Double the Fun: Double Exposure Tips for Mobile

words + photos
| Sachin Chengara
December 05, 2016
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Double exposures have been around since the early ages of film. Originally, double exposures were a happy accident that would occur when film wasn’t wound completely to the next frame. Exposing another image on top of the last would thus merge the two images. In the later years of film, sometime between the 70s and 80s, camera companies took note of the style’s popularity and began incorporating it as a camera setting. Today, with endless technological options, you can create your own double exposures without ever picking up a film camera.

Sachin has used this advancement in mobile photography to capture stunning images and create double exposures right on his phone. Sachin downloaded Instagram more than three years ago, and though he never labeled himself a portrait photographer, he loved the concept of incorporating landscape and portraiture into one piece.

Here are some of his tips for creating awesome mobile double exposures:

#1 – Keep a backlog of interesting photos

If you are planning to shoot a double exposure, try having a dedicated folder in your phone of photos you can pull for background or foreground images. They can be landscapes, images with interesting light, architecture, or anything else you find compelling.

#2 – Shoot your portraits on a plain background

Portraits have to be very high in contrast and preferably on plain background, otherwise the double exposure won’t look right when you merge the images. You’ll have a very tough time editing the errors. Try capturing an image without any other elements except the photo subject. You can use a white wall, frame the subject in the sky, or create a high-contrast silhouette.

#3 – Try to stick to one app for editing

Using a multitude of apps that allow for double exposures or masking can deteriorate the quality of the image. I like to personally use Union and Pixelmator. They allow me to fine tune all the details in my photos.

#4 – Post-process after overlaying your images

First, I merge the landscape and the portrait together. Then, I save the image and upload it into a post-processing app like VSCO or Mextures to edit the tones. If you try editing tones before merging, you might have an inconsistency in coloring between the portrait and landscape.

#5 – Incorporate your own style

Figure out what looks good to you or what theme you want to go with. Maybe your style is outdoor scenery or cityscape. Add elements that excite you — specific shapes, textures (like stones), objects (maybe birds?), or lens flares — to give your double exposure a unique and interesting appeal.