well.

The reason for editing with such subtlety is that the image is already very abstract and interesting without color and contrast added. It has a surreal, fine art feel from the beginning. If we edit a double exposure just like a regular portrait then you run the risk of taking away from the "beauty" feel and creating an almost "illustrated" feel. We want this to still be photography when we're done so instead of increasing the usual editing elements we may need to decrease them.   I have a whole filmpack of presets that I personally use specifically for editing double exposures because the differentiation is so great. 


Recently, I was on a test shoot with a model and another photographer and we attempted to apply my 3 double exposure principles to craft a simple double exposure photo.  I shot this with the 5D Mark lll \\ 50L.  

The initial portrait settings were 1/250 ƒ2.8 ISO 100. 

The textured tree line settings were 1/100 ƒ4.0 ISO 100.



Here is the textured tree line shot:

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Before & After (Double Exposure Edition)

You folks seem to like double exposures so I thought I'd show you one for this week's before and after.

Double exposures are wonderfully complex and it takes tons of trial and error to get them right. As do all aspects of photography. Just showing you a before and after edit does not fully communicate the details of what goes into one of these (mostly while shooting).  If you'd like a detailed course on this let me know.   

Either way... 

I shot this with the 5D Mark lll 50 1.2 using the "multiple exposure" picture style mode.  I set my double exposures to "additive" because this simulates film photography the most. 

I take the portrait first then switch over to the ME mode using live view.  

I edited this with my custom preset then added grain in Alien Skin Exposure.

Here is the image taken for the tree line:

How To Shoot A Double Exposure With The 5D MARK lll & IV

As a "purist", I'm not much into special effects and a ton of "post-production" with my photography.  When I discovered that I could make multiple exposures "in-camera" in a few easy steps I was stoked.  Read on to learn how to make your own multiple exposure.

Steps to making a "multiple exposure":

1. Shoot the silhouette in front of a white, highly exposed background. Try to shoot later in the day when you can so you have more even light.  Shooting from a low angle is good here. 

2. Find the background/fill image.  Trees, shrubs, buildings and other continual shapes and lines work well. 

3. Go to "multiple exposure" mode in your DSLR (I use the 5D Mark iv).  Select the first portrait image (silhouette) and go to the "live view" mode.  The back of the screen will now give you a preview of your images when combined.  You also want to make sure that you've set the "multiple exposure" to "additive" in the settings.  This mimics the film technique of combining images. 

4. Take the photo.  try to put the facial features in a "full" part of the the texture and have it spread out into the back of the face and head.  

Do this 10 times.  Be open-minded and experiment.  You'll probably come out with at least 1 you like.