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Working with multiple exposure

Overlaying exposures onto one frame is an extremely fun and creative way of using the film to create visual stories, abstract images and unusual textures.

The great thing about using cameras with manual film wind-on is that you can control the subjects and composition of the photo. The disadvantage is the fact that if you have an idea that involves subjects that are separated by a significant geographical distance, your camera can be ‘on-hold’ for a while.

Automatic cameras that haven’t got multiple exposure function built-in, that require re-winding the whole film to the beginning again to start overlaying the shots, give you a greater feeling of anticipation and surprise because of the random nature of the process. However, be prepared for more wastage - let’s be honest, unless you note down what photos you have taken it is hard to remember every single frame on a roll of film so some are bound to be worthless.

There are also cameras (like a very basic Split-Cam) that have been designed with multiple exposures in mind by offering a part cover of the lens. Mind you, it is not difficult to do it yourself with any camera.

Given the right environment  (e.g. subdued light, low sensitivity of the film, wide aperture range and a static subject) a composition consisting of more than 2 exposures can be achieved without overexposing the frame.

Double exposure is less demanding providing you remember a few basic tips. Always shoot the darker subject first. Or at least ensure that that darker parts of your first photo are those areas of the frame where the second, brighter subject is to appear. 


Don’t shoot the sky first if you want to use it as a background for an object, otherwise  the sky light will overpower the exposure. Take the picture of the object first. Using the sky in this way, especially when there are clouds, will create a dreamlike story.








Use slow film to add some interesting texture to your photo, point at your subject, then point at a dark place.


Overlaying darker background can make photo look more like a painting without using a Photoshop.


For more abstract result, all you can do is just turn your camera upside down and shoot.

Finally something that you would not hear from a photographer very often: darker and gloomy days are perfect! Sunny days are great for photography but not so good for doubles unless your camera allows you to downgrade the exposure.Having said that, it is difficult not to feel creative on a bright sunny day. So if you want to try, set the narrowest aperture and avoid having the sun right behind you (and of course in front of you!) for the first shot. The sky may be too bright to play with so it is best to focus on earth.



The great thing about double exposure is that when some of the basic technical rules become your habit, you can focus entirely on the creative idea and discover new tips along the way. So, make the most of the light and share some great projects on our site!