In-Camera Double Exposure Photography | Tabitha Park | Skillshare

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In-Camera Double Exposure Photography

teacher avatar Tabitha Park, Product & Food Photographer

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Overview of Methods


    • 3.

      Silhouetted Portrait - Image Overlay Mode


    • 4.

      Ghost Photo Multiple Exposure Mode


    • 5.

      Manual Long Exposure + Flash Method


    • 6.

      Enlight iPhone App


    • 7.

      Autodesk Pixlr Android App


    • 8.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Learn 3 different methods for crafting an effective double exposure photo in-camera without the use of Photoshop.

I'll talk you through the process for capturing clean, versatile silhouetted portraits, and share tips for what makes great textured overlays. 

I'll show you how to create double exposures even if your camera doesn't have "Multiple Exposure" or "Image Overlay" mode.

Lastly, I'll go through my process for making a successful double exposure photo using a $4 app for the iPhone.

Meet Your Teacher

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Tabitha Park

Product & Food Photographer

Top Teacher

Hi! I'm Tabitha and I teach photography classes. I'm a lifestyle, product, and food photographer living in the Pacific Northwest with my husband, our 17 gorgeous chickens, and Smallcat! I love plants and coffee and naps. In my spare time I'm a reckless gardener (irl and in Stardew Valley), and unapologetic hobby starter. Currently hyperfixating on crochet, embroidery, and spoon carving!

