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Multiple Exposure Photography Tutorial

If the above video is not displaying properly, you can watch the YouTube video tutorial here.

A multiple exposure is where you take two images on top of one another. This used to be achieved in the days of film, where you would take one picture and then instead of advancing the film strip to the next frame to take the next picture, you would simply leave the film in the same place and take another picture right on top of it. Taking or editing the shots in Black-and-White usually produces the best results because you don't have to worry about color theory or anything like that - black and white just works.
Human Nature (Double Exposure)

Here are the steps to take high-key double exposures just like the one above. You can skip steps 3-6 if you are taking regular, non-high-key double exposures:

  1. Turn on the Multiple Exposure feature on your camera.
    The Multiple Exposure feature is located in different areas of the menu system for every camera - use your intuition, check your camera's instruction manual, or Google search to find where it is located.
    Here is a list of cameras that a have Multiple Exposure feature

    You can scroll horizontally on that page to see all of them. Most higher end Nikon DSLRs (D300s and D800 for example) have the multiple exposure feature in the camera's menu system.
  2. Turn Auto-Gain OFF, if possible. Auto-Gain automatically attempts to neutralize the EV, which isn't useful for the high-key nature portraits.
  3. Put your camera in Aperture Priority Mode and then select your F Number (I used ~f/4).
  4. Put your camera in Spot Metering Mode.
  5. For the first shot, center the Auto-Focus Point and take a picture of yourself. The background should be as close to 100% white as reasonably possible. You can achieve a white background by having the sky fill up the background behind your head (having the sun directly behind your head and lined up with the lens will produce the best result. Light overcast days are theoretically ideal, but not necessary.) Using flashes against a white wall to create a silhouette also works.
  6. For the second shot, bump up the Exposure Compensation to around +2 EV and take a picture of whatever you want (I like trees with leafs on them) and make sure the background is 100% white for this image as well. I would recommend experimenting and taking each shot by themselves to see which settings you need to use in order to get the background to be 100% white for each individual shot, +2EV is only an estimate and is only what I was using on that particular day, all situations are different.The key is to just get the background to be white and not gray - use whatever settings necessary.
  7. After you have taken two shots, they will automatically stack and should show up in your LCD screen (you can't retrieve the original individual images if using a Nikon DSLR). You can then continue to take more and more double exposures until you get a really good one - I took dozens if not ~100. Some cameras automatically turn off the multiple exposure feature after you have taken one multiple exposure - if you find that this is the case for your camera, simply turn the multiple exposure feature back on before you take your next set. The Nikon D800 has an option to leave the multiple exposure function on all the time, making things a little faster. The D300s does not.


Droid City (Multiple Exposure)

If you want to use previously taken shots, or don't have a multiple exposure feature on your camera, you can do this in Adobe Photoshop (The image above was done in PS). Here are the steps:

  1. Create a new Photoshop document and drag and drop 2 images into the Photoshop document so the two images show up in the bottom right in the Layers Palette as 2 layers.
  2. Select the top layer, and then select "Screen" for its blending mode. You also can try experimenting with "Multiply" (The Multiply blending mode will darken instead of lighten).
  3. (Optional) You can Dodge Highlights by using the Dodge tool to whiten up anything that didn't turn out to be 100% white.
  4. (Optional) You can adjust the Curves of the image by raising the left-most lower point upwards vertically a little bit, and/or the right-most upper point down vertically a little bit; You can apply the same adjustments to individual color channels in the same Curves adjustment window as well (Red, Blue, Green).
  5. File > Save As 8-Bit JPEG.

After you have created your images, post them in the PhotoExtremist Flickr Group or the PhotoExtremist Facebook Page! Be sure to tag them with "multiple exposure" and/or "double exposure" so we know what we are looking at and can search for them in the future!


