Double Exposure Experiment: Alternate Ways to Create Double Exposures with Film by Jennifer Stamps

Double exposure with a shadow and leaves - Film Photography Double Exposures by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film
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Written by Jennifer Stamps

Double exposures are a lot of fun. They can help an ordinary scene feel extraordinary. They can also give an image a dreamy or even magical feeling.

I’ve always accomplished my film photography double exposures in-camera. Either shooting a frame twice or running a roll of film through my camera twice.

But did you know it’s possible to create double exposures after you’ve photographed and developed your film?

Yes, you read that correctly. It’s fun and pretty simple to do.

Using a Scanner to Create Double Exposures with Film
Using a Scanner to Create Double Exposures with Film
Using a Scanner to Create Double Exposures with Film
Double exposure with a girl in the foreground and a woman in the background - Film Photography Double Exposures by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film
Using the scanner method

Methods

I tried this two ways: with a flatbed scanner and Photoshop.

The flatbed scanner was the first method I tired. It’s more hands-on and a little more complicated.

I use the Epson V600 scanner to scan my negatives. (Find the Epson V600 on Amazon)

The Photoshop method was pretty easy. Below, I’ll share step-by-step both methods. If you need Photoshop, you can find it on Amazon here.

Double exposure with a shadow and leaves - Film Photography Double Exposures by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film
Using the Photoshop method
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Using a Flatbed Scanner to Create Double Exposures

Find the negatives you want to scan and take them out of the storage sleeve. Note, they should be the same size, either 35mm or medium format, so they fit in the negative holder correctly.

Find the two images you want to combine. If they are on different parts of the strip of negatives, it will make it a little more complicated, but you won’t need to cut them down if you don’t want.

Place one of the negative strips in the negative holder. Place the second negative strip on top of the first strip. Make sure you match up the two images you want to combine.

Negative holder - Film Photography Double Exposures by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film
Two negatives layered in a negative holder

Place the negative holder with both negative strips on your flatbed scanner and scan as you normally would.

You might need to adjust the exposure or contrast more than you normally would. But assuming the negatives are exposed correctly, you likely won’t need to edit much.

Double exposure with the Eiffel Tower - Film Photography Double Exposures by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film
Using the scanner method

Using Photoshop to Create Double Exposures

I’ll admit – I don’t know Photoshop at all. If I ever edit my images, it’s in Lightroom.

With that said, this was insanely easy to do. So if you have Photoshop, this might be your best option.

Another bonus with this avenue is that it’s very easy to combine medium format with 35mm – you just need to resize in Photoshop when you place the images.

Double exposure with clouds - Film Photography Double Exposures by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film
Using the Photoshop method
Double exposure with a girl and the beach - Film Photography Double Exposures by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film
Using the Photoshop method
  1. Import one of the images into Photoshop that you want to use for your double exposure.
  2. Click File>Place Embedded, and find the second image you want to use for your double exposure.
  3. At this point, the bottom layer on your Photoshop file with be your first image, and the second layer will be your second image.
  4. Click on the second image and change the opacity. I’ve found that somewhere in the 50% range is a happy spot. But that’s up to you as the artist. It depends on how prominent you want that second image to be.
  5. Click File>Export, and export as you normally would.
Photoshop screen - Film Photography Double Exposures by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film
Reduce the opacity of the second image on your Photoshop layers

Getting Creative

As if this little project isn’t already creative enough, you can make it more so…

Try using an in-camera double exposure mixed with an additional photo to create a triple exposure image.

Have fun with a photo of clouds or a tree. You can even combine film soup images for some really fun results.

Double exposure with clouds and a girl playing - Film Photography Double Exposures by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film
Triple exposure

Making it Special

Lately, I’ve been going through and scanning old family negatives. Moments from way before I was even born. It’s been a really fun project to do during quarantine.

My Nana – one of my favorite humans and best friend – is thankfully featured in so many of these. She passed away in 2018, so these photos are extra special.

So I thought it would be neat to combine some of these historic family photos with photos I’ve taken of my daughter.

The results are different, but very special.

With this new trick, you can create double exposures that you never had a chance to photograph in camera – combine generations old photos with current photos. How fun is that?

Double exposure with a woman holding a baby - Film Photography Double Exposures by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film
Combining an old family photo with a new photo using the Photoshop method
Double exposure with two children - Film Photography Double Exposures by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film
Combining an old family photo with a new photo using the scanner method
Double exposure with people - Film Photography Double Exposures by Jennifer Stamps on Shoot It With Film
Combining an old family photo with a new photo using the Photoshop method

Thank you so much, Jen! Jennifer is a regular contributor here at Shoot It With Film, and be sure to check out her other articles, like 5 Film Cameras Under $50 and Develop B&W Film with Coffee! A Caffenol Developing Tutorial.

You can also check out more of Jennifer’s work on her website and Instagram.

Leave your questions below about using these alternate methods to create film photography double exposures, and check out all of our film photography tutorials here!

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Jennifer Stamps

Jennifer Stamps is a regular contributor for Shoot It With Film. Find her other articles here, such as Olympus OM-1 35mm Film Camera Review and 5 Film Cameras Under $50.

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Blog Comments

Thanks for the run down. I’ve never done the ‘place embedded’ method in PS, I will give it a try! I’ve only done it with dragging the 2nd photo over and then changing the layer mode, such as to overlay, but that risks changing both layers and shifting colors. Also, I don’t know why I never thought of stacking the negs on the scanner, I used to do that on the enlarger. ah hem….adding clouds into a blank sky…

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