Double Exposure

The theme for last week on my 52 Week challenge was Double Exposure.

This is an interesting topic as there are many ways to create a double exposure – either in-camera, by illusion or in post processing so I thought it warranted a separate post rather than the usual entry as shot of the week.

Winter HDR-DE

So, how do you create a double exposure image? Well there are several methods;

In camera

This was the traditional way of creating a double exposure, by literally exposing the film twice. People who use film will remember often doing this by accident with cheaper film cameras as you would forget to wind the film on, and press the shutter for a second time.

Eventually manufacturers were able to link the film winder to the shutter release such that you could only expose a picture after first having wound on the film from the previous shot.

Interestingly, my Lomo camera has a button on the bottom to override this function specifically so that you can take a double exposure.

With digital cameras it’s impossible to accidentally double expose as each press of the shutter saves a new file, however there are some digital cameras that have a ‘Double Exposure’ setting or feature built in which allows you to mimic the old film process. One of the best things about this is that you can see on the live view screen what your DE shot will look like – something you could never do with film.

By Illusion

What do I mean here? Well it’s possible to take a shot of a highly reflective but transparent surface (like glass) and give the impression of a double exposure as you see both the reflection and what is behind the glass.

Margate window

In Post Processing

These days, this is probably the most common way to produce a DE image. Even basic photo apps on phones often have a DE option. I like to use Pixlr, which has a DE option and various blend modes to enable you to get the sort of effect that you want.

Of course tools like Photoshop allow more creativity when producing a DE image as you can mask and blend as much or as little as you want.

Finally there is another way, using Photoshop, that I think I invented.

It’s called HDR-DE and makes use of Photoshop’s ability to create High Dynamic Range images by blending several shots of the same subject that have been taken at different exposures to capture detail in both highlights and shadows.

You can use the ‘Merge to HDR’ feature from Adobe Bridge, but instead of selecting a number of shots of the same subject, select shots of different subjects. As long as they are all the same size, Photoshop will try and merge them together.

The dialogue box that comes up allows you to try a range of options and styles and can lead to some interesting effects including the DE shot at the top of this post that I took of wintry scenes a couple of years ago, and the shot below which I took last week for the 52 Week theme.

Champagne HDR-De

It is a bit hit-and-miss at first until you begin to learn which images merge well together but it’s great fun to try.

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One response to “Double Exposure

  1. Pingback: TBT – January 2013 | paul j chapman photography·

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