This is a photo of the amazing Rachael & Tom from their recent wedding. It’s a double exposure and the sort of creative shot that I would hope might earn a bit of wall space. They’re great fun to do and I’ll have a go at one now and again if I have time at a wedding. In fact to be honest, you don’t even need to do the whole thing on the wedding day. As long as you get a useable photo of your main subject, the second textural layer can be a photo taken at a later date! I do get asked by other photographers about double exposures from time to time so I thought I’d do a little blog post on how to get ‘the look’.
I’m not going to go into the technicalities of making an in camera double exposure on the Canon 5D MkIII as there’s no shortages of tutorials out there that explain how to do it. A couple of tips when you come to do it though… You’ll get better results if you put your couple / model against a clean background with good tonal separation i.e. make them dark and the background light. A silhouette type shot is ideal. And when you photograph the second frame for the flowers or whatever you choose to shoot, use live view and make sure you use a small enough aperture to keep plenty in focus for best results.
In terms of the edit, in Photoshop I’ve balanced two layers: one with the completed double exposure and another with the original frame of just the couple. This is about getting the balance between a solid block of flowers and keeping some detail in the bride’s face. I used levels layers to help achieve this and depending on what you’re working with, layer masks can be useful too. In this example I wanted to lose the background completely. You don’t *have* to do this by any means but I wanted to keep this shot nice and clean so it was a case of using the quick selection and refine edges tools to remove it. These days, Photoshop is so intelligent at doing stuff like this relatively quickly! I then added a white background and tweaked the output slider on the RGB channels to choose a background colour that balanced the colour palette of the image. After that I flattened the image and opened it up in Alien Skin Exposure 7 to edit it. In addition to a film like edit I also added a texture and a light leak for the final look.
So there you go – well done if you followed that and aren’t bored to tears! I find ASE an awesome tool to add a bit of creative juice to a photo like this to give a nice, ‘arty’ finish. Remember with double exposures, there’s no rules. I’ve explained what I’ve done on this photo but there’s so many ways to tackle them so remain open minded and get creative!