"Trick Photography and Special Effects" by Evan SharboneauIf you enjoyed this video and article on multiple exposures, I highly recommend my e-book and video series Trick Photography and Special Effects which has over 300 e-book pages and 9 hours of instructional video content focusing solely on universal creative photography and Photoshop techniques just like this one.


Photographic Special Effects with Christmas Lights

This video shows you how to take psychedelic abstract long exposure photographs of Christmas lights. You'll want to set your camera's shutter speed to to BULB mode and use your camera's pop-up flash (or external flash), then spin yourself around in front of your Christmas tree. It helps if all the lights are turned off in the room except for the Christmas tree lights.

Here are the six different tricks. There will be an image on top, and an description underneath each image.

long exposure spinning in a chair next to christmas tree lights

Spin either in a chair or while standing up. Try not to move your arm, hand, or head while doing this, because it will cause unwanted camera-shake. You can experiment moving your arm up and down or something if you want to, it just will give you a different effect.

psychedelic alien long exposure slow flash sync

Hold your camera by the lens out in front of your with your right hand, twist just like you did in the first trick, only this time take your left hand and move your camera so it zooms in and rotates at the same time. If you do this several times, you should eventually get a result where the lines will twirl around you, like you are in some type of TRON video game or something. And hey, Photoshopping your face using the Liquify tool to make you look like an alien never hurts.

Christmas Tree Lights with 6X Cross Filter

Use a star filter screwed on the front of your camera lens. This will slice and the light into thin lines. This looks cool when you twirl the filter around your lens as well because the stars will appear to be "twinkling".

Abstract Golden Long Exposure of Christmas Lights

Use manual focus, still in bulb mode, and simply move your camera around your Christmas tree while the exposure is taking place. You will end up with really techy-yet-beautiful abstract photographs that you can use in backgrounds for Photoshop projects or the like.

Zoom long exposure abstract
Put your camera on a tripod and zoom in while the exposure is taking place.
Multiple Exposure of Abstract Christmas Tree Lights long exposure

If you have a higher end DSLR (I'm using a Nikon D300s) there may be a Multiple Exposure function somewhere in the camera's menu. I like to set it to ten and then take several exposures, each shot at a different focal length.


42 Reasons Why Nikon (and Canon) Suck

Warning: If you don't have a sense of humor or an open mind, then I would suggest not reading this post and leaving.

Hey! I recently purchased a new Nikon D300s, and I am not satisfied with it. In fact, I'm absolutely disgusted with it! I paid $1800 for this camera, and it can't do any of these basic functions, most of which are just software/firmware things that could be added without any hardware tweaking. Although this list specifically applies to the D300s (because I own it and know what it can/cannot do), a lot of the things apply to almost any digital SLR camera that are produced by Canon, Sony, Fuji.... whatever.

*UPDATE 1/31/2016*: Things I really want are in bold. Things I noticed have been fixed in 2016 using my current camera (D810) are in green. Anything else isn't extremely important to me personally, but I wouldn't be complaining if they added them while still maintaining their simplistic and easy to use interface, in fact I would think they would be there by now but they are not.

