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Multiple Exposures in Camera – April 2015 – By Maryna Cotton

“Double and multiple exposures allow you to indulge in fantasy, but one of their strongest uses is the intensification of reality” – Freeman Patterson – Photography for the joy of it.

The drive through the Eastern Freestate this past week-end has left me with memories that are distinctly pink and white in colour. For most of my life I have waited for the happy Cosmos to bloom every year– their appearance signifying the end of summer and the happy occurrence of the Easter holidays. Over the years I have photographed the little flowers from every angle and this year the challenge was to come up with something new, with the added challenge to tell the story of these pretty little weeds authentically.

On contemplating exactly what that story was, I was again struck by a few truths. Cosmos are pretty and simple in their design, but rather disorganized in their scattered groups. They grow very tall on rather thin stems, resulting in the tendency to dance in the slightest of breezes. The combination of pink and white is perfectly set off and intensified against the blue skies and as if this is not intense enough the collective of the vast numbers scattered over the country side is breath taking.  If I could be allowed the cliché of humanizing them, I would say they are humble and despite the fact that they are mere weeds growing in the most inhabitable soil, they always appear happy.

The challenge of telling the story of happy abundance, simplicity, intense colour and organized chaos made Multiple Exposures the obvious choice.

Multiple Exposures are images where two or more exposures (images) are superimposed in a single frame (image). Granted in the old days of film these were more complicated to make or at least we had to think harder, unlike the “shoot and see what you get”  of  the digital era. One had to have an understanding of negative and positive values, where black in an image represented no exposure at all and this created the perfect conditions for overlaying a second exposure.  Also one had to consider the actual exposures, as the combined exposures could result in the over-exposure of highlights in the final image. This resulted in the need to under-expose each exposure in order to end up with correct exposure for the final image.

Most of the modern digital cameras can do Multiples exposures in camera – ranging from 2-9 exposures overlaid. The good news is that the compensation for the exposures is done automatically. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 1D X, and 70D; most Nikon DSLRs; Fujifilm’s X-Pro1 and X100s; and the Olympus OM-D E-M5, among others can do in-camera Multiple Exposures. In the event of your camera not able to do Multiple Exposures all is not lost. Multiple images can also be overlaid in Photoshop. The motivation for including Multiple exposures in-camera was actually for a whole different reason that the creative expression I intended. It is used widely for White Balance tweaks in Commercial Architectural Photography, or to create the effect of long-exposures despite bright light conditions.

I set my Nikon DSLR to 9 shots and started playing.

02 - Multiple Exposures in Camera April 2015 IMAGE1

Moving the camera between exposures creates dynamic images and each one is unique. Do not to get caught up with the technical aspect of Multiple Exposures, experiment and gain understanding from experience and trial and error.

Very little editing is needed  – I usually only make level adjustments.

02 - Multiple Exposures in Camera April 2015 IMAGE2


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Comments (1)

  • Lezzet


    You have given me renewed excitement on a very dull creative lull I have been experiencing so I came here for some inspiration. Vloeking lekker because I’m trying to figure multiple exposures out with my manual in the one hand but boy when I figure it out I’m going to be having so much fun! Thank you Maryna and Tania xxx


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