Ghostly Halloween - Multiple Exposure Photography
Hopefully, by the end of this blog post, you will be ready to create some hauntingly mysterious images, all ready for this weekends Halloween challenge.
Please Note: You’ll hear both double, and multiple exposure talked about; as long as it’s more than one image exposed on to the same frame, then you’re still working and thinking along the right lines.
So much so, that camera manufacturers like Canon, Nikon, Sony and Fuji have built in creative functions to let you capture double/multiple exposures live in-camera; goes to show how much the urge for creativity affects the industry!
You will need access to post production software like Photoshop or GIMP – but don’t worry if you’re inexperienced with these software packages, as you don’t need an awful lot of technical knowledge to create these techniques.
First off, we need to start behind the camera and take a photograph of a person or objects silhouette. It’s up to you what subject matter you choose, but people are often nicer to work with – your end results tend to be more poignant and personal. However, you can start by practising with any object, as long as it has a nice sharp outline.
Create a Silhouette
To create a silhouette, position yourself so that the light source is behind the subject matter, and make sure your aperture is small, around F/11 – F/16 depending upon how bright the backlight is.
Ensure that when you look through the viewfinder your object only shows shape; we don’t want any details present at this stage.
Overexpose the Background
We know it may sound unusual, but next, we want you to overexpose the background. Simple, plain, clear white backgrounds work best for ME, so try to work from a low angle and use the sky as the background, especially if it’s an overcast day.
If your sky is perfectly blue, then don’t worry, we can always solve that in Photoshop!
When you’re happy with this first stage image, you’re ready to move on to step 2:
We believe the texture shot is actually the most important part of this process, so it’s worth spending a little time thinking about what you hope to achieve.
The reason the texture is so important is that it brings the ME to life – it gives your image a reason and background story, it also introduces the tone and atmosphere.
Think of this exercise like a book: If the silhouette you shot was the title of the book, then the texture shot would be the first chapter. It’s going to be what grips people, grabs their attention and helps them to make assumptions. Ultimately, it will lead to their decision of whether they like the image or not.
Texture – Create Individuality
If your silhouette shot was of a person, you would need to choose a texture that is relative and reflective of that particular individual. Although your subject is pretty much hidden with disguised features, you want to take this opportunity to introduce your artistic vision. Consider your silhouetted subjects personality, their character traits, their emotions or nuances… What relatable texture could you introduce to represent those things?
It’s crucial you select the right texture image for your subject, otherwise your message and story may get confused, misconstrued, or even be totally misunderstood.
Whatever texture you finally decide on, ensure you are capturing how that person is feeling at that exact moment in time.
Texture Exposure and Framing
When you go to take your texture shot, it’s important to remember that you keep your image well exposed, you don’t want your texture shot to be dark.
The way we blend the two images relies on the highlights and mid-tones of the texture, overlaying the shadow on the silhouette; if your texture image is dark, the resulting effect won’t be clear.
You want a nice tight crop, with no obstructing background details (like the flower head you can see here). If needs be, zoom in or use a macro function to assist you.
Obviously, you can use more than 1 texture shot if you like; you may decide you want to experiment further and build up your ME, but for this exercise, we are just going to use the 1 texture, as we don’t want to over complicate things for you.
As you can see from that video clip, if you have the right images and hold artistic vision, it really is a very straight forward and simple process.
Oh, by the way, we mentioned earlier…
if you have a perfectly blue sky and need to make it white for the ME, then just change it to black and white.
Use the Hue/Saturation tool, take the Saturation down to -100 and it’ll turn your sky grey/white! Ta da!
2) Copy and paste your texture shot over the silhouette, not the other way around! Make sure that your texture shot covers the silhouetted area completely, don’t leave any black on show.
3) Move to your layers panel (F7) and make sure you have 2 layers visible, one will be the silhouette, which may be called the ‘background’ and ‘layer 1’ will be your texture shot.
4) On the blending modes above, toggle down to the Screen blend mode and then… voila!
5) You’ll see that the texture has replaced the black of the silhouette and has now become part of the portrait, making it look as if it emits from inside the head of the subject.
6) Use the move tool in Photoshop to drag that texture layer around – experiment with this until you feel you have found the most effective and complimentary position.
7) Once you have that perfect position, save your image.
How easy was that?!
The Multiple Exposure technique is actually very straightforward – it’s having the artistic eye and vision to take the images and arrange them that makes each photographers’ work unique and special.
Here’s a few other examples of more images to hopefully help inspire you on your creative ‘multiple exposure’ journey.
Who will be brave enough to use the multiple exposure technique in our Halloween weekend challenge? Don’t forget… we’ll be watching! :-)
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