  1. There is no sound detection shutter triggering.
  2. There is no motion detection shutter triggering.
  3. There is no headphone output.
  4. There is no sound metering/VU/Volume/Peak meter in camera.
  5. You can't record audio files (I think this feature is on the D3/D4/D5, however).
  6. The only image recording options available are JPG, TIFF, or NEF. The only video formats available are .AVI.
  7. Nikon has limited the frames per second. The camera is capable taking 8fps without an external battery pack, but in order to enable 8fps properly, the camera has to detect that there is a battery grip attached.
  8. You can't write your own programs for the camera because the firmware is not open source. The majority of these problems (almost all of them) would be solvable if it was!
  9. You cannot view non-Nikon content in camera on the LCD screen. All images and videos must be taken by a Nikon camera in order to be played back in camera.
  10. It can't meter beyond 30 seconds.
  11. It can't blend multiple exposures in certain, useful ways.
  12. It only can do whole number fps integers (4fps, 5fps, etc) and is unable to use more flexible values, such as 4.2 fps or 4.3fps, for example.
  13. It can't do 2 fps and then 3 fps, and then loop that pattern.
  14. You cannot bracket images with user customized integers/values.
  15. The exposure bracketing only allows up to a maximum of 9 stops.
  16. The self-timer only has 2, 5, 10, or 20 seconds available for customization. What if I wanted 8.5 seconds? What if I wanted 40 seconds, or 8.2 hours?
  17. The exposure delay mode can only be set to 1 second. What if I wanted it longer?
  18. You cannot properly set the white balance in camera for infrared photography or ultraviolet photography. This feature was available in some very old models like the Nikon D50, especially with JPEGs. Why is it gone? The WB is stuck at 1,000-10,000k. Adobe should expand their white balance values in their software as well, then we wouldn't have to go out of our way to make custom DNG profiles every time we take an IR image using a new camera.
  19. The file naming system is limited. It allows only three characters, an underscore, and then the numbers 0001-9999. What if I wanted the file name to have an unlimited amount of characters at the beginning (or end), and then the file number (for example 00005356342 (as you can see, it can go past 9999 without being reset to 0001 for no reason)) and then another set of characters, and then a custom variable or two, such as the date or camera serial/model number? Having such as system would mean every file would have a unique file name, so there would no duplicates at all in your entire library of 100,000+ images.
  20. The Active folder function (folder naming) is limited. Yet again, it only allows three numbers to be inserted into the folder name, and then a "D300S" is stuck at the end of the folder name. What if I wanted an unlimited amount of customizable numbers AND letters, AND the ability to insert metadata variables (time, date, location, serial no., camera model, iso number, etc)?
  21. There is no live histogram.
  22. The live horizon only meters the x axis, not the y axis.
  23. The BULB mode is limited. It lets the photographer take an exposure while their finger is pressed on the shutter, but if they wanted to push the shutter once to activate the exposure, and then once again to stop the exposure, they wouldn't be able to do that without buying a cable release or remote.
  24. EV, Exp, and ISO is adjustable only in 1/3 or 1/2 increments.
  25. Accurate exposure times are limited. For example, you cannot set it to 23 seconds. It's either 20 or 25.
  26. It only can write files to be in horizontal orientation. It can write in the EXIF data that it needs rotating, but if you wanted to write the actual file dimensions in vertical orientation, its is impossible.
  27. It's incapable of auto-focus bracketing.
  28. The AF Assist lamp doesn't always turn on when it's dark, and furthermore, there is no option to turn on the AF Assist lamp at your desire. It is a waste considering how bright and useful the lamp is. It would be convenient for the user to have the ability to assign a button that turns on the AF Lamp so you can see in the dark.
  29. The Interval Time Shooting mode is limited.
  30. There is no way to tell how large the file size is for any of the files on the card.
  31. There is no option to view the pictures in whatever orientation your camera is in. It's either "ROTATE TALL" or not.
  32. You cannot install different sized crystals inside of the camera body that are in front of the sensor to bend light in certain artistic ways (this one is more of a joke than not, although having the ability to easily swap the Internal Cut Filters would be awesome, and silly cameras like the Nikon D810A wouldn't need to exist)
  33. You cannot auto-focus the lens from Focus Point A to Focus Point B while it is taking an exposure.
  34. The exposure compensation only goes up or down to a maximum of five stops. What if you wanted to set it over 5? Why limit everything using arbitrary numbers? I like that it stops at 5, because if I want to quickly move it up or down as much as possible, I know that I can just keep rotating the dial until it stops at 5. There should be an option in the menu to change the maximum number, however.
  35. You cannot easily select groups of images to be deleted simultaneously.
  36. You cannot quickly create a playlist of certain images/videos you want to play while in sideshow mode.
  37. You cannot resize images to smaller sizes. This feature was available in older models.
  38. The repeating flash mode is limited to 1HZ to 50HZ. It's very possible to program the camera to be .5HZ.
  39. There is an option that allows you to trim movie clips from the beginning, and another option to trim movie clips from the end, however if you wanted to do both at the same time, there is no option available. You have to trim the beginning, which makes a new copy of the file, then trim the end of that copy, which makes another copy. In the end you have 3 copies.
  40. You cannot create a movie file of an exposure being recorded in real time.
  41. You cannot set the shutter speed to whatever you want when recording video.
    You cannot set the ISO number to whatever you want when recording video.
  42. You cannot set custom values for each flash burst in the Flash Burst mode.
  43. You can't watch videos in slideshow mode.
  44. The AGC (Audio Gain Control) is horrible. People have been complaining all over the internet about their frustration of it not being able to switch the AGC to manual.
  45. You can't take images in any size you want. Cameras offer Small, Medium, and Large image sizes for JPEG and sometimes with RAW. The image size should be able to be customized to any dimension you want, with any filetype, including RAW. With my 36 megapixel D810A DSLR, I want to have the ability to make the images Extra Small.
  46. Each pixel on the sensor cannot have its own dedicated ISO number. Depending on how advanced they made this feature, this could potentially completely revolutionize HDR photography. Mapping just a simple gradient down the sensor would be nice though.
  47. Built in GPS? Nope. I really am wanting this.
  48. Built in WiFi? Nope. I probably would never ever use this, but still.
  49. You can't link two or more DSLRs together for 3D capturing.
  50. The painted labels near the buttons do not glow in the dark.
  51. There is no RAW for video.
  52. You cannot create animated GIFs.

