on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Multiple Exposure Photography

Creativity In Camera

Doug Chinnery

I am an artist working with images full of colour and movement in an attempt to express what I see around me. Inspired by artists, in particular the impressionists and abstract impressionists as well as Chris Friel and Valda Bailey, I work in abstraction trying to capture mood and emotion. I live in obscurity with my wife, Beth, and my buddy, Eddie.


Multiple exposure photography is nothing new. Examples can be traced back to the very beginnings of photography, where a light sensitive material has been exposed twice, overlaying one image on top of another. It seems likely that this ability to create layered exposures was discovered by chance, as the result of a mistake, forgetting a slide had already been exposed.


Soon photographers were playing with the effect, often to create hoax images, by making an individual appear twice in the same frame, for example. Early film cameras had no locking mechanism to prevent accidental exposure of a frame twice due to forgetting to wind the film on after exposing a frame. The resultant images were usually awful mishmashes, often over exposed, but just occasionally a coming together of the subjects in both frames and a balance of the exposures led to a really pleasing creative photograph. It was this that creative image makers strove for, burning through lots of film in the pursuit of a great image.

In recent years, the resurgent interest in ‘Lomography’, especially amongst young photographers drawn to the retro nature of shooting on film using low quality cameras, often from Eastern Europe and toy cameras, has seen multiple exposure images appearing again on photo sharing sites as they experiment with the effects that can be achieved.

For those who love just pure, classic photography, you may be thinking multiple exposures are probably not for you. However, you may find some of the features, especially in the new top end Canon DSLR’s with their blending modes allow you to achieve things in camera which you were having to toil away at in Photoshop. The feature is not just for quirky or artistic and creative photography by any means.

© Edward Steichen - New York, 1933

© Edward Steichen - New York, 1933

Multiple Exposure Photography with Digital Cameras

Many modern digital cameras now have the facility to shoot multiple exposures. To find if your camera has the function just check the manual or Google it. In most cases, the ability of the camera is limited to overlaying one image on top of another, much like the look achieved in exposing a frame of film multiple times. Many will allow just one mage to be overlaid on top of another while some will allow more than two frames to be overlaid. You will also find that some of the more advanced cameras will provide some assistance in helping you to underexpose each frame to help avoid over exposure.

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