In fact once I was done making my first image I immediately began rummaging through my old holiday photos to see what I could combine to create something really spectacular.
This image for example was created using a photo I took in Costa Rica back in 2018.
What a great way to get a little extra out of those old holiday snaps!
Double exposures are created by taking two pictures and blending them together.
There are a variety of ways to create double exposures but the most popular is to use Photoshop to merge two images using a combination of Masking and Blending techniques.
Please note - This tutorial will require a little bit of Photoshop but don’t let that put you off. I will be taking you through the process step by step so that even if you’re new to digital photography or have never used photoshop before you can still create these amazing images!
What is a double exposure?
Let’s start by understanding what Double Exposure actually is.
In its simplest form a double exposure photo is two separate exposures blended together to create a third, more striking image.
In the analogue days this could be achieved by taking a photo on film, rewinding the film and then taking a second photo over the top of the first image.
With the advent of digital photography and the addition of photo editing software like Photoshop we are now able to achieve the same effect in new ways with the added bonus that these post production techniques let us finetune the final shot to be exactly how we imagined it.
What equipment do I need for double exposures?
Remember, It's not what you have in your hand, it's what you put in front of the lens.
Use whatever you have available to you. You don't need expensive equipment to create great images.
Here's what I used to create the shots featured in this tutorial:
Canon 24mm prime lens
Aputure AL-528S Amaran LED Lights
Manfrotto Compact Entry Pod
Setting up a Double Exposure Portrait
So to compliment the waterfall image I am going to create a second image of myself in portrait with a plain neutral background.
My projector screen is perfect for this as it creates a seamless white background.
This will help us once we put the image into Photoshop as we will eventually need to cut out the background.
Where to find stock images for Double Exposures?
What if I haven't been travelling all over the world to collect amazing landscape photos for my double exposures?
Try these websites below for free stock images you can use instead:
How to edit a simple Double Exposure
Now that we have collected both of our assets it's time to take them into Photoshop.
The first thing we will need to do is remove the background of the headshot.
To do this we will use the quick selection tool.
Once you've selected the tool now click and drag the tool across the subject you want to mask. In this case it is my head and shoulders. Keep clicking until everything is selected.
Now we have our selection we need to create a mask.
This can be done by clicking the 'add layer mask' button in the layers panel
Now that we have our mask I am going to introduce my second image.
I am going to place the time over the headshot and create a clipping mask.
This can be done by right clicking or control clicking the waterfall image in the layers panel and clicking Create Clipping Mask
Now we should have an image that is the waterfall in the shape of the headshot.
The problem now is that the waterfall has taken over the image and we want more of a blended final result.
To correct this we will now use the blending options in the layers panel.
Select the waterfall and change the blending option to 'lighten'
Now we have our double exposure!
It's likely from here you will want to make some tweaks. You can see in my image the waterfall has completely taken over my face and the green is hardly noticeable.
If you select the waterfall layer you will be able to move it around to better suit the image. Get the image into a position that you think looks good.
Don't worry too much about the face showing through right now.
Now we have the image in the right place we can tidy up the mask to help us see more of the facial features again.
Select the brush tool and create a hard brush with soft edges.
Make sure you have black selected as a colour and begin drawing over the waterfall image to reveal some of the facial features again.
If you make a mistake or are unhappy with your selection don't forget to Command+Z or CTR+Z to go back.
Now that I'm happy with this all I have to do is add a nice plain background to the image and I have my finished double exposure.
Can you use more than two photos in a Double Exposure?
As I mentioned above, the reason we call this technique a double exposure is because of the origins of how this effect was first created.
These days we can blend multiple images together to create some really amazing images.
To see more advanced double exposure techniques and how to use three or four images at once watch our Youtube video which goes into a lot more detail about this.
Are Double Exposures worth the effort?
Personally I love double exposures. It lets me add extra layers of meaning and feeling to what could otherwise be quite dull images.
I know from experience that if I want to show my friends and family my holiday photos they are more likely to look at this than my album of waterfalls and and tree-scapes. Lets be honest, once you've seen one you've seen them all!
Do you like my simple double exposure technique?
How would you use it?
Tell us on the message board below
The Profile Picture Challenge - Double Exposure Portraits
Now it's your turn.
For this challenge I want you to create a new social media profile picture using this tutorial.
If you can try to create both the images you use for the double exposure but don't forget if you can't create the background image you want there are the free resources I listed above.
Tag me @Silverboxmm in the final image so I get to see what you've created.
How can we help you improve your photography?
Don't forget to drop your suggestions for future tutorials in the message board below.
We want to know what you need to become better photographers.
More from Carl
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