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What is double exposure?

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The double exposure editing technique can take your photography and film to the next level. A fascinating technique, double exposure lets you merge multiple images to allow even more creativity in your artistic photography or videography work.

Read on to learn what is double exposure.

What is double exposure? 

Double exposure also known as multiple exposure is a technique that puts two different photographs on top of one another to make a single image. It's often used in more surrealistic photography to indicate a deeper meaning to an image. Double exposure is meant to create a sense of fantasy or hint at deeper meanings to keep viewers interested. 

If you are working with film and photography and want to maximize your results, double exposure can help. Rather than trying to design your set or scene with props or special effects, double exposure can be a faster, easier, more effective and less expensive technique to use.

African woman with night sky overlaid in a double exposure photograph

When to apply double exposure in photos and film

Double exposure pictures are different...they aren't supposed to look natural! Remember that if you want something to appear true to life or realistic, double exposure is the exact opposite.

It's a good idea to have a good understanding of ambient light for such photography as well as that also adds some mysticism.

You're probably keen to understand how to create double exposure.

How does double exposure work? 

While not the easiest technique for a beginner, double exposure can be simple to achieve. Some digital cameras such as Canon and Nikon provide built-in double exposure settings.

By simply selecting your pre-shot base image, the system allows you to take a second exposure over top of it. Essentially, these cameras do all the work for you.

With actual film, a little more work is involved. You need to rewind your film over to the pre-shot image. Then you need to take your second photograph or "exposure" over this. The finished piece will reveal both images on top of each other. 

Double exposure examples that will inspire you

There are so many ways to use double exposure. It's versatile and can be used to achieve your vision. Let's explore three ways of how you can use double exposure in your creative work. 

Idea1: Portrait photography

See how the artist blends the background and a few human subjects here.

Double exposure portrait of two beautiful fashion girls

Idea 2: Street photography 

Check out how everyday scenes can have an added element of wonder by using double exposure. 

Idea 3: Wedding photography

Here you can see almost a combination of the last two techniques. By using the wild scenery to great effect, the artist gets an incredible photo without the need for manipulation. 

Now you know what double exposure is. What next? 

Want to learn more about photography, video production or video editing? Learn about aperture, focal length, establishing shots, J-cuts, making a time lapse video and more in Clipchamp's Video Glossary. When you're ready to edit, just drag, drop and edit your video for free. Just sign up to Clipchamp.

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