Written by Melese Miller
There are a lot of reasons why I love shooting film, but one of the biggest reasons is the ability to make double exposures. It really feels like painting with film, where you can come away with something 100% unique. Want to learn how? Let’s jump in.
Metering for Double Exposures
There are a lot of people who suggest underexposing by a half to a full stop when shooting double exposures. However, I don’t like the muddy shadows that come along with underexposing, so I shoot my film the same way I always do. This typically includes some overexposure so I can keep those shadows looking nice and the colors popping. Try out both to see what you like best!
Not All Cameras Have a Multiple Exposure Setting
It’s a sad reality, but some cameras don’t have a multiple exposure setting. Most rangefinders as well as TLRs require you to advance to the next frame which doesn’t allow for the fun of layering different images together. However, many 35mm cameras and most 645 cameras do, so if you’re not sure if you’ve hit the jackpot or not, check your camera’s manual or pull up a quick YouTube video to find out.
If you’re shooting 35mm with a camera without a multiple exposure setting, check out this tutorial on how to reload a roll of already shot film into your camera. The tutorial is for adding light leaks, but the same technique can be used for double exposures.
Which Image Goes First?
If you’re thinking it doesn’t matter which image you shoot first in a double exposure, think again. You might get lucky here and there, but if you’re wanting to consistently create the image in your head, it’s important to think about how this actually works.
Double exposures are created by layering one image on top of the other. The first image you take is going to fill into the second image’s shadows…let that one sink in.
A good rule of thumb is to remember that whatever you’re wanting to come through most in the photo should be shot second. The texture or secondary image should be shot first. It’s a little counter-intuitive, but, by thinking of your doubles in this way, you’ll be able to systematically create double exposures just as you’ve imagined them.
Shoot One Full Roll of Double Exposures
Here’s the thing about double exposures – – they’re experimental. If you only shoot one double exposure every ten rolls you’re never going to be able to determine what works and what doesn’t. Shoot a full roll & take notes. You’ll learn more about them and have a lot more keepers!
The only way we get better as artists is by immersing ourselves in the work of other brilliant minds. Dive into Pinterest & Instagram to think of different ways to create doubles.
Also check out my Pinterest board or the Shoot It With Film Pinterest board for even more double exposure inspiration:
Melese Miller is currently accepting clients for mentorships, and is always talking film & sharing tips and tricks on her IG account. If you’re looking to up your game and take your film to the next level, you can check out her film tips or book a mentorship here: https://www.melesemiller.com/mentorships
Leave your questions about double exposures below in the comments!
And if you want more double exposure articles and inspiration, check out all of our double exposure posts here!