Multiple-exposure Guide

Introduction: Multiple-exposure Guide

Hi I'm Joshua, and I'm an amateur photographer in my senior year of high school. In my Media Arts class, we are currently wrapping up our photography unit, and the final project is to take a picture using a certain photography technique. I've decided to do multiple-exposure as my technique, and I had a lot of fun with it so I decided make a guide to let others know how I took my pictures!

It's quite an easy technique, but it will require good timing and patience. It creates an amazing image, so it's really worth all the settings wrestling and light chasing. You will need to take a lot of pictures to get the desirable result, so make sure you have a good plan, to avoid light moving too much during your photo shoot.

You will need:

  • A camera (preferably a DSLR, but anything is okay)
  • Two subjects
  • Areas with good lighting
  • (Optional) A reflective, see-through surface, ex. a window.

If you cannot use a DSLR, you will also need a program like photoshop (or anything that lets you play with layers and opacity).

Step 1: Choosing Subjects

When you're planning on subjects for your multiple-exposure picture, go ahead and look up some examples. I got inspiration from the ones that were silhouettes with plants and trees, because I thought it looked really nice. So just look at what you find the most interesting and set up what you're trying to achieve based on your desires.

For this guide I'm just going to use the example of silhouette with a plant.

Choose what you're going to make the main focus of the picture. This is what will be what you see first when you look at the picture. I used a stuffed animal, but it would work very well with a person or really anything with a defined line.

After that, you will want to find a plant or tree, preferably one with many branches and long lines, because in my experience it makes the overall picture looks very nice.

Step 2: Choosing How to Position Your Subjects

This is where things get tricky.

Position can be extremely annoying. Mostly for the most prominent subject. You will want to find an area with a nice amount of natural lighting. Make sure its not direct, because the best results come with soft lighting instead of hard lighting. You will also want a white backdrop, but if you don't have one just try to find the lightest colour you can. It's okay to use something white like cabinet (with details), because it doesn't affect the final image too much. I had some wild experiences trying to set up my stuffed animal, so try to have fun and do something more unique to make your picture that much more "you".

Typically, the background image will be outside because it's a plant or tree. Personally, I had no problems at all taking the picture. Just try to set up on a cloudy day to achieve the soft lighting.

As you can see, I was doing everything I could to try and get the perfect position.

Step 3: Setting Up Your Camera and Working With Exposure

The easiest way to do multiple-exposure is by using the camera setting, Multiple-Exposure.
I had a bit of trouble finding the setting myself, but the easiest thing to do is just look up the camera model you're using along with 'Multiple-Exposure". You'll either find the actual camera company's site letting you know how to access the setting, or if your camera has the setting at all.

When I was researching this technique, it seemed that to get the perfect image, you would want to have one picture with darker exposure and one with lighter, to balance the exposure and make the image looks nice.
However, in my experience, I got the best results when I used two images with slightly higher exposures.

Once you have the setting on, play around with the exposure via shutter speed, ISO and aperture. I find the "Triangle of Exposure" very helpful, as it guides one through how to achieve certain exposures, so it's a nice aid in getting the right exposure. A synopsis of that, and what I used mostly, was an ISO of 600-800, and I just played with the shutter speed (more than I did the aperture) to reach a 0.2-0.5 exposure. If you get a bit too low with the shutter speed (to the point where it's taking seconds to take the photo) then play around with the aperture as well. The rule of thumb I used is the more light that gets in the higher the exposure. Therefore lower shutter speed equates to more light, and a higher aperture also equates to more light.

The second picture is what I found to be the best exposure for my prominent.

Step 4: Taking the Photographs

Now that you have had your basic lesson on exposure, go take the pictures. Try to get the main subject filling approximately 2/3s of the image.

The background image should take up a certain amount, depending on what you are trying to do. In my example, the background image only takes up 1/3 of the image, and the rest being sky, to create an almost mystic effect. I'll add some examples of when the background takes up more than 1/3 of the image.

And you're done! The camera will merge the two pictures together and you will have your multiple-exposure image!

If you do not have the setting for multiple-exposure, go to step 5.

The pictures above are my favourites that I took using multiple-exposure. Personally, I like the first two the best.

Step 5: If You Are Using a Point and Shoot, or a Camera Without the Multiple-exposure Setting

Multiple-exposure, as you've seen from this guide thus far, is a lot like playing with opacity in Adobe Photoshop. That being said, you can ,do the exact same thing with tinkering with the opacity to create the same effect. Obvious if you have to mimic a technique in Photoshop it may not turn out as nicely, but it's still a way to do it.

The exact same rules apply towards taking the photographs and exposure and sure, but the only difference is you have to actually make the image as opposed to your camera doing it for you.

(Example of opacity retrieved from here)

I hope you have nearly as much fun as I did with playing around with the possibilities. Thank you for reading my guide for making multiple-exposure pictures! If there are any questions, comments or concerns, feel free to comment!

Be the First to Share


    • Puzzles Speed Challenge

      Puzzles Speed Challenge
    • "Can't Touch This" Family Contest

      "Can't Touch This" Family Contest
    • CNC Contest 2020

      CNC Contest 2020

    2 Discussions