ideas for photography - double exposure

Feeling Arty

As you may have figured out, this blog is big on photography. Andreas and I have been into photography for a long time but have only taken it seriously for the last couple of years. We’re super proud of our work and are starting to gain a great following. Last summer saw us very busy with wedding photography, and some personal work as well. We like to be a bit diverse, that’s why this blog came about. It’s a blend of gorgeous fashion, beauty and lifestyle captured in wonderful photography. 

We love fine art photography!

Ok, so we know that we can take nice photos of people. Lately I’ve been craving to do something with a bit more of a creative feel to it. Our photography is always going to have a natural look, we just have to add a bit of oomph to it. Going in the direction of fine art photography …

Motion blur and double exposure photography is nothing new, it just always looks more special than your normal shot. Motion blur, created intentionally, can generate a great mood or emotion. Double or multiple exposure photography can also end in beautiful, interesting results. It’s that difference of being your average photographer or being an artist.

A simple backdrop is important

The stunning results of this set of photos only took us a couple of attempts. Our first attempt was during a trip up to the Rhododendron Gardens up in the Dandenongs (I will post about this soon). It was raining a bit more than we would have liked. There are some nice photos of Autumn leaves and flowers but our artistic shots were not exactly what we were after! What we learnt from this session was to keep the backdrop very simple. A simple background allows the subject which is being photographed to be the centre of attention. Ideally it’s in a spacious photo studio or an open area, such as an empty carpark or large field. It’s all dependent on what you want to achieve.

So, disappointed with our failed attempt, we planned to head out the next day to give it another try. The persisting rain put a damper on that one! What to do next? We don’t have a photo studio to work with in situations like this.

But have a look at these shots … 

[big_text]Make sure you scroll to the end…[/big_text]

[big_text]I will explain how I created these shots. [/big_text]

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How did we create these photos?

As we do not have space for a permanent photo studio in our home it was time for some improvisation.

simple photo studio setup - all whiteOur Home studio setup for this fine art photography shoot:

We cleared out a corner of our minimalistic living room and created a white background to play with. Have a look at the picture to get an idea how it looked like.

This was still nowhere near enough room which we wanted but we would make do. Our dark floorboards was just not working with my chosen outfit, so we covered it and our aquarium with a huge white sheet. The creases of the sheet and the wall speaker would be easily removed with some editing and overexposing (anything between 1 to 3 stops).

We used directional light from our windows to light the scene. No flashes or other light modifiers were used. The sun is the best light source and it comes for free. Make sure the subject is lit by the direction of the sunlight  – the windows (the dirtier the better) diffuse the light nicely. Avoid direct sun!

Time your photoshoot so that you get the nicest light. You window light might be different in the morning compared to the afternoon.


The equipment

You don’t need much … it’s just important to have the camera on a tripod. As you will expose a bit longer to create motion blur you want to have the camera stabilised to create at least a few sharp sections.

We shot with a Canon 5D III – but you could do this even with a little point and shoot camera or your iPhone – you just need to be able to set the shutter speed manually – you want to create some blur

The technique – Motion Blur

get creative with photography - double exposure and blur

As the camera is fixed on a tripod I needed to move a bit. It takes a while and requires a bit of practise to get the results you are after. Play around and try different things … twirl, move to the right and left, just tilt your head, throw your hands in the air … do what you think will work.We kept the camera on manual mode and set the shutter and aperture.

You can also use shutter priority mode and just dial in the length of the exposure. As mentioned before we overexposed the shots (by up to 2 stops) a bit and kept the Aperture at 4.0 to 11.

The shots are exposed anything from 0.25s to 2s.The selected shutter speed will depend on your movement and you desired effect. Play!

In photoshop, we added a bit more room around me to give the illusion that we did this shoot in a large studio! As we shot on the white sheets it is easy to create this.

The technique – Multi exposure

ideas for photography - double exposure

It’s a technique of combining  two or more photos into one. This creates some interesting effects.

Double exposures can be achieved in different ways. Some cameras offer the double exposure functionality in camera – easy to use and no post processing necessary. Alternative you can use iPhone apps (such as Instant Blend, Dubble or Photoblend) or Photoshop. There will be different blending effects available on the program or camera you are using.

There are no rules around shutter speed or aperture … you can technically combine two absolutely sharp images or even two blurry shots. It will again depend on your desired effect.

I could now explain the different modes of double exposure (additive (which is the standard), bright, dark, average, and many more).
Start with additive – this works as old school film. Black parts of the first photo are ideal to expose parts of second photo. On a white background it will look washed out (which was the desired effect in my shots). But don’t worry too much … just play around and you will see what works best for you.

Silhouettes are a great thing to start with (need to try this next time) – the second image you will take will only show up in the dark areas of the first image.

Composition is important for these shots. The Canon 5DIII has a great functionality in Live View and shows you the overlay of the second exposure. When you do it in post processing you can adjust the pictures as long until they fit.

For my shots I did 2 different things – in some cases I took 2 pictures of myself in a different position and combining them into one. In other photographs I took a portrait of myself and then took a shot of some flowers to overlay them. Hope you love it!

Make sure you combine motion blur and double exposure shots for some great effects.

Styling for this portrait session

How lucky am I to get such beautiful photos of myself! I’ll take it as my Mother’s Day gift from my darling husband. I’m looking forward to producing a lot more photos like these. If you like them and have some half decent equipment, why not try it out yourself? Remember that the styling for these photos is super important to give them the ‘wow’ factor.

In this shoot, I am wearing a vintage Chessa Davis maxi skirt styled with a lace top from Dotti.