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Double exposure fun

By • Oct 3rd, 2008 • Category: Others

Since many had asked how I created double exposure photos with many film strips in it, I decided to do a simple ‘tutorial’ to share. There are of course many other ways to do it but I’m just sharing my method. I am using a monitor as the light source as it’s the most easily accessible light emitting device right in front of me. Read on to find out more.

Sorry if you need to read these a couple of times to understand, but I am just terrible at writing stuffs like these. This is the best I can do 😛 Note that this works only on film cameras … if you are shooting digital … you can skip the rest of these and go spend some time time on Photoshop instead.

Here’s what you need …

A roll of brand new film
A roll of unwanted unexposed film. Try using those film that has darker colors (you’ll read about why later)
A camera (of course!)
A computer with no minimum requirements (no, not to Photoshop!)
Some paper tape (not those heavy duty ones)
Some patience (very important)

Okay, let’s start!

Step 1 : A first look
First, take a good look at your computer monitor/LCD. Roughly gauge the height of the display area.

Step 2 : The cutting (no, not cutting your monitor!)
Since you now roughly know the height of your monitor display area, cut the roll of unwanted unexposed roll of film into strips with each having the length similar that of your display area height. Be experimental and feel free to cut some of different length to create more exciting results.

Step 3 : The sticky business
Now that you have several strips of film, stick them to the top of your monitor to create a ‘curtain’. By now you probably realize why I mentioned that it’s good to cut the strips closer to the height of the monitor display area … this will create more ‘canvas space’ for you to work with later. Those paper tapes are recommended as you won’t want some heavy duty adhesive tapes to leave some marks or make those strips of film permanent decorations on your monitor.

Diagram A

Step 4 : Creating ‘Layer 1’

Now comes the fun part! Once you have created that ‘curtain’ of film strips, it’s time to take photos! Excited yet? Hold on! The next couple of lines are important! Before you begin firing away, please take note of the following …

* You will need a blank background, so use any software you are familiar with and create an empty bright full screen image/document. I chose the easiest way (for myself) and created a new Microsoft Powerpoint document with white background and displayed it full screen. This way, I have a completely white background to work with!

* Switch on the maximum brightness on your monitor. You will wanna make sure the background is as bright as possible, so that only the black/dark film strips are captured on this first exposure (aka Layer 1).

As we want to make sure the film strips are as dark as possible, it’s best to work in a low light environment. I prefer doing it at night, so with the lights off, only the bright blank screen is the light source. Why do we need the film strips to be dark? This will allow your 2nd exposure to be exposed nicely on the strips of film.

Diagram B

Load the empty new roll of film into your camera. Before you close the back cover of the camera, you might want to make a marking on the film lead (using a marker pen), so that the frames when you do the double exposure will be as close as possible to the first. See diagram B above. This is not necessary if you wanna be more experimental and don’t mind trying out semi overlapping frames.

Set your camera to shoot 1 stop under, so that the 2nd exposure later won’t overexpose the shots. If you are using ISO200 film, just set your camera to shoot at ISO400.

Now get ready your camera and start taking photos of the strips of film. By now, you probably can imagine what we are trying to do, shooting boring empty black strips of film. Right? Keep shooting frame after frame until you finish the entire roll of film. Be creative and start moving the strips of film and messing it up, so that the end results won’t be all too identical (aka boring!). Just remember to keep as much of the film strips in the frame as possible (you won’t want an image of a tiny strip of image, do you?).

When you have reached the last exposure, just do a rewind (you’ll have to refer to your camera manual for that, if you do not know how) but make sure you leave the film leader outside. This is very important. You will need to load this same roll into the same camera (or another) for the 2nd exposure. If you accidentally rewind that much til no film is left outside the canister, drop by your friendly local lab and they’ll gladly help you extract it.

That’s it!!! You’re done with the first exposure! Remove those film strips from your monitor and keep them safely if you plan to do this again later.

Step 5 : The fun part!

Reload the same roll of film into the camera (or another camera), and this time, try align the marking you made earlier in step 4 with the right edge of the frame (see diagram B) before closing the camera back. Now you’re ready to go out and have some big fun shooting anything you like! Wait! Do remember to set your camera to shoot 1 stop under, as you will be screaming your head off if you overexpose the entire roll later. Once you’re done with the roll … send it to the lab and get it processed as per normal.

Step 6 : Dear God …
Pray hard for good results and collect the roll from the lab when it’s ready. Drop by again, leave a comment to let me know how you enjoyed doing this fun experiment … but if you screw up that roll … don’t curse me just yet. Load another and try again. 😛


  1. @Jayson : Great you find this informative. I was using a Nikon FA (with a closeup lens to get close to the film strips) and then a LC-A+ for the 2nd exposure. A Gakkenflex will be good for the 2nd exposure but I’m not sure if it will be good enough (to get close) to the film strips. One way is to have more film strips so that you can shoot them from a further distance.

  2. hello. 🙂 this is very very interesting, i will sure try this when i get my diana F+ next week. 😛 but i think it’s kinda hard.

  3. hello. 🙂 this is very interesting, i will sure try this once i get my Diana F+ next week. 😛 although it’s a bit hard, i think.

  4. @ezra : I’m sure it is possible to do it on the Diana F+. Do remember to share your results once you have tried it ok? Have fun!

  5. ndroo… where have u been my whole life…. THIS IS FREAKING GENIUS

  6. @lux : Glad you like this. Do share the results when you have tried it. 🙂

  7. hey this is very cool and interesting! i want to know, when i shoot the film strips, i turn off the light, and just the monitor that on right?and when i shoot the film strips, do i shoot it with flash, or without flash? thaankss ndroo 🙂

  8. @isil : You can do it with the lights off if you have the cam on a tripod. A long exposure will definitely be necessary. 😀 A flash is not recommended as you might get ugly patches of lights reflected by the shiny film strip or the monitor.

  9. if i don’t have a tripod?is setting my camera to “B” is what do you mean with long exposures?and what analogue camera is recommended to shoot the film strips?cause usually, lomo like holga, can\’t do the close chot, the need about 1 meter so they can focus to the object. thaaankss 🙂

  10. @isil : Well you can always use some other things like a stack of books as a support instead of a tripod. You may or may not require the ‘B’ mode. It all depends on the camera you are using. For long exposures … it all depends on the lighting. You might need a couple of seconds shutter speed to even longer. As for which camera to use … it is best to use one that can focus close to the subject. I am using a macro lens mounted on an old SLR.

  11. […] blogger) awesome double exposure photo’s some time back and I wanted to do something similar. I followed his instructions which are found here. But when I was putting up negatives to my laptop screen I was wondering if it wouldn’t be […]

  12. I am curious if you used any filters. I tried this and with daytime whitebalance film and the monitor appeared blue to the film and my shots did not come out very well.

  13. @tyler : Nope. I didn’t use any filter. I guess it is all due to the white balance of the film that you use.

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  15. Heyy,
    What if i am using a Nikon D3000,
    I really want to do this :/

  16. @Archana : Digital? Guess the only way to do it is in post processing. Using tools like Photoshop etc, you can do some layers to get this effect. Sorry I know only very basic Photoshop stuffs and not able to show you how it is done. I’m sure you can find some clues on how to do such layering online. 🙂

  17. do you keep the camera one stop under for both the 1st and 2nd exposure? :s

  18. @becca : Yes. You need to shoot them at one stop under to prevent overexposing them.

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