If you think that photo manipulation appeared only when Photoshop was created, you are very mistaken, double exposure on the camera is just one of the old trick that photo manipulation brought to the table long ago. And of course all this was done practically in the hand and inside the develop booth. But this is a subject for another article because today the topic is simpler. It is very easy nowadays with digital technology, we can create photos with double exposure in the camera without having to go to Photoshop or Lightroom Classic CC or any other software if you wish.
But since you can’t always jump in the water without knowing how to swim, at least a little, we’ll rather go through some basic requirements for double exposure photography first.
What is a double exposure photograph?
Double, or multiple, exposure photograph is nothing more than combining two or more images in the same photo. Not like the composites we make in Photoshop that are also a way to put images together to create something new. Double exposure photography is something that has existed since the analogue era and with it we can get several unusual and artistic results using this feature.
Today we have powerful cameras capable of doing this right on camera without any problems, or we can use some software or app capable of doing this.
How to shoot double exposure images with digital cameras
It is totally possible to make double exposure photos using our digital cameras nowadays. Unfortunately not all cameras have this capability, so it’s worth seeing if your camera has this feature before continuing. Even if your camera doesn’t have such a feature don’t worry you can still use some program to do such manipulation.
If you have the feature on your camera you’re ready to go. Here are some super useful tips for double exposure photography:
- Think before you act. Think about what you want to reproduce with this photo. Keep in mind which is the concept of the final image.
- Compose carefully. If you already know what message you want to get through, it’s time to compose the photos. Don’t forget that your story will be made by two photos.
- Use contrast. Shoot images that have something very different between them. Use an image that is darker and then one that is much brighter.
- Keep trying. With double exposure photography the results can vary greatly. Experimenting is the best way to achieve better results.
- Learn how to handle your equipment. Being familiar with your camera is something super useful always. And knowing where the limits of your device are will help you figure out if you need a new camera or not, probably not.
For those who have Canon or Nikon cameras life is a little easier, since they are the brands that dominate the professional market both of then are stuffed with options and settings. And this is the path we gonna follow. If you have any other camera do not worry because if it has this feature will not be much different.
Making double exposure photos on Nikon cameras
In Nikon cameras there are two ways to create double exposure image. At Nikon cameras we have how to shoot each of the exposure, or shoot separate exposure and then combine them straight into the camera. I will use as a reference a Nikon D610 to show the menus where you need to enable double exposure.
Go to the Shooting Menu Then to the Multiple Exposures menu. In the menu you will find more than one option to work with. In the case of the Nikon D610 you can turn on or off the feature, you can choose the number of exposures, at max of 3, and set the operation will be only for a photo (single) or for a series of photos (series).
Here’s a short list of Nikon cameras that have this feature.
- Nikon D4S
- Nikon D5 CF *
- Nikon D5 XQD*
- Nikon D500*
- Nikon D5300
- Nikon D5500
- Nikon D5600
- Nikon D610
- Nikon D7100
- Nikon D7200
- Nikon D750
- Nikon D7500
- Nikon D810
- Nikon D810A
- Nikon D850*
- Nikon Z6*
- Nikon Z7*
- Nikon Coolpix P900
Some of these cameras you will only find in the used market as they have been discontinued. The cameras masked with * are the latest models of the brand.
The second way to make double exposure photos directly on Nikon cameras is just an overlay of images in the camera’s own retouching menu. First take normally the photos you would like to overshoot. Then go to the retouching menu:Then find the option to overap image. Choose the first photo you would like to use and then choose the second photo.
Underneath each photo you have a gain adjustment, adjust until you achieve the desired result in your image. In the preview thumbnail you can see how your photo will look.
Making double exposure photos on Canon cameras
To achieve dual exposure images using Canon cameras the procedures are basically the same as those for Nikon cameras. Only the locations and some menu names change.
Press the menu button and go to the 4th Settings tab.Go to the multiple exposure options and choose enable. Go to multiple exposure control where you’ll have two options, additive and media. Use additive for exposure compensation that will be added cumulatively for each image. The average setting automatically applies negative exposure compensation to each image. Try and choose the best setting for each case. Set the number of exposures that will be made and the operation will be continuous or just for an image.
Now just shoot, you can use the liveview to see the combined exposures so far.
Some of Canon’s cameras capable of double exposure;
- Canon EOS 1DX
- Canon EOS 5D Mark III
- Canon EOS 5DS
- Canon EOS 5DS R
- Canon EOS 6D
- Canon EOS 70D
- Canon EOS 7D Mark II
- Canon EOS R
Other camera brands
As the life is not only made of Canon and Nikon cameras, there are other camera brands on the market and many of them can also do direct double exposure on the camera. If you have any of these cameras below look in your manual and see how to make images with double exposure.
- Fujifilm GFX 50R
- Fujifilm X-T20
- Fujifilm GFX 50S
- Fujifilm X-A10
- Fujifilm X-A3
- Fujifilm X-A5
- Fujifilm X-E2s
- Fujifilm X-T3
- Fujifilm X-H1
- Fujifilm X-Pro2
- Fujifilm X-T100
- Fujifilm X-T2
- Fujifilm X100F
- Fujifilm XF10
- Pentax 645Z
- Pentax K-1
- Pentax K-1 Mark II
- Pentax K-3 II
- Pentax K-70
- Pentax K-S2
- Pentax KP
- Pentax Ricoh GR II
- Sony Alpha A7R III
Double exposure using Adobe Photoshop.
It is also possible to recreate the effect of double exposure using softwares, the most famous of which is of course Photoshop. The effect is very similar to the effect created on the camera, but there are those who argue that the effect created using softwares is not a double exposure itself, and to some extent I agree with this. But at the end of the day what really matters is the end result.
I’m preparing a tutorial that will show how to do double exposure using Photoshop, so hang on next week the article will be on the air and the link will be here!
Photography with double exposure: On camera vs Photoshop
If you have the desire to use double exposure in your portfolio I advise buying a camera that can deliver you this feature, it’s a great way. But keep in mind that making double exposure photos directly on the camera is something that requires trial and error until you get an acceptable result. The results will be more organic and less controlled and the artistic level will depend on your imagination and skill with the camera.
Photoshop is extremely powerful and there are several ways to get the same result. The fact that you have complete control over what you’re doing makes it a great one for situations where you don’t have much freedom in the end result.
There are also several apps that can help you achieve just about the same result. They are by no means as capable with Ps but they can be much more fun and infinitely easier to use.
Some examples of such applications are:
More about multi-exposure photography
In addition to using multiple combined exposures to create surreal images we can use the same technique to create more realistic images. As is the case with the HDR technique that uses multiple exposures in order to preserve all the details of the photo.
Not all cameras are able to work well in situations where we have very contrasting lighting. Soon we can use one exposure only for the light parts of the photo, another for the neutral parts and a third for the dark parts of the photo.
By mixing these 3 exposure we will have an image with high dynamic range, or HDR image. We can use both Lightroom and Photoshop to do this.
My favorite software to work with HDR images is the Aurora 2019 from Skylum it is absolutely fantastic to do this.
You can download the trial version of it here and if you want to buy use the RIXMASCA discount coupon and win $10.00 off.
Regardless of what your intention is to use double exposure or not a new technique is always useful to have on your tool belt. Using the technique directly on camera or using Photoshop is just a matter of personal preference and is always worth the effort in the end. If your idea is to have more surreal images it’s worth trying to use double exposure to achieve it.
When it comes to dynamic range using multiple exposures we don’t always have anywhere to run except HDR and for this we have great tools like Aurora 2019 nowadays.
Any comment or doubt you already know what to do right, just write down here.
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