In photography, double exposure is a technique in which a piece of film is exposed twice, to two different images. The resulting photographic image shows the second image superimposed or layered over the first. Using the double exposure technique, you may feel as though your photos have a haunting quality about them, but when done in just the right way, it can also elevate them from photos to beautiful works of art.
Though often created using a manual winding camera, digital photographs can be superimposed by using Photoshop as well. This can be done by altering the opacity of the two images and lining them up over each other. Here’s a tutorial called Create Double or Multiple Exposures in Photoshop that will show you how you can create your own multi-layered masterpiece. Also, check out Double Exposure Tips and Photos.
Creating Double Exposures With Photoshop
First things first, open your two images and make sure they are exactly the same size. You can adjust image size in Photoshop by clicking on the image menu and going to image size. Use the smaller of the two image sizes when making size adjustments. If you try to stretch a small image into a larger one, you will start to lose image quality.
Once you have your two new images, click on the one you want on the bottom. If you were taking a double exposure with a film camera, this is the picture you would have taken first.
The new layer is where you will place the image you want on top of the first one. Photoshop will prompt you with a few options for your top layer. The only thing you need to change is the opacity. I chose 50% as a starting value. We can come back to this later when we are making our final adjustments, but this is the standard opacity for double exposures. Now you can click OK.
Photoshop just created a new layer on top of the bottom photograph. All you need to do is copy the top photograph and place it on this new layer. Go back to the top photograph and click on “select” from the top menu. Pick “all.” You can also press control-A at the same time to select the entire photo.
Now click on edit –> copy. You are going to copy the photo and paste it on the new layer. Be careful about this. You need to make sure you click on the top layer in the layers panel or you will end up pasting the image on the wrong layer. You might even accidentally create a new layer. This could make the entire process even more confusing.
While I was looking for portrait ideas for my next assignment, I came across a series of photographs that show double exposure. I found it interesting and original for a self portrait shot. I wanted to share this with the class since our next assignment is a self portrait. However, there are some bad examples of double exposure portraits out there!