Double exposure portraits – by Clara Araujo
One of my favorite things about shooting film is that I can make multiple exposures, which are photographs that contain 2 or more images on the same frame. The ones I make are usually double exposures, which contain two images shot on the same frame.
Even before I started shooting film, I was already fascinated by this kind of image. They had a dreamy feeling to it that really caught my eye.
When you shoot film you’re never sure of what you are exaclty going to get, and when you make double exposures you can expect even more suprises than your regular portraits, landscapes or other stuff shot on film.
I started making double exposures without knowing much about exposure, I wouldn’t plan my shots at all, and didn’t really know about the cameras settings at that time. I started out on film photography using mainly point and shoot cameras that were fully automatic. However, when I got a Pentax Espio 160 from my grandmother she told me that camera was able to make multiple exposures, even though that was still a point and shoot(a really nice one btw). At the same time I also got a SLR, a Canon EOS 3000n, that I could also shoot multiple exposures with. Considering I was crazy for this kind of images and looking forward to make some more experimental work, I started making my first double exposure experiences.
Without knowing much about exposure and settings I would just look for things that I found beautiful or interesting and that I thought would look nice together. Many of these first tries looked pretty bad to be honest. I looked at some of them and couldn’t even understand what were these shapeless things supposed to be. They looked chaotic, in a way that was anything but good to look at.
I started to notice that the double exposures that turned out nice and actually looked like something other than blurry shapeless things were the ones in which one of the images shot was significantly darker than the other, or, at least, had an area on it that was darker. I noticed areas that were dark ended up being filled with details, textures, anything that had been shot and had more light on it. I started to really enjoy shooting flowers, trees and branches on my double exposures that way. I’d shoot a flower that was colorful and stood out in front of a dark green, and then photograph a tree, branches, or, sometimes, even people.
As time passed I started to photograph more with SLRs, and with that came the interest and the need to actually learn how to use a camera on a fully manual mode. I understood better what exposure was and then I realized that my double exposures would probably look nicer if each one of the images shot were 1 stop underexposed. I started paying much more attention to highlights and shadows, that are very important when you want to make double exposures.
At the moment I still absolutely love to photograph plants when I make double exposures. It’s still tremendously fun and experimental for me. I think my double exposures are now significantly less chaotic than my first ones, but I still get a lot of surprises from shooting them.
For people who like making double exposures or are interested in it but still haven’t tried, I’d really encourage them to try it. Look for light and shadow, colors, silhouettes, textures. You’ll definitely have alot of fun. And also, be prepared for surprises!
~ Clara Araujo
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