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1. Introduction: Hi. I'm going to show you how to make a double exposure in camera, no Photoshop necessary. I'm going to go through two different menu methods, as well as a manual method involving a tripod along exposure and an off-camera flash. Double exposure photography has been around since the late 1800s. Back in the day with film, we had to take two pictures on the same section of film. I say we like I actually did that, I didn't, I've taken film photos before, but not a double exposure because my camera won't let me. Most film cameras have this setting where when you take your picture, you have to advance to the next section of film before you can take another picture and that's so that you don't accidentally take two pictures on top of each other. So the people that want to take two pictures on top of each other have to go about shooting a whole roll of film, rolling the film backup into the canister and then putting it back in the camera and shooting it again. But you want to take everything half as bright so that the pictures layer together and aren't overexposed. Because if you're exposing the film twice, you're getting twice as much light that you would be accustomed to. So you shoot a whole roll of underexposed photos and then another whole role of underexpose photos on the same film, and then hopefully they turn out. We have it a little bit easier than that. A lot easier. With the rise of digital photography and modern advancements, we can make double exposure photos effortlessly in seconds and I think that's partly why there has been such a surge in popularity for this technique. So I'm going to dive right in and if you don't have a DSLR yet, that's fine. I will show you an app that you can download for your iPhone to do double exposures on the go. So yeah, I'm Tabitha, I photograph families, and babies, and plants, and I also teach a bunch of classes here on Skillshare. I'm really excited about this one. So let's do this. 2. Overview of Methods: Double exposures are made when you have two images and you blend them together. Typically, the first one is a portrait and the second one is a texture. The texture shows through in the shadow area of the portrait. That's what I like to call the silhouetted portrait shot. You've seen the shot everywhere, I'm sure. It's where you've got the blown out white backdrop and then you've got the cut-out of the person's face, or their head, or shoulders, or body, and then there is a cool texture in the shadow area, basically. I'm going to give you some pointers on what makes a good portrait and what makes a good texture for these photos, and then I'm going to show you how to do it, how I make one of these pictures in my kitchen and it's pretty easy. It's very easy. We'll get into that in the next video. Then, the second way to do a double exposure that I'm going to talk about in this video is the ghost photo. That's where you got a scene and then there's a person and their half opacity. You can see through them, but you can still see them, if that makes sense. Those are actually really easy. Two shots, one right after the other and you're done. It's super simple, very effective. People see these pictures and they're just like, "How did you do that?" There's a lot of wow factor with very little work involved, if that makes sense. Then, the third is what you're going to get, the accident shots, the happy accidents, the experimental photos. That's where you blend two photos together and you end up with a picture you actually really like, it's really artsy or there's a suggested feeling to it that's not quite as clean and crisp and clear. They're the ones that you kind of spend a while looking at because you're like trying to understand where the two pictures meet and how they interact with each other. Let's just jump right in, and I'm going to show you how I do my silhouetted portrait in my kitchen. 3. Silhouetted Portrait - Image Overlay Mode: Here we are in my kitchen. This is the best spot in my house for taking these silhouetted portraits. I have this backdoor window that leads outside, and I've got this really thin $10 IKEA curtain on here. You could use a bed sheet if you wanted to. This is really simple. It cleans up our backdrop so it's just really bright and really white, that way the floating head portrait stands out. I'll have my model step in here really quickly. What we want is to shoot directly into the window so that the light is completely behind your subject. We'll have her turn sideways. This will be our shadow area in her hair and in her shoulder. This is where our texture of photo number 2 is going to show through. The light wraps around her face a little bit that way this area is where you'll see her facial features and you'll see that that is recognizable as a person. Then we'll take lots of different pictures. We'll have her look up then look down and around, we'll have her pull her hair up or put a hat on, just try out different things like step back. You could do full body shots, you could do really close up shots, just get a good variety of portraits. That way, when you're trying to put your image together after the fact, you have a lot to choose from. We would shoot and shoot and then we'll go make some texture pictures. For a good texture photo, you want something that's clean, simple, not too much contrast and is actually a little bit dark. I found for the silhouetted portrait, a dark photo usually works really well. What I like to do is wait till the sun goes down and there's still a little bit of light left and then go through and photograph pictures of plants or the side of a building with a little bit of the blue leftover from the sun's setting. Architecture works really well for this or sea life. Cars going by lights. You can photograph twinkle lights. I like to photograph them with blur out my lens so I get these glowy orbs and those create a cool mood to the pictures. Just try things. See what works and see what looks cool. A rainy day, if you're inside a car and you've got rain on the window and there's traffic coming towards you. You're in the passenger seat, you're not driving, but you can take pictures through the window with the raindrops and that will create a cool light spectrally look to it. If you wanted to photograph flowers and foliage, it helps to go with something that's not too white because you're going to lose the details in the face with white. If I'm photographing flowers or something, do it inside the house. Take close-up pictures of really vibrantly colored flowers. That helps give your photo a different color scheme, basically. If it's not too textured or grungy looking, that typically ends up in a really effective looking photo. It takes a lot of practice but I'll show you along the way photos that worked well for me so that you can get an idea of what to go for. Once you have all your portraits done and all your textures on your memory card, they're all in raw format, we are ready to put them together. This is the back of my Nikon D7000. I just hit the menu button and this brings us into our main menu. This column of icons on the side, we want to navigate over to and then down all the way to the Paintbrush, which indicates the Retouch Menu. Once we're in the Retouch Menu, we scroll down to Image overlay and what we see is a spot for two images and then a preview. This is awesome because it shows a preview of what you are working on. Let's go ahead and pick our first image. We just select that and then