Are you looking for a creative way to make your photos stand out? Double exposure photography is the answer. With this technique, you can combine elements from different photos to create a completely new image.
If you're interested in giving double exposure photography a try, read on for some great ideas and a Photoshop tutorial.
What is Double Exposure Photography?
Double exposure photography is a technique that combines two images into one. This can be done by superimposing one image over another or shooting two photos on the same film frame or digital sensor.
Double exposure photography can be used to create a variety of effects, from ghostly images to surreal landscapes. This technique is also great for adding creative flair to your photos.
Great Ideas to Make Double Exposure Photos
There are a few different ways that you can create double exposure photography.
If you're shooting on film, you'll need to use a camera to control the exposure manually. Set the camera to manual mode and take two separate exposures. Be sure to wind the film between each exposure.
Photo by Aiony Haust on Unsplash
Here’s a quick overview on how to create a double exposure in Photoshop:
- Start by opening the two images that you want to use.
- Place one image on top of the other and use the Eraser tool to remove any unwanted parts of the top image.
- Change the top layer's opacity until you're happy with the result.
- Flatten the image and save it as a JPEG.
Here Are Some Double Exposure Photo Ideas
1. Shadow and Light
Expose one film frame twice, once with a very dark subject matter and once with a very light subject matter. The contrast between the two will create an interesting effect that can be used to add another layer of interest to your image.
Photo by Norbert Kowalczyk on Unsplash
You can also do this in photoshop by using two different images, one that is dark and one that is light. By playing with the opacity of each layer, you can create a variety of different effects.
Use different colors to see how they interact with each other in a double exposure. This can be done by exposing one frame of film multiple times, using different color filters each time. The different colors will combine to create an interesting effect that can add visual interest to your images.
Alternatively, use different colors of light sources when taking your double exposures. This can be done by using colored gels over your flash heads or by shining colored lights into the scene from the off-camera. This can create some cool and unique effects that can add a lot of wow factor to your photos.
3. Use Cityscapes
Adding cityscapes into your double-exposure images can give them an urban twist. Try layering different buildings, streets, and skyline shots to create an exciting and unique image. Pay attention to the colors and shapes in your composition to create added interest and depth.
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
4. Use Nature as Your Muse
There are endless possibilities when it comes to using nature as your muse for double-exposure photography. You can capture the beauty of a landscape in one exposure and pair it with another image to create an entirely new scene. Or use birds, trees, flowers, or other natural elements to create interesting patterns and shapes.
5. Size Contrast
This can add another layer of meaning or symbolism to your composition. For example, you could use a close-up shot of a small flower in one exposure and then layer it over a wider landscape shot in the second exposure. This would create an image with both a delicate and grand feel, representing the fragility and beauty of nature.
Or, you could place a small figure in the foreground of double exposure, with a large building or other object looming in the background. This could symbolize the feelings of insignificance or powerlessness that we often feel in the face of vast and impersonal forces.
Photo by M.T ElGassier on Unsplash
6. Spirit Animal
One great double exposure photo idea is to capture your spirit animal. This can be done by photographing an animal in the wild and then superimposing your image over the top.
The results can be stunning, as it will appear as though you are one with nature. Try incorporating elements that represent yourself or your personality into the image to make this idea even more personal.
Photo by ALIOUI MA on shutterstock
7. Peek a Boo
Have your subject cover their face with their hands and then expose the film twice, once with their face hidden and once with it revealed. This will create an interesting effect where it appears as though the person is hiding and then suddenly appearing out of thin air.
Photo by Elijah Hiett on Unsplash
Step-by-Step Tutorial for Double Exposure Photography
1. Loading Image Into Photoshop
- With Adobe Photoshop opened, select the image you'd like to work with, and drag and drop it into the Adobe workspace.
2. Select the Model
- From the tools box on the left, select the "Quick Selection Tool."
- Click and drag on your subject to make a quick selection of the model.
- With your subject selected, right-click and choose feather.
- Set your feather radius as 0.5 pixels and click OK.
3. Create a New Layer
- Select the model image from the panel dock on the right and press CTRL+J to copy the selected model to a new layer. Name the new layer "Model 1".
- Still, from the panel dock, select and delete the first image.
- Go to the Tools box, select "Crop Tool," and expand Model 1's background. Once satisfied, click the check mark to apply the changes made.
- On the bottom right corner, go to Adjustments and select "Solid color."
- Choose a white color and press OK.
- Drag this layer under the model layer and name it "Background."
- From the menu bar on top of the screen, go to image, adjustments, and desaturate. (Keyboard shortcut: CTRL + SHIFT + U)
- Now it's time to import the second image. Just as before, drag and drop it in Adobe's workshop.
- Name it "Model 2" and change its opacity to 50%. This lets you see both images and allows for better alignment and positioning.
5. Adjusting the Second Model
- To flip the image horizontally, press CTRL + T, then right-click and choose flip horizontal.
- Play around with the image to find the best fit by dragging it around—press shift while dragging to make it bigger. Click on the checkmark when you're satisfied.
6. Layer Mask
- Change the opacity back to 100%
- Select "Model 1" While pressing CTRL, click on it to load the selection of the model we made.
- Select "Model 2" and click on the layer mask icon. This will create a silhouette of the model.
- Create a copy of "Model 1" by pressing ALT, left-click once, and dragging this copy to the top in the layers section.
- Change its blending mode from normal to lighten and reduce its opacity to 50%
- Apply a layer mask to the copy as we did before by clicking on the layer mask icon.
7. Deleting Unwanted Areas
- Now select the layer mask.
- From the toolbox, select "brush tool." Set the opacity to 40% in the toolbar.
- Depending on your photo, choose a color that matches the area you want deleted and set it as the foreground color in the toolbox.
- With the brush tool selected, start deleting the unwanted areas by clicking and dragging around the region.
- Now select "Model 2," and on its layer mask, start deleting to reveal the areas of "Model 1" you want to see.
- Now select the "Background" layer and double click on it. Sample color from your image and press OK. The color you choose should help make the image stand out.
- Go to "Model 2" and press CTRL + J to duplicate it. Proceed to then delete the layer mask.
- Change blending to lighten.
- To remove the unwanted visible parts, apply a black layer mask on it by holding ALT and clicking on the layer mask icon
- Select brushes, and with proper foreground color, brush around the parts you want to make visible.
8. Finishing Touches
- Select "Model 1 copy" layer and then choose solid color on the adjustments.
- Choose a color that will make your image stand out and press OK. Change the blending mode to multiply and set its opacity to 20%.
- Press ALT + CTRL + SHIFT + E to create a stamp visible layer, then desaturate it by going to image, adjustment, desaturation.
- Change the blending mode to soft light and set the opacity to 30%.
- And that's it.
Double exposure photography is a fun and unique way to show off your creative side while capturing a moment in time. With the right ideas and practice, you can create beautiful photographs with this technique.
We hope you've enjoyed this tutorial on how to create double exposure photography. Experiment with different subjects, settings, and techniques to find what works best for you.
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