Monday, October 5, 2009

Double Exposure

Prior to 2007, I was shooting with film. One of the things I liked to do when shooting film was using a technique called "Double Exposure" or sometimes called multiple exposure.
Basically, this is when you expose the same frame of film more than once. To do this, you would set the camera up so that it does not advance the film after the first exposure. Most mid-level to advanced film SLR camera bodies had this function. Most were able to be set from about 2-9 exposures.

Mostly I liked to do this technique at night when shooting scenes with the moon.
If you ever tried shooting a scene at night with the moon, you will know that the moon blows out (over exposes) looking like a small white circle with no detail. Thats because the bright moon requires much shorter exposure time than would the rest of the scene you were shooting. If you were to expose for the moon, then you would have pretty much a dark and way too underexposed photo. Also, the moon would usually be very small as you are using a wider angle to capture the rest of the scene for the image.
Double exposing would allow me to get a larger moon that was properly exposed with some or all detail intact.

First, I would compose the scene in the viewfinder making sure the moon was not in the frame but leaving space in the composition to later expose the moon into. Exposing properly for this scene, I would focus and make the first exposure. Now, while the camera is standing by waiting for the next exposure I change lens to a longer focal length, zoom into the moon and place it in the frame where I left room for it in the previous shot. focus and expose. The moon records onto the film in the area I had left open for it, but the rest of the sky being dark records nothing over the previous scene. So, the result is a well focused and exposd moon in a well focused and exposed scene. Thats it. It does take a lot of tries and experimenting to achieve a good consistency with this technique but it is much fun a rewarding.

Sure, today I can just take another photo of the moon and then digitaly composite it into my photo later (which I have never done so far since shooting digitally) but it would just not be as exciting and does not give you the same sense of accomplishment as it did doing it with film.

So, here are a few examples of images I have shot using this technique.

moon over brooklyn rooftop
Moon over Brooklyn Rooftop

moon over marina ll
Moon over marina 2

moon over Marina l
Moon over marina 1

moon over Marine Parkway bridge
Moon over marine Parkway bridge

moon over steel
Moon over steel

moon over stone
Moon over stone, Brooklyn Bridge

moonlit stalks
Moonlit stalks

Moon over marsh
Moon over Marsh

and no one was there
And no one was there


From the O-Zone said...

You do beautiful work.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Gary: I just wrote a long comment that 'encountered an error in my request to publish'. Grrrrhhhh.

Perhaps I was too effusive and the universe was sparing me from humiliating myself in such a fashion. Ah, but who cares . . . when I encounter beauty and talent I cannot help but be effusive.

Fabulous shots. No wonder you take pride in them - especially since they are the result of know-how and work, not photoshop.

I especially like the first, the last, and the shot of the moon over the Brooklyn Bridge. The first has an eerie, ominous feeling for me. B.B. is sheer beauty. And the last is like a template for a story waiting to be told.

I bow to your talent.

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Wow these images are really incredible...

They remind me of the Monet painting of the rising sun over the water. (Sun, not moon, I know- but still equally as poetic).

DJ said...

Some of these are just yummy! Great work, Gary...

willow said...

Wow. These are fabulous moon shots. I really enjoyed reading about your double exposure technique. That marsh shot is my favorite!

Julie Magers Soulen said...

Thank you for sharing your double exposure technique with us. The results are stunning and all the more impressive that they were done with film. I would find it very difficult to pick a favorite! I love them all!

Gary Heller said...

Thanks O-Zone

Bonnie, I hate when that happens and sorry it happened to you. What I usually do now if I write a long response is to right click and copy it so that I can just paste it agin to a text box in that event.
LOl, the universe will not spare you ;)
Thanks for the time to comment and the good words

DC, I appreciate the comment and glad you see the poetic aspect of this shot

DJ, thanks for commenting

Willow, thanks. That was a somewhat memorable experience getting that scene. . .

Julie, always happy that you stop by and leave me your thoughts.

Victoria Bennett Beyer said...

Thanks for sharing your got some wonderful results with this method. I think the one with the Brooklyn Bridge is my fav.

Pretty Things said...

The photos are all breathtaking, but the top one is my absolute favorite!

joanne May said...

