Secrets to a Great Multiple Exposure Revealed!

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Multiple exposures or MX is one of the main highlights of lomography. It's fun, creative and often ends up with mind-blowing results. But it's not just all about pressing your shutter more than once. There are also some technical tips that you must keep in mind. This guide is filled with guidelines to help both newbie and the semi-newbie lomographers alike to get that perfect MX shot.

Multiple exposures or MX is one of the main highlights of lomography. It’s fun, creative and often ends up with mind-blowing results. But it’s not just all about pressing your shutter more than once. There are also some technical tips that you must keep in mind. This guide is filled with guidelines to help both newbie and the semi-newbie lomographers alike to get that perfect MX shot.

I started out with lomography using a Holga TIM (Twin image maker). I was excited to try out doing multiple exposures, but to my dismay my pictures never came out the way I wanted them to be. Most of the time they’re either too bright that you could barely make out what’s in the picture or they just end up like a mess of two photographs. Here is an example of an over-exposed double exposure. This happens when you expose your film to too much light. Notice that the picture is washed out and there is barely any contrast between the two images.

Properly expose your film

Double exposure means exactly that, exposing your film to twice the light. Therefore, if you do not make some adjustments on your camera, then you will end up over exposing your film! Your camera has the “sunny,” “cloudy” and “very cloudy” settings. These are actually aperture settings. Aperture is the hole that lets in light into your camera to expose your film. The “sunny” has the smallest aperture while the “cloudy” setting has the biggest aperture to let more light in. To avoid over exposing the film, switch to the next smaller aperture before taking pictures.

On cloudy days, set your camera to “sunny” if you want to do double exposures.
On very cloudy days, set your camera to “cloudy” settings.

You may worry since most lomography cameras only have three aperture settings and one shutter speed setting (amount of time the shutter opens to let light in). What if it’s very sunny and you can no longer switch to the next smaller aperture? Don’t fret, because film can tolerate a certain degree of over exposure. This means that even if you over-expose your film, your picture will not be washed out and will retain a certain degree of detail. Just take note that black and white film can tolerate the most amount of over-exposure. Color negative films can tolerate more amount of over-exposure compared to color-slide film, while color slide films can tolerate the least amount of over exposure.

Notice the picture above. This picture was taken on a sunny day when I was at the port of Misamis Oriental, Philippines. Since there is no “very sunny” aperture for my Holga, I could no longer set the aperture to the next smaller size. Due to this, I ended up over exposing my film. The boat was rusty, yet you could barely see the rust in the picture. The picture also seems a little too light. But overall, the photograph still looks nice since my film can tolerate a certain amount of over-exposure.

A picture, more dominant than the other

Now that you know the principle of properly exposing your film, you can now play around with these aperture settings. When doing multiple exposures, if you want your first picture clearer and more dominant than the second picture, then you should set two different aperture sizes. For example, shoot a picture with a “cloudy” setting, then shoot your 2nd picture with the “sunny” setting. The picture shot with the “cloudy” setting will be more dominant than the picture shot with the “sunny” setting; which will seem more like a ghostly image.

This is where you can start being very creative. Above is a picture of a Tuk-tuk, a mode of transportation used in Bangkok, Thailand. It’s the perfect way to “move” around the busy streets.

Munich Airport? Nope, never been there. I don’t even have a visa. This was shot at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi’s airport. I took the picture of the airport, adjusted my aperture to a smaller one then shot a sign that says “Munich Airport.”

Plan your picture

As I’ve said, doing double exposures is not all about pressing your shutter more than once. To some extent, a little(or a lot) planning is needed. Did you see the winning pictures of the Multiple Exposure Rumble? These were not just random double exposures. Here are things to keep in mind:

Imagine how your picture will turn out. Ask yourself, how can I combine Photo A with Photo B to come up with Photo C? Avoid combining two very busy pictures because you will end up with a picture with twice the “busy-ness.”

What a mess!
If you really wan’t to take two busy pictures, then try the previous tip where one picture is more dominant than the other

  1. Take note of the black areas and shadows in your picture.
  2. Take note of the black areas and shadows in your picture.

Are you taking note of the Black areas and shadows in your picture? We need to emphasize this because this is probably the most powerful gun in your multiple exposure arsenal.

Lets start off with the picture of my puppy, Boris. Boris is a boston terrier. They are well known for their black and white markings because they resemble a tuxedo. Look closely at the picture above, notice that Boris’ black markings let the 2nd photo’s detail through? Shadows, the color black together with other dark colors lets the 2nd photos detail become more noticeable. In the picture above, you can clearly see the tiles and wooden floorings on Boris’ black fur.

How does this apply to your photographs? With a little planning, you can come up with stunning double exposures.

The first photo here is the picture of the man. I did this in a dark room, while shining a red light on him. This allowed my first picture to have a lot of shadows. Taking note of where the shadows are in the first picture, I double exposed it with my 2nd photo and viola! A photo half tiger, half man with shades.

  1. lighter parts of a picture shine through.

