Unique Flower Photography Using Multiple Exposures

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Most of the new cameras from both Nikon and Canon now have the capability to create multiple exposures. The technique is rather simple to set up, but the results can be both unlimited and unpredictable. So try using this feature to create some unique floral images.

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Set-up

  1. Select Multiple Exposure from your camera’s menu. The default option on this setting is, of course, OFF. Select the ON option. Some cameras will give you the option here for ON (series) which will keep the option on until you turn it off or ON (single photo) which will capture only one multiple exposure image.
  2. Scroll down to select the number of shots you desire, select either two or three. (Some cameras will allow you to select up to 10).
  3. The third setting is Auto Gain. When set to ON, your camera will automatically adjust exposure gain for the addition of each image. In the OFF position you must manually adjust for the exposure of each layered image. (All the sample images here were created with the Auto Gain ON.)
  4. Confirm that you have Multiple Exposure set to ON and hit OK.
  5. You’re now ready to shoot, so set up your exposure and focus like you would do with any floral image.
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Taking multiple exposure images does take some practice to perfect, and you will have a lot of throwaways. As you take each exposure, your camera will show you a preview of the image just exposed, and you have 30 seconds to shoot the next image or the camera will finish the process without any additional exposures. After the last exposure of the series, you will see the final image.

Type of Multiple Exposure Images to Try

The resulting photos you can accomplish with this technique are limited only by your own creativity. The following paragraphs describe how to shoot three types of images:

  • The Twist
  • The Fill
  • The Shoot Through

The Twist

In this method, set the number of shots to three. The key to this method is to keep the center of the flower in the same location on all three images. Using your spot focus point as a reference point to help keep the images aligned, take the first image. Keep the center of the flower in the same location of the view finder and turn the camera to the left or right and take a second exposure. Then, again keeping the center of the flower in the same location, turn the camera again and take the third image. The degree of your turn can vary depending on the size of the subject flower. Remember to refocus before each of the three exposures.

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The Fill

In this method you will fill the frame with flowers by shooting however many multiple exposures you choose and placing flowers in different locations within the frame with each exposure.

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The Shoot Through

Set your number of exposures to two. Your first exposure should be a normal exposure of the floral subject. Without changing the focus setting, move your camera closer to the flower to fill the frame with an out-of-focus image, which will give you a soft shoot-through effect.

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Other Tips

  • Some Nikon models will automatically turn off Multiple Exposure after each image, so you will need to go back into the menu and turn it back on after each image is completed.
  • Simple backgrounds work best.
  • Most successful images are shot handheld. Using a tripod to create these images makes it difficult to move freely.
  • LiveView will be disabled on your camera during multiple exposures.
  • Remember, after your first exposure is taken, if no operations are performed within the next 30 seconds, the camera will automatically end the Multiple Exposure mode.

Creating Multiples in Photoshop

If your camera doesn’t have the Multiple Exposure options, you can still create these same effects in Photoshop.

  1. Take all your images as describe above as single frames. Open the first image in Photoshop.
  2. Open the second image and copy and paste it onto the first image as a second layer. Change the layer blending modes to multiply. You can experiment with different blending modes to get some wild effects. You can also change the opacity of each layer to get the effect to your liking.
  3. Repeat Step 2 for every image in the series.

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Shooting multiples is a lot of experimenting, but when you get a good image, you will know it! This method can also be used for many other kinds of images. For example, try shooting a silhouette and filling it with another image. . . the possibilities are endless!

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Bruce Wunderlich is a photographer from Marietta, Ohio. He became interested in photography as a teenager in the 1970s, and has been a passionate student of the art ever since. Bruce recently won Photographer’s Choice award at the 2014 Shoot the Hills Photography Competition in the Hocking Hills near Logan, Ohio. He has also instructed local classes in basic digital photography. Check out Bruce’s photos at Flickr

  • Great article Bruce. I have to try your process… terrific images!

  • DavidGLamb

    This method can also be used for many other kinds of images. For example, try shooting a silhouette and filling it with another image. . . the possibilities are endless! http://sn.im/28wjrxn

  • Amy Baker

    I wouldn’t have thought about the “Shoot Through.” Will have to try that.

  • Miriam Poling

    Excellent article, Bruce.

  • I know aren’t they fun! I loved this idea when I saw his images.

  • Bruce Wunderlich

    Thanks everyone for your comments about Multiple Exposures of flowers. Spring is a great time to try this Technique.

  • Very cool idea, I’ll have to try this. I’m also thinking it might be fun with a static foreground and a changing sky.

