How To

Double Take


I love the satisfaction that I get when I create something genuinely strange with my camera, without the use of photoshop. This is one of my main reasons for still shooting film most of the time over digital. With digital, I would have to "cheat" with photoshop post-production work, where as with film, I can take multiple exposures on the same frame.

First things first, you must be sure that your camera can facilitate multiple exposures, most can with some fiddling. The easiest type of camera to use is one with an uncoupled film advance and shutter ****, (such as the Holga) or one with a special "multi-exposure" switch which re-cocks the shutter without advancing the film (such as the Lomo L-CA+). If you camera doesn't have either of these features you may still be able to get multi-exposures with the following technique: shoot your first shot, then, using the film rewind crank, make sure the film still in the can is tight and hold it there. Continue to hold the crank while you press and hold the film rewind button and advance the film, the shutter should ****, but the small sprocket which advances the film should be loose, causing the film to stay still. Another thing to consider if you camera has automatic exposure, is that the film speed is set to double the normal value to obtain the correct exposure, if the camera is manual, you should underexpose each image by one stop.

The first technique I will cover is overlapping two images on the same frame. I normally opt for a fairly plain background texture for my first exposure and an interesting subject for the second. I quite often use a flash on the second exposure (often my coloursplash) to help bring out the subject.

Another cool effect is the mirror effect. Firstly take a shot of a nice, tall subject (buildings work the best in my opinion), then flip the camera over, lining up the subject in the same place in the finder and take another exposure. The two exposures should blend into each other making a strange mirrored effect. Please note, this works best with cameras which have either a centrally placed viewfinder or that are SLRs as the image will be better aligned, but interesting effects can be obtained with any camera.

Interesting effects can also be achieved with creative masking. This is done by masking parts of the film plane of the camera so that only parts of the frame are exposed. For example, you could mask half of the frame, then the other half after reloading the film to obtain a half-frame effect (Tip, make the edges of the mask rough for added character), or you could shape the mask, giving strange, abstract effects.

Another very strange and unpredictable effect can be had when the film is unloaded after shooting and reloaded into another camera. I choose to expose the film in ether my Zenit 11 SLR or L-CA+ followed by my supersampler multi-lens. This creates some very odd effects.

For the last two techniques, it is required that you unload the film with some of its header still sticking out of the film canister. This is achieved by re-winding the film very slowly. When the film is felt to slacken off, it has become disconnected from the take-up spool. Open the back and take out the film. It is now ready to be loaded into a different camera, be it yours or a friends.

These techniques have provided me with a lot of fun and also some very interesting images, I hope that they will do the same for you too.

1 response

  • Jedediah Hohf

    Jedediah Hohf said (21 Dec 2008):

    Very nice, although now, digital cameras have the multiple exposure feature. With my pentax k10d i can take up to 9 exposures. I've played around with it a bit and like the fact that I did it without photoshop. Thanks for the tips!!

Want to leave a comment? Log in or sign up!