Here is a picture of another man trapped inside a leaf. The photo of the man was also shot in a dark room with a red spotlight that created a lot of shadows. The 2nd picture is that of the leaf. I made the leaf glow with color by shining a light behind it. Notice the veins of the leaf are bright. This allows the veins of the leaf to shine through, especially on the upper right hand part of the photo, even though there are no shadows around this area.

These are the tips and tricks I accumulated during my first 4 months of experience with lomography. I’m sharing these tricks so that newbie lomographers won’t waste as many films as I did. But above all, I’m sharing these tricks to help lomographers become more creative in their photography. Remember that lomography is an artistic and experimental form of photography. Do not limit yourself with the tips and guidelines I gave, yet challenge yourself to discover more tricks with multiple exposure!

Have you tried combining long exposures, flash photography and macro photography all in one photo?

I’m sure you can think of more thing to keep in mind while making double exposures, why don’t you share them here?

written by paperplanepilot on 2011-02-19 in #gear #tipster #shadows #beginners #mx #tricks #top-tipster-techniques #exposure #multiple #tutorial #art #guidelines #tipster #tips #ghost #image #guide

31 Comments

  1. adi_totp
    adi_totp ·

    very cool! thanks for sharing!

  2. jojo8785
    jojo8785 ·

    Awesome tipster!

  3. filby
    filby ·

    Good stuff!!! Pointers on this subject are much appreciated!

  4. milkberry
    milkberry ·

    Thankyou! I love double exposures, so this will really help! :D

  5. poletdiaz
    poletdiaz ·

    :) genial

  6. simonh82
    simonh82 ·

    Wow, really great article. Can't believe you were taking such well thought out shots after a few months.

  7. pia
    pia ·

    Thanks for sharing! :)

  8. ladycher
    ladycher ·

    Thank you so much for this article, it's really helped me understand it a lot more, and actually makes sense!! :) Thank you, hopefully I won't be wasting any more film now! Thanks again x

  9. piu
    piu ·

    thanks a lot for the tips ! maybe you also asked you that question : does the order of the exposures impacts on the resulting double exposure ? i think i wasted a full film because i shot first the exposure i wanted less dominant, but which finally was totally dominating ... and flurry ! maybe the question is totally stupid, but if someone had an answer, i would really appreciate !

  10. kisaki
    kisaki ·

    Thanks!! I tried MX once with my holga but they came out too light, as you said. I'll definitely try again with these tips in mind. ;)

  11. kisaki
    kisaki ·

    Thanks!! I tried MX once with my holga but they came out too light, as you said. I'll definitely try again with these tips in mind. ;)

  12. discodrew
    discodrew ·

    Does the aperture setting on my Holga 120 CFN actually work. I ask because I read that it does nothing and your apperture setting is f/13 regardless of what you set it too. Loved the article, I'm going to be reffering to it a lot I think. Thanks

  13. pepper-b
    pepper-b ·

    Great tip!!:)

  14. erdnusskeks
    erdnusskeks ·

    you're such a talented double exposure photographer! your pics are a-m-a-z-i-n-g.

  15. erdnusskeks
    erdnusskeks ·

    you're such a talented double exposure photographer! your pics are a-m-a-z-i-n-g.

  16. disasterarea
    disasterarea ·

    excellent article

  17. kristine
    kristine ·

    great article! I have been looking for a thorough MX guide. All other ones are somewhat incomplete! great work, now just have to go and do it!

  18. peropero
    peropero ·

    i LOVE the last picture.

  19. kristine
    kristine ·

    i found that if the darker shot is taken first, then it blends better with the 2nd shot. it might just be lucky coincidence

  20. mimifleuri
    mimifleuri ·

    Thank you so much for the tipster! Jus loaded a new film to try it all! Super.

  21. lucretia
    lucretia ·

    Cool tipster ! Thanks for sharing. It will come in handy. Hehe !

  22. nadinadu
    nadinadu ·

    great article! thanks! i really needed some help on my multiple exposures!

  23. paperplanepilot
    paperplanepilot ·

    wow, those are a lot of likes. :)

  24. monamarques
    monamarques ·

    The best tipster.

  25. peeciella
    peeciella ·

    will keep this in mind :)

  26. skinnyrencie
    skinnyrencie ·

    Just got my first lomo camera. I wanted to try double exposure right away, this would be a great help!

  27. jkhounlivong
    jkhounlivong ·

    Thank you for sharing these tricks!!

  28. alexheffs
    alexheffs ·

    Thanks! I really wanted to learn more about MX and this helps a lot!

  29. mariannesophie
    mariannesophie ·

    Thanks for sharing!! And I also think the order of the shots might influence the results, is this true? I don't have aperture settings in my Sardina, can I adjust the light some other way, like shutter settings?

  30. ubiesookie
    ubiesookie ·

    Thank you for the information!! Most of the stuff I already learned from trial and error, and I do believe that's the best way of getting to perfection! I look forward to many more double exposing!

  31. suminayeoh
    suminayeoh ·

    Thanks for this, really awesome!

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