A quick search on Pinterest will illustrate the almost limitless possibilities of double exposure imagery. It enables an artist or photographer to capture poignant scenes within one image or add weight to the feeling they are trying to put across. Double exposure, whether used in photography or painting, adds a whole new creative dimension to the art of composition.
A composite of two or more images is blended together in a way that the creator believes will best represent the mood they want to put across. Often, photographers merge a background style image into a suitable silhouette.
As well as special apps such as Instant Blend which allow you to achieve the effect with ease on your iPhone, many digital SLR cameras (such as the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and most Nikon DSLRs) have in-camera capability to mix two images.
Artist Matt Wisniewski explains how he found the form:
‘I’ve enjoyed experimenting in Photoshop and looking at art on the web for quite a while. Over time, I played around a bit now and then with editing and combining some of the images I had collected. It eventually got some attention so I kept going.’
Visual artist Andreas Lie combines stock images to create evocative images inspired by his surroundings in Bergen, Norway. ‘I like how easy it is to give an image or an idea an extra dimension,’ Lie told The Studio,
‘If you have a good idea and use the right elements, chances are it will come out looking very good as well.’
His work often features a variety of animals with landscapes of rugged beauty inset in the silhouettes. Lie told of the process he uses to select the images for his atmospheric pieces:
‘First of all it has to fit with the theme you are trying to create. For example, at the moment I am working on an arctic animal series, so it is important that the animal first of all lives in the Arctic. Then I have to find a fitting arctic landscape to merge it with.’
Wisniewski has his own process for building up collections of useful images and then narrowing down to a selection which he thinks will fit in with a set of images he is working on: ‘Initially I need to gather some images to work with. For my own photography, I’m constantly building up a library of anything I think would be interesting to play with. When I’m starting a new graphic, I put together a few hundred extremely quick combinations of one texture and one base image (usually portraits).
‘From there, I sort everything into a few piles: Starting points for a final graphic; These are usually the most visually impressive. Ideas for a piece of a graphic. These images are interesting but aren’t worth much unless combined with something else; Bad ideas.
I expand on some of the starting points I’ve decided on, adding more and more imagery until I feel like I’ve reached a point where there’s no need to add more. Then the image needs to be cleaned up and prepared for whatever format I’d like to publish it on – web, print, etc.’
So, whether you have the technology or the software (Photoshop is recommended by Lie), why not give double exposure imagery a go? It’s a fantastic form to experiment with and can render some breath-taking results.