A lot of the things listed above are already capable of being enabled in the camera, however Nikon decided to just disable them for the hell of it. This leaves all the photographers who want more control over there camera in the dark, with no other option but to suffer.

There is only one solution at this point, and that is  The Frankencamera.  The Frankencamera will allow users to write their own programs for the camera and use it as they please, however it is currently difficult to get one of these, because it is still in development and being prepared for public use... Plus it is extremely bulky.

The Nikon D300s' competitor, the Canon 7D, fixes some of the problems... but I don't own one so I can't tell you which problems it fixes and which ones it doesn't. I'm assuming that it only can fix a few. Based on a video review I saw of it, the only things better than the Nikon is that it can take longer video footage, it's 18 megapixels compared to 12, and it can meter the y axis horizon (ohhhh. big deal)

People seem to make jokes about this post and say things like "well this camera can't make me toast in the morning, so therefore it is useless!".  That is because the camera wasn't designed to make toast and it would need new hardware in order to do that and would be ridiculous to begin with. Most of the items that I have listed above do not require any new hardware to be installed into the camera. I am simply trying to point out the un-met potential DSLR cameras have.

There are so many creative (and very practical/useful ) features that could be implemented into cameras that are not being taken advantage of.   Take a look at this theoretical open source DSLR that implements some of the features listed above, and hopefully you will come to some conclusion on why I hate camera companies for not progressing their technology beyond the point of just adding more megapixels and a faster frame-rate each year to their cameras. If they would just make the camera open source, the technology could progress so much faster. They are ruining it for everyone.

Is there anything you think should be added to the list?

11/16/2010 UPDATE: Yes, I researched the camera before buying it, and believe it or not, I felt that it was the best one on the market for me. However, that does not mean that I like it or am even the happy with it. At most, I am truly disappointed with the camera's available on the market today. If you gave me the most high-end, top-notch flagship camera from Nikon or Canon, I still would not be impressed because of how impractical it is. If the firmware was open source, however.... then that would be completely different story, and paying 3+ grand for a camera WOULD be worth it. I'm surprised Nikon and Canon even give us the option to change the  shutter speed and ISO, considering all the other hundreds of other features they are holding back.

Please write a comment below and tell me what you think.

Multiplicity + Stereographic 360X180 Panorama

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