Double exposure photography is as old as the genre itself. The first double exposure photography emerged during the 1860s.
The technique features multiple images exposed onto a single frame with the final product being those images combined into one.
As with pretty much any photographic trick you see today on Instagram it was the Victorians that first invented it.
The analogue technique for double exposure photography is very simple, all you need to do is take two pictures before winding on your film.
Double exposure photography with instant cameras
The reemergence of Polaroid and instant cameras in recent years has once again brought double exposure photography back into popularity.
I have a small collection of instant cameras but my favourite by far has to be the Mint InstantFlex TL70.
With a design rooted in the classic twin lens camera, the TL70 is an engineering masterpiece that effortlessly combines elegance and functionality.
What sold it to me was the twin lens design and the retro look. It’s a fun camera to photograph with and looks great on a bookshelf!
First Instax experiments with double exposure photography
We decided to start off in the garden on a bright sunny day. This isn’t ideal as Instax film has an ISO rating of 800. This means the film is very sensitive to light and can result in images being overexposed in bright sunlight. On the flip side it makes Instax film great for use indoors.
We began choosing our subjects, my daughter stood on a table facing the sun to create an image which she’d be half in the shade.
We took the exposure and moved onto the next subject. The Mint InstantFlex TL70 has a nice feature that you have to manually eject the film after exposure. This makes double exposure photography very easy.
The second exposure was some trees, we pointed the camera in the air for this to get some sky in the picture too.
The results wasn’t too bad but as suspected it was rather over exposed.
From this first test it was obvious that we needed a primary image with lots of contrast between light and shade.
The choice for our second Instax image was some shadows from a tree on a fence mixed with another tree shot with sky.
This image worked much better and the finished print was better exposed than the first shot.
Double exposure photography with an iPhone
I began searching for a stand alone iPhone app that specialised in double exposure or that had it as a main feature. I did find a few but they were mostly paid apps.
Then I noticed a feature within Snapseed which is an app I use all the time.
The Snapseed app has various double exposure photography blend modes and control over the opacity of the overlaying image.
With Snapseed you don’t actually take pictures with the app. You import images and combine them together. This gives you plenty of control over your double exposure images.
Finding the right images
We need two different types of images. The first needed lots of contrast between light and shade so our shadow and silhouette images were perfect for this.
The second image we needed colour and texture which is exactly the kind of images we found in Finding Patterns and Find Interesting Textures projects.
Creating our Double Exposure images in Snapseed
To begin with we edited our primary images to add more contrast. To make the effect work better we also converted it to black and white.
We opened our secondary image first in Snapseed and then chose the Double Exposure tool.
Then we added our black and white primary image. We experimented with the different options to get the kind of image we were happy with.
We also experimented with some of the other images we had such as the shadow pictures.
Other shots that worked included an image of my daughter standing on a tree with plenty of clear sky around her.
There are plenty of Snapseed tutorials For Double Exposure photography on YouTube so it’s worth having a look if you want to learn more. Here’s a good one I picked out.