The double exposure (or double exposure) is a technique as old as photography which allows superimpose two images captured at different times to make one. Inherited from the era of film photography, this process has been simplified and brought up to date via overlay options on digital cameras and software such as Photoshop and others. Opening photo: Denys Argyriou
To proceed chronologically, at the origin of this technique there is a very simple principle. On old film cameras, there was no automatic mechanism to advance the film after each shot. In fact, to create a double exposure photo, it was enough to take a first photo, then a second without advancing the film between the two, the negative thus displaying two different scenes superimposed. Everyone who has already used this type of device has already tested this situation more or less voluntarily.
Photo : Elijah Hiett.
With the arrival of the first automatic mechanisms on film cameras, on some the motor had to be disengaged, while on other cameras a multiple exposure mode was added. The arrival of digital has further simplified the technique by making it possible to preview the editing or to easily carry it out in post-processing using software accessible to all. All these advances have certainly democratized this technique, but have also caused the loss of the complex and random side that made it so beautiful – and so rare – at a certain time.
As you will have understood, whether you work in film or digital format, there are various ways to proceed to create a multiple exposure photo, even if the principle always remains the same.
→ With a film camera with a manual mechanism or a multiple exposures function, the process is simple: just do not advance the film between the two shots for the first system, or remember to engage the mode dedicated before the first trigger for the second.
→ With a film camera that has an automatic film advance mechanism, but no multiple shot mode, double exposure is technically impossible. However, some boxes are equipped with a button, often located below, which releases the film in order to rewind it and in fact disengages the automatic advance motor. Then just tap on it and take your first shot. The mechanism being disengaged, the film will remain in the same position and your second photo will be superimposed on the first.
Technical interlude… For a successful double exposure photo on film, as you will print light on your film with each new shot, remember to underexpose each photo by at least 1 EV so as not to overexpose the whole thing .
Photo : Mr Wong.
→ For the more adventurous, and especially those who develop their own films, it is possible to create a double exposure in the darkroom. To do this, you must superimpose at least two negatives in the dedicated support of the enlarger and make your print. In principle, this method is quite simple and obvious; in practice a little less. Even if it allows you to preview your rendering without having to scan your negatives and go through software, doing so also loses the original and random aspect of double exposure with a film camera.
→ With a camera offering an Overlay mode – this is the case with the vast majority of current models – the same principle prevails as with film. Once this mode is activated, you will take two separate photos (or more), then the box software will stitch them together to display only one. With the help of digital viewfinders and/or live view, it is even easier to take this type of photo since it is now possible to preview the stitching even before the second trigger or to go back if the rendering is not to your liking.
→ For the most creative, those whose digital camera does not offer a dedicated shooting mode or those who need their camera between the two photos that will be stitched together, it is possible to reproduce this technique post-production. processing. You will need software that allows layer management, such as Photoshop or any dedicated software. You will then have to import all the photos you want to superimpose by adding them by separate layers. All you have to do is play with the opacity of each one in order to make those in the foreground as well as in the background appear.
Photo: Imani Clovis.
Simple technique in theory, but complex and risky in its aesthetic realization, the double exposure has been simplified and brought up to date with the arrival and democratization of digital photography. And even if you still need a certain mastery of the composition before reaching a deliberately satisfactory rendering, all these methods should allow you to easily experiment with this practice and let your creativity grow.