Even in this Photoshop era of layers and composites your DSLR’s double exposure mode still has an important creative function. It enables your sensor to record more than one exposure in the same frame and create a single image by overlaying them.
It’s great when you want to introduce movement, such as flowing water, but you can’t get your shutter speed slow enough in one exposure alone.
Another great feature of your double exposure mode is the ability to instantly create ethereal fine-art photos and creative images by combining all manner of subjects, textures and shapes into one image.
Of course, a double exposure can be achieved using Photoshop layers, but by performing the merge in-camera you’re introducing a margin for error, which sometimes can be a useful creative tool.
Aim to include subjects with lots of contrast in your double exposures and avoid composing bright subjects at the same place in each frame.
Begin by shooting the main subject, which should always be the brightest element, using your viewfinder focus points as a reference to avoid overlaying other bright subjects and ruining the effect. Go for two or three exposures for a subtle effect.
Using double exposures to record movement using traditional landscape photography, shoot around eight exposures fixed on a tripod and shoot the scene with ‘Auto Gain’ on: this prevents each individual exposure from collectively over-exposing the final image.
Step by step how to make a double exposure in-camera
01 Switch to multiple exposure mode
The multiple exposure feature is generally found in the menu system of most digital SLRs. Check online or have a flick through your camera’s manual to find out where yours is lurking.
02 Select the number of shots you want to combine
Some camera models may offer a wider range of shot options than others, but keep the number low. Any more than three or four and the composition is likely to become cluttered.
03 Set the ‘Auto Gain’ feature
For general semi-automatic exposure modes, you should leave the ‘Auto Gain’ feature switched on. For more creative manual exposures, however, you should turn it off so you have the ability to fine-tune the overall exposure.
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