Hi Gary,
Fantastic photos. I just love your dramatic images. The moon over the Brooklyn Bridge is incredible. It looks very futuristic and has a very metallic effect.
Thank you for your visit. I know what you mean about your cat being like your son. They are amazing creatures.
We can't imagine not having Zigsa in our lives.
Best wishes.Jo.

drollgirl said...

beautiful shots -- the moon just looks so large and surreal in each and every picture. very strange. very good!

Gary Heller said...

Victoria, no secret really. I wish I could call the technique all my own! :) It is actually the one thing that i miss most about shooting with film, and it sometimes has me thinking about doing it again once in a while. But then i think about scanning and the other work involved and then I reconsider. . .lol

Pretty Things, thanks for the comments. I really have a big spot in my heart for that Brooklyn rooftop image. glad you like it as well.

Joanne May, thanks for your time. Just a few years ago, I would not have ever imagined I would have 1 cat, let alone three now with one being so dear to me he is like a son!! Funny how fate takes it course and things happen. If I had some more space, there would certainly be some dogs in the mix and some more cats i think too. Your blog is wonderful and I'll be back soon.

Drollgirl, I'm glad you think these are strange in a good way. "pleasantly strange" is what I strive for. . .;)
Thanks for your time amongst your multitude of fans!

Hilary said...

Wow.. these are just beautiful. I admit to quickly scrolling down the post first thing, and thinking "How?" I'm glad you explained it. I'm just really disappointed that it can't be attained digitally as well. They're wonderful images. Thank you so much for stopping by my blog today. I can see I'm going to learn a lot by hanging out here. :)

Gary Heller said...

Hilary, thank you for stopping by and leaving your thoughts.
I have heard that there are or is a digital SLR that can record multiple images on a single "frame" although I'm not sure how that would work. It may need to store the exposures in a buffer and combine them at the final stage. . .or , of course we can create a composite later on in post processing. Nothing wrong with that.
I just found it fun to do with film some years back. . .

Anonymous said...


You have made the moon appear to be a giant ballroom ball hung in the sky. Just gorgeous.

I loved the Moon over the marsh and the refection you caught in the water, and the Moon over the Brooklyn Bridge! Loved the lines you closed with.

Thank you so much for the kind comments at my blog!


Anonymous said...

Oh, I also loved the first shot!

Gary Heller said...

Merdith (The things we carried)thanks for the time to drop by.
love your description of a "ballroom ball" referring to the moon

Sheila said...

I'm so impressed with your style of teaching. I'm going to show this to my son who is a wanna be photog. thanks Gary!

Gary Heller said...

Sheila, your son already has a big headstart by having you in his life. Being around my mom while she painted when I was younger really opened up my eyes and mind to things like balance and composition and most of all, the magic of creativity.
A great book to get him is the National Geographic Photography field guide. That was a huge help to me when i started out learning about the camera and all its functions.
Then, a book on digital editing will be very useful too.

DoanLegacy said...

Fantastic photos! The reflections, the lighting, and the colors are just incredible! Beautiful work..

Daryl said...

Nice to meet such a talented photographer .. over from Hilary's Post of the Week to say hi!

ds said...

Oh, my....these are wonderful (and I am so glad you explained how you achieved your effects, because I haven't a clue). I am here thanks to Hilary's POTW, but I will be back. Thank you for this, and for the comment you left on my blog.

TSannie said...

Wow! Your photography is incredible! I've forever given up taking photos of the moon. I never can capture with a camera what my eye sees.
Over from Hillary - this is a much deserved post of the week entry.

Anonymous said...

POTW! Of course! :) Not surprised one little bit to see this post there. I expect you will be there often!

Thumbelina said...

Oh my goodness! you underestimate your talent. That is beautiful. Fantastic work. I cannot choose a favourite as they are all fabulous.

Over by way of Hilary's blog - congratulations on POTW mention and so very worth it imho.

Cheffie-Mom said...

WOW!! WOW!! These are beautiful photos!! Congrats on the Post of the Week Award from Hilary!!

Brian Miller said...

wow. you do amazing things with a camera. those pictures were wonderful. thanks for talking us through it as well. congrats on the well deserved POTW.

ellen abbott said...

All the superlatives have been used already. Moonlit stalks and Moon over Marsh are lovely.

Country Girl said...

I bow to your talent, sir. Came here via a post done by Hilary at Smitten Image today. She linked to this post of yours.