pick. I want to work with this one. Then for image 2, this is what's going to go in the shadow areas. I have these little twinkle lights on here that I think are really cool. I hit "Overlay" and I can get an idea of what the picture will look like. This isn't finished yet. This is just a preview. I don't like how the lights are right on her face. I'm going to go back and I'm going to click on this to choose a different twinkle light photo and see if that helps. Perfect, I actually really like where the lights are laying here. I think that the picture's dark overall, so I'm going to go back and adjust it. Usually with my portraits, I like to adjust it to the point where in this preview the background is white. I want it to be as white as possible so that I don't get any of this data showing up in my background, if that makes sense. I amped it up all the way to two and then Image 2, you can adjust. This will make it brighter or bringing it down will make it darker. They'll be less pronounced still. I'm going to kick it all the way up and take a look and see what that looks like. Awesome, it's light and airy. I really like the way that looks, so I'm going to hit "Okay" and that will save it right to my memory card. It is still a raw file so I can pull this into Photoshop or Lightroom and I can edit it, bring up the tones, give it some contrast and make it a really effective image. That is image overlay mode. One thing to keep in mind when you are filling up your memory card. I'm just going to show you, we're going to pick this picture, and then you have to go all the way through all your pictures. If you have hundreds of thousands, you're going to spend a lot of time navigating and navigating. I actually cleaned off my memory card and threw these photos back on it so that this process wasn't so annoying to watch. Keep in mind, normally it does not look exactly like this. Normally I have 30 pictures of one texture and 30 pictures of a person and I have to navigate through all of them. That's totally normal. Just play with it and see what you can come up with. The nice thing is you can swap photos out. You can change the way that they look by lightning and darkening. Then once you're happy, again, hit that "Save" button and you are good to go. 4. Ghost Photo Multiple Exposure Mode: To do our ghost picture, what we want to do is pick a scene and put our camera on a tripod. For this picture, my scene is chair by the wall, and then my model is draped along the chair. The first picture, you want a picture of the model in the chair, and then for the second picture, you want to have them get up gently out of the chair as to not move anything around, because it's going to have to match up exactly when the two pictures blend together. Then after your second picture, the camera's automatically going to blend them. To start, you want to open up your Menu and then go into the Shooting menu and scroll all the way down to Multiple Exposure. Click that. You can change it from 2-3 pictures, but I like to keep it at two. Then Auto Gain, it helps with exposure. So if you leave auto gain on and you take a properly-exposed photo, the camera will do the math and figure out how to light the photos basically so that they are not overexposed when you're done. If you're taking a really dark photo, I've read that sometimes it helps to have auto gain turned off. But I always use it on and I always just take pictures that are properly exposed while I try to. Anyway, once you hit "Done", this turns Multiple Exposure Mode on. Now the next two photos you take will be the two that it merges together. The first photo, you're going to take of your model in position, and then you're going to have them get up, walk away. The second picture you want to take of just the scene. You don't want anything to move between the time your model sits in the chair and when they leave, because you want the two pictures to match up as closely and precisely as they can. Then after the camera's done taking the second picture, it'll automatically blend them together and show you the result. It's very fast and very, very satisfying to see. It just show up quickly, and you can see how you did. That is what we'll do. 5. Manual Long Exposure + Flash Method: All right, what if you've come this far and you reach the sad realization that your camera body does not offer you image overlay or multiple exposure mode. What? Yes, this is possible. Older cameras and even some newer cameras, they've taken this feature out because they've done research and it turns out people aren't using these features. Basically what you do is you set your camera up on a tripod and you do a long exposure, five seconds or 10 seconds and you want to be in a dark room. This room is way too bright for this picture because if I had a 10 seconds exposure, it would just be pure white at the end. Imagine that the room is dark and you can't even see me. What I would do is if this was a self-portrait, I've been using a tripod and I would just hit the flash button myself so I get in position. Flash, that's my first exposure. Flash, that's my second exposure and then my camera's done taking the picture because I took a 10-second exposure. It was waiting for light that whole time. What you'll see is a dark picture with two of my face in it, if that makes sense. This is how you can make a double exposure and you can do the ghost portrait method this way. If I photograph me in the scene and then photograph the scene without me, that's a way to do the ghost portraits without multiple exposure. You can add a cool retro feel to this, which is what I've done with these pictures of my baby sis. I have used colored gels. This is a colored gel. It's a piece of red cellophane. I don't know why it's called gel because never ever will I describe this as gel-like in any way, but that's what the people are calling it so I call it that too. They come in lots of different colors, usually different shades of orange for white balance. But I would use my party gels for this. What I do is I wrap my light source with my gel like this. You could tape it on. But because we're doing one with and one without, I'm not going to, and then I do one. Get ready, my exposure is going. Take my first picture with this blast of awesome redness and then my second without. So what I get is a picture of my face and if I just move my face a little bit, I get this double exposure. One of them is red and awesome. If you look at these pictures and you're like, I don't know what's going on exactly here but I dig it. That is how they've done it. Yeah, this is called the Nikon Speedlight SB 700. I got this for weddings and I bounce the light off the ceiling. But if you don't have one of these because they're expensive, maybe you have one of these. This is an old film flash that my darling parents gave to me. They're like, "You like photography, here have all my old film stuff." Thank you because this works great for this. I would just punch the flash, let it charge up again, punch the flash again. Okay, you don't have any flashes. That's fine. Surely you have a flashlight. You can just turn it on and then move, turn it on and then your picture is done. If you don't have a flashlight or your flashlight is not bright enough or whatever, you can use the flash on your phone. You can have a friend turn the lights on in the room, turn them off, you move, turn the lights on, turn them off. You can experiment with tons of different things. This is definitely experimental method. It can produce some pretty epic photos, but you do have to be patient with yourself and patient with your camera's capabilities. Work together to find a good way to make an awesome picture and you will be pleasantly surprised by the results. 