Multiple exposures are a signature of the Lomography look, and making them is some of the most fun you can have with analogue photography. There’s something about the thrill of creating an effect entirely “in camera” that never gets old.
But although multiple exposures are very popular, as anyone who has given it a try will know, it takes some practice to really get consistently good results. One of the masters is undoubtedly David Elalouf, aka @Dudizm. The long-time Lomographer has been wowing us with his surreal doubles for years, so we finally decided to pick his brain and discover his insights into creating the effect.
David's first piece of advice is to find a camera with a multiple exposure function and then to get to know your camera's settings thoroughly. “Master your camera as much as you can,” he tell us. “knowing the settings of your camera make a difference.”
“I mainly use my faithful Nikon F2 and my Lomo LC-A+ but basically any camera with this function is fine. I have to admit, it is one of the first things I'm looking for when I want to buy a new camera. I wish I could double expose my pictures with my Rolleiflex ! If someone has a clue…”
Luckily most Lomography cameras (including the La Sardina and as David mentioned the Lomo LC-A+) have a built-in multiple exposure function, or in the case of the Diana F+ and Sprocket Rocket, simply allow the user to take as many exposures as they like before advancing the film. These easy to use features makes getting great results a whole lot easier.
David also emphasizes the importance of nailing the correct exposure. “Most of the time I underexpose the first layer [. . .] and play with natural backlight.” The reason we underexpose when making multiples is that we are repeatedly exposing the same frame to light, so we need to remember to compensate for that. The easiest way to do this is to set the ISO on your camera to a faster speed than the film you’re using. So if you have 100 speed film, set your ISO to 200.
Another tip David offers is to experiment in every way possible:
“You can also use things to partially cover your lens like the LomoSplitzer on L-CA+, but anything can work well, the black cap of your lens, even your hands ! It’s a great technique to experiment with symmetry and geometry. There are so many ways to play with the double exposure 'button'.
This willingness to embrace playfulness comes across in David’s photos, which are filled with a sense of humor as well as expertise. In the doubles below, which he has titled "clown" and "fishhead", it’s easy to tell how much fun David has in the process of his photography practice. These strange images inspire us to grab our cameras right away and try to replicate his weird and wonderful results.
“Personally, I do two types of double exposure:
1 - the one I use the most is taking a picture with a composition or a texture available around me, then I try to quickly add the second layer, it can be people, landscape or details. If I'm not on a photo walk, most of the time I forget what I shot previously and create a random double. It is a very playful method.
2 - My favorite method is shooting one roll with textures, then rewind the film and reshoot over the first layer. It requires to mark your film when you load it if you want your photos to match. Noting every picture in details on a notebook is better if you want to adjust composition with the second layers. If you know what you want in your photos, this method offer lots of options. It is like doing a swap film with yourself. When the camera allow it, you can also switch lenses!”
David also reminds us not to get discouraged when we inevitably fail to achieve our desired results. He tell us “Films are so unpredictable sometimes, the frustration and disappointment are as strong as happy surprises or perfect matches!”
Finally David tells us why he loves multiple exposures so much, and why he continues to return to this technique time and time again.
“The thrill of discovering the result, the challenge to produce something you imagine with a simple film camera, it makes you think and forces you to be creative. I like the idea to produce dreamy or surreal or modern creations without digital manipulations. Double exposure technique is a big part of my work. Portraits and landscapes are my favorite, Plants and flowers, textures, details are very inspiring. I frequently try to merge macro shots over wider shots. I’m always looking for the next one!