In the film days, a multiple exposure was created by neglecting to advance the film between successive exposures. Years ago, many of them were created by accident. However, the advent of auto-advancing film cameras reduced accidental multiple exposures dramatically, though most higher-end film SLRs still allowed for multiple exposures to be recorded on the same piece of film (when desired).
Fast forward to today and several of Canon’s higher-level DSLRs feature the ability to record multiple exposures in-camera. Those bodies are:
- EOS 1D X Mark II
- EOS 1D X
- EOS 5D Mark IV
- EOS 5Ds / 5Ds R
- EOS 5D Mark III
- EOS 6D
- EOS 7D Mark II
- EOS 80D
- EOS 70D
While most of the DSLRs above can be set to record the final multiple exposure image and the images used to create the final exposure, the EOS 70D, 80D and 6D only allow for saving the finished image (not the component images). This feature limitation can be important. More on that later.
Why target wedding clients?
With the prevalence of economically-priced DSLRs, ample online education and the fact that weddings are a fairly consistent market opportunity, wedding photography is a crowded market these days. Your competency, personal style and unique creativity can help set you apart from the pack. And that’s where multiple exposures come into play.
When it comes to wedding pictures, many shots are not just common, but expected:
- Bride and groom getting ready
- The wedding dress/shoes
- Ring and bouquet macros
- Wedding parties (groomsmen/bridesmaids)
- Bride walking down the aisle
- The kiss
- Bride and groom together
- Family group pictures
- First dance
- Cake cutting
- Bouquet toss
- etc, etc, etc…
The list above just barely scratches the surface, but the prevalence of what’s expected (and the fulfillment of those expectations) can lead to a lot of wedding pictures looking similar. And while any photographer can certainly differentiate his or her work based on those shots listed, adding something like a multiple exposure (which may likely be a combination of any of the two images above) can easily gain recognition for one’s photography services and increase client satisfaction. Considering the small amount of time it takes to create a multiple exposure image, it’s definitely worth the effort.
And the good news is that you don’t actually need a camera with the multiple exposure feature to create an exposure blended image; you can do it in Photoshop. However, having the feature in-camera can allow you to determine just how good your images will look when combined into a single image. And with the Live View preview option, proper framing of the two images is significantly easier.
Case in point – I shot a wedding in July and intended to capture an in-camera multiple exposure the day of the wedding. However, as the day dragged on I completely forgot about capturing the multiple exposure. I didn’t realize the omission until the clients had already received their wedding images.
With the RAW images still on hand, I tried to see if I could find two images that might blend together well. It took me about 5 minutes of searching, but I settled on two images – one of the bride’s dress and another of the couple’s first dance. To be perfectly frank, neither image on its own would be considered exceptional. In fact, the wedding dress shot was a throwaway as I had much better shots of it against a dark curtain (I removed the image from the Lightroom catalogue before batch processing/converting the wedding images but never deleted it).
In Photoshop, I used the dress picture as the base layer and placed the first dance picture above it set to a “Lighten” blending mode. I also used Brightness/Contrast clipping masks on both layers to adjust how the images blended together. The final result is shown above.
Am I completely happy with the image? Not really. I think I could have done better if I had purposefully attempted the multiple exposure the day of the wedding. However, my satisfaction with the final image is rather irrelevant from a client satisfaction perspective. When I showed the new bride the multiple exposure image, she seemed extremely happy with it. She later posted the picture on Facebook with a glowing review of my wedding photography services.
If considering adding multiple exposures to your wedding services, here are a few tips:
Set the camera as follows:
|Multi expose ctrl||Additive|
|No. of exposures||2|
|Save source imgs||All images|
|Continue Mult-exp||1-shot only|
* The option to save source images may not be available on some cameras.
- Create a silhouette image to use as the base layer. Note that the brighter areas of the each image will be what comes through prominently in the final image. An underexposed profile/silhouette set against a bright sky tends to work well for a base layer.
- Turn on Live View. Use the LCD’s preview to help you align the next shot. Note that you may need to use negative exposure compensation (for both the base and second image) to keep from overexposing the final image.
- Preview your results. If you don’t like the final image, simply go back into the Multiple Exposure options and designate your original base image to be used for your next attempt.
The best way to become proficient at creating multiple exposures is to practice. Last week I was practicing some multiple exposures and created the following self-portrait.
Here’s where saving the source images can be really beneficial even when creating an in-camera multiple exposure. Try as I might, I couldn’t get the right framing and depth of field that I wanted in-camera. However, I was able to pick out two of my attempts (one base image and one Spanish moss image) and craft the final multiple exposure in Photoshop. The second layer required enlarging (in relation to the base image) to achieve the look I was going for.
So the next time you’re about to shoot a wedding, try a multiple exposure. Your clients will likely enjoy your unique style in capturing their wedding.