6. Enlight iPhone App: To make double exposures on my iPhone, I use the Enlight app. Upon launching, it'll show you your last session and then you can start over. To start over, you drag in here, you can change albums, I'm going to change it to my double exposures album. In here I have saved a bunch of different pictures that would be good to show you. We're going to pick one that is not edited yet, this one. Right here we have our unedited image. I usually like to edit the picture, the base picture first a little bit. If you open up the image drawer and then hit Adjust, it'll take you straight to the preset menu. In here you've got different presets. Usually I stay away from presets, but they're crisp preset, actually does a really good job, it brightens up the photo a little bit, adds a little bit of contrast and sharpness to make the picture look really crisp. I feel like when you take pictures with your iPhone, especially backlit photos like this, the image can tend to get a little bit cloudy or muddy, so the crisp filter looks really good on this. Anyway, at the bottom we have our three little icons, preset tools and mask. If we scroll over to tools, we can edit this manually. I like to hit the basic tab and brightness, I'm going to bring up the brightness just a little bit, maybe even leave it down. What I want is for the white to be perfectly white and then they'll still be some detail in the face. I'm going to up the contrast just a little bit until I'm happy with how it looks. I feel like that looks really good. Now I can hit the check mark in the top corner to save it. Next, we're going to close our image draw and open up our tools draw. Inside the tools draw we have a little icon called mixer. If we click that, it'll give us the option to pick our image number 2. I'm going to choose this picture. This is Gamla Stan in Stockholm. I'm going to stretch it so that it fits our picture. Then we go to the Tools menu, inside here we can choose our Blending Mode. You can just toggle between each of the different blending modes till you find one that suits the picture. Usually for me, I find that screen works the best, sometimes lightened or plus lighter. Usually I just stick with screen. It says 100 because that's how much the filter is being applied. If you drag down, you can take off how much is in there or add it all back. I'm going to stick with 90, and then I'm going to hit back into the Double Exposures tab. This is the pictures that I could have chosen from, but it lets me scroll the image around until I'm happy with where it's at. I'm going to try and line up this dark area of the picture where her eyes are so that we can see her eyes and her mouth. I think that's super effective, so that is what I'll go with. I'm going to hit the check mark to accept it. Right now that's where we're at so far, and then I'm just going to edit it a little bit more. I'm going to close the tools draw and open up the image draw, go back to adjust, and this is where I will find tune the image to my likeness. I'm going to bring up the brightness just a little bit and then add more contrast. In fact, I might bring the brightness back down. There we go, maybe like right there. Once you're satisfied with how your image looks, you just hit the check mark in the top corner and then you can hit this little box with the arrow right there and that will save it. You can save the photo right to your phone, and it is all done. That is the picture that we made. This app is awesome. It's $4, but I think it's so worth it. It not only can do double exposures, it can do so many other things. If you hit this little fox tab in the top corner, this will bring you the Enlight backstage area. You can get a tour of the app, there's tutorials, you can change your settings, all that. This app is super awesome. I highly recommend it. I've been very satisfied with how it works. It does not have ads or in-app purchases. It's very clean, crisp, effective, tons of support on the app. If you have questions, they have a really great Instagram page where they post pictures that other people have made so you can go there and get some inspiration. Anyway, that is the Enlight app and I highly recommend it. 7. Autodesk Pixlr Android App: Okay. So after scouring the Android Market for an app that I could recommend to you guys, I came across Autodesk Pixlr. This app is free and it's awesome for double exposures. This is the launch screen once you open up the app. I just hit "Photos", that's the center button, and it'll pull up my recent images. This is the picture that we're going to edit today, this portrait. I picked one with a really, really bright white backdrop because I feel like this is going to be the easiest for me to edit on this app. Next, at the bottom, we have a little series of icons. The first one we'll open up are Tools menu. In the top right corner, we see our Double Exposure icon. We click that. Next, we tap at our second image. I'm going to pick this image. It's a nightscape of Barcelona that I took actually with my DSLR and emailed it to myself so I can use it here for this demonstration. Stretch it to fit the image, and then you can toggle through the blending modes down at the bottom. I usually stick with Lighten or Screen. Screen actually looks really good because it helps preserve the details in the face. At this point, it's nice to move your image around and make sure you're satisfied with where everything sits in the picture and then you can address, if it's too strong, you can bring it down. I usually leave it all the way up and then hit the "Check mark" to accept. At this point, you can save this picture and call it a day, or you can add a filter to boost the colors. So this opens up this massive Filter menu. These are the different filters within each of these categories across here, the little circle bubbles. I usually go to the fifth one over. This is the subtle filters. I like Sanna or Ingrid. We're going to use Ingrid for this picture. It just adds a little bit of contrast, saturation, just that extra punch I feel like the image needed. Then, I usually toggle it down just a little bit to take the edge off of that filter and then hit the "Check mark" to save it. Then at this point, I feel really happy with this image and I am done, so I'm going to hit "Done", and it will pull up a menu where I can save it or post it straight to Instagram. I feel like Autodesk Pixlr is an awesome, seamless app. It has other features that you can do to edit your pictures further but for the sakes of a double exposure, this is the best that I could possibly find out after trying like six different other apps. Autodesk Pixlr for the win. Now, you can edit and make double exposures on your Android. Yeah. 8. Final Thoughts: I just wanted to take a minute to say, thank you. Seriously, it means so much to me that you took my class. I hope that I was able to convey these concepts in a way that you can understand. I hope that you feel confident and comfortable taking double exposures, and experimenting with your photography, and posting your finished project in the project section. I want to see your pictures, I want to see what you create. So definitely don't be shy. If you have any questions or comments for me, throw those in the discussion section, so I can see those. That's about it. Thanks, again.