Two in One: Double Exposures

I have now done two projects which utilized techniques of double exposure. The first was part of a collaboration between the photography students and the recorded music program. The group I worked with wanted to convey meanings of the subconscious versus the conscious and thus we chose to create a band picture where they conveyed both their outer selves and their inner selves.




We accomplished this technique by shooting in a dark room, setting the camera to Bulb mode, holding the shutter open and flashing a strobe twice, capturing the initial pose, then the next pose. The result looks a lot more technical than it actually was. Here’s a breakdown:

1) Setup your camera on a tripod where you want it and set it to Bulb mode. Set the ISO low, 100-200, and the aperture fairly low also, about f/5.6

2) Arrange a strobe with a softbox in the spot you want the light coming from (generally at a 45 degree angle)

3) Position your subjects and then turn off all the lights in the room

4) With the help of a partner, hold open the shutter and tell your partner when to flash the light (make sure your subject is ready), have the subject move, then your partner will flash the light again and you can release the shutter. If you don’t have a partner, you can always buy a release to flash the light yourself.

5) It may take some practice and messing with your settings and flash, but that’s the gist of it

**If you don’t have a big, fancy strobe light, you can always do something similar by flicking the lights in the room on and off quickly, or flicking a lamp on and off quickly. Maybe even buy a regular strobe light at Walmart and mess around with capturing freeze motion (Edgerton!)**

For my final vision project I did another method of double exposure by layering photos in Photoshop. This is fairly self-explanatory, but here’s an example of how I chose to only layer on the subject:




And, of course, there’s the original, gritty and uncontrollable method of layering exposures on film. You can either shoot an entire roll of film and then reload it and shoot some more, or you can double expose one photo at a time, depending on what your aim is. The thing you must remember is to expose a stop lighter for every exposure so that you do not overexpose your film. Here are some helpful links:

Try experimenting! Try everything! And once you’ve figured out double exposures, google “time exposure” and “light painting” and go from there. Light can do so many cool things when manipulated.

— Emily Ariel Byrski —


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