For as long as photography has been a popular pastime, the art of creating double exposures for a unique effect has been around. By creating a double exposure, you can make one picture that has two photos captured in the same frame. This creates a uniquely interesting, dream-like effect. In double exposed photos, the second photo taken appears to be on top of the first.
Creating double exposures is a simple task using almost any manual single-lens reflex (SLR) film camera. Normally after you take a photograph, you would advance the film using the film advance lever. Doing this also cocks the shutter, getting it ready for the next shot. When you are trying to achieve a double exposure, you still need to cock the shutter, but you do not want to advance the film. To do this, locate the film rewind button typically located on the bottom of the camera. After you take the first photo, hold the film rewind button in while you advance the lever. This will cock the shutter readying it for the next photo, but it disengages the sprockets that work to advance your film to the next photo. Now you are ready to take the second photo. After taking the second picture, simply advance the film as usual.
Some manual SLR film cameras have a different set up and do not need to have the shutter cocked between shots. In these cameras, you will only need to take the second photo immediately after taking the first photo without advancing the film. The exact set up will vary from camera to camera. If you have doubts regarding exactly how your camera works, reading the owners manual should provide you with the answers you need.
Perfecting the art of creating double exposures takes a great deal of practice and experimentation. You have to be very careful to ensure that your photo does not end up being overexposed. If this happens, you will lose the details in your photograph. To avoid this, each exposure should be slightly underexposed.
Creating true double exposures is not possible in digital cameras because there is no film to advance. However, you can easily create a double exposed effect in digital photographs using digital image manipulation software. You can layer various images together and alter the opacity so that multiple photos can be seen in the same frame. When digitally creating double exposures, you also have more freedom to experiment to achieve the result you are looking for without the need to take multiple photos.