  • Michael Owens

    Ooh nice, will have to check if my D3200 has this option, and I don’t think it does. I know it can merge two images together, but I don’t think I can actually take a multiple exposure shot.

    🙁

  • Bruce Wunderlich

    Stephen, there are many possibilities for multiple exposures, I think you could probably even do in camera HDR.

  • Bruce Wunderlich

    Thanks Michael, I don’t see multiple exposures mention anywhere in the D3200 manual, but you can still get the same effect by combining your images in Photoshop.

  • Michael Owens

    Yeah, I’m a 20yr vet with Photoshop, but – a true double exposure, should be done in camera IMO hehe. Thanks Bruce.

    🙂

  • Bruce Wunderlich

    I agree Michael, Me too on Photoshop, I have been using since version 1.0, have you tried Lightroom? It does a great job used in conjunction with photoshop.

  • Michael Owens

    I actually never have Bruce, always been too much of a ‘Photoshop works – dont change’ attitude hehe, even though many photographer friends swear by it.

    Bridge and Photoshop do me.

    I might have to eventually though, if it becomes more important than Colour Effex Pro lol

  • Johan Bauwens

    My new Canon 6D has this too, but I haven’t used it a lot though.

  • Gail Mogan

    I love this idea! Thank you ver much. I can’t wait to try it! Its a beautiful day today, the perfect time to experiment! 🙂

  • Guest

    How about that! I didn’t know my Nikon D5100 would do that. I was aware it would take multiple exposures but didn’t know why anyone would want to do that. Here’s my first attempt with flowers I gave my wife for Mother’s Day.

  • Guest

    How about that! I didn’t know my Nikon D5100 would do that. I was aware it would take multiple exposures but didn’t know why anyone would want to do that.

  • Bruce Wunderlich

    Hi Johan, Try it, experiment!, have fun with your camera

  • Bruce Wunderlich

    very nice, keep experimenting, its a fun technique.

  • Awesome sauce

    photoshop has been around for twenty years? sorry, that was random.

  • Bruce Wunderlich

    First released in 1990

  • Awesome sauce

    wow. That is older then i thought.

  • I’ve been using it since about 1995

  • Saurav Dhyani

    Hi all, i have also tried doing this multiple times and love to do it with a purpose.. will surely share my images here shortly.. ever since i m clicking such images, i thot its only me who love this … great to see such artiles which appreciate photographer who love to break the rules :)… thnx much..

  • Guest

    Here is my pi… hope you like this.

  • Saurav Dhyani

    Here is my pic.. i used the Photoshop method for this pic.. hope it qualifies for this discussion 🙂

  • Michael Owens

    Ahh… you thought I was a liar eh? :p

  • Awesome sauce

    No, i have always thought that editing was a newer thing like, since 2000. In case you couldn’t tell… I have the “Amateur” part of Amateur photography down. I wasn’t even born then.

  • Bruce Wunderlich

    Hi Saurav, very cool. Love the Zoom effect you did on this one in Photoshop. I am going to try to do this one in camera. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Michael Owens

    lol! See, Google can be your friend, sometimes helps before engaging the brain hehe! 🙂

    We are ALL amateurs btw, even the pros learn everyday!

  • maria martins

    Allwesy learning.i din.t it can be done by th camera i don.t if my does .canon 700d.

  • Saurav Dhyani

    Thnx Bruce for liking this, pls do share the pic you take.
    May i request you to also, visit my page on Facebook.
    http://www.facebook.com/sauravfotografe

  • Saurav Dhyani

    Pls also, chk out the pic here… used same Photoshop technique, but made the flower edges look glowing.

  • Mirriam

    can anyone teach me how to do this settings on my nikon D90.(as i try to do the multiple exposure settings,its currently off,as i try to activate it,it says its not available at the current settings)
    please kindly help me.thanks

  • Bruce Wunderlich

    Hi Mirriam, On the D90 if you are shooting in Auto Mode, then Multiple Exposure is not available. Try switching to one of the other shooting modes, like Aperture (A), Shutter (S), Manual (M) or Program (P). Let me know if you still have problems.

  • Patricia Argo Williams

    I used photoshop.

  • Bruce Wunderlich

    very nice, love the black and white conversion

  • My Uncle Noah just got an almost new cream Volkswagen Golf R by working parttime off of a pc online.visit their website on my` prof1Ie`

    PP)))))))))))

  • Kathleen M Pearson

    I love this! Must go to Photoshop right now and start experimenting. Thank you!!

  • animesh gulati

    Created with 11 exposures using Photoshop 🙂

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