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How to Shoot Double Exposures

written by: Misty Faucheux•edited by: Amy Carson•updated: 3/15/2011

Like double exposure shots, but not sure how to make them? Well, you just need the right camera equipment and settings. Learn how to shoot double exposures in this digital photography tutorial.

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    Taking Double Exposure Shots

    Double exposure happens when two different photographs overlay each other. Generally, this is a mistake, but it does make for an interesting photograph. While this was most commonly seen with film, occasionally a corrupt memory card can merge two photographs. But, you may want to learn how to shoot double exposures to create some different-looking photographs.

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    Ditch Digital and Go with Film

    To do this trick, you are going to use a film camera. It’s really hard to create double exposures on digital cameras. So, go dig out your old film camera from your closet. Next, before you can start shooting your double exposures, you need to change your camera settings. If you don’t, then you will only get some really overexposed images.

    Change the ISO rating to nearly twice the regular value. Or, if you are not sure how to do this, then change the compensation controls. You must underexposure each shot by at least one stop. Or, if you want a particular shot to be the foreground, then only underexpose that image by half a shot.

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    Now, you need to setup your lighting. Double exposure photographs require a lot of lighting, but not oversaturation. So, don’t even think that you’ll just go out on a really sunny day and take your shots. You’ll just end up with really overexposed shots.

    You still need to follow the same rules as when you take regular photographs: use enough light to illuminate your image, but not enough to Double Exposure over-saturate it. So, still shoot for taking images either in the morning or late afternoon.

    You may, however, get better double exposure results in a photography studio where you can control the lighting. You will have to experiment.

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    Taking Your Shots

    Next, you want to start taking your images. The first image that you want to take is your foreground image, followed by the background image. You must not wind your camera to the next shot after you take your first shot since you want these images on top of each other. If you have a manual wind camera, you will have to shut it off. If you don’t know how to do this, read your manual for more information.

    After you take your images, develop your film. You can see how the images came out and decide if you need to tweak your settings. You are definitely going to have to do some experimentation before you get this technique perfect. Depending on your camera, you may actually have a multiple exposure setting. Check for this since it will save you a little work.

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    Software Double Exposure

    If you don’t have a film camera, you can also use software tools to create this effect. You just need to play with opacity and superimpose the images over each other. But, it’s just more fun to do this effect with a real camera.

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