Multiple Exposure Photography

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So, I’ve been meaning to create a multiple exposure picture for a while now, and after doing much research and reading, finally, here’s what I produced today.


Multiple Exposure Photography


Self Portrait Using Multiple Exposure Photography



Pretty neat, heh!

Well okay, not pretty neat (you can easily spot some issues there) but then again, it’s more about the technique and getting it right.  We can always refine and experiment subsequently with more multiple exposure photography assignments.

So, here’s what I did, actually, fairly simple.

First of all, when I set up the scene, I set up the camera on a tripod with a wide angle lens.  This gives me enough room to identify multiple positions / spots in the frame that I can place myself.

I used an off-camera flash and I bounced it off of the ceiling (though in this case, an on-camera would have probably done the same job as long as it was being bounced off of the ceiling)

The aperture was set at f/5.6 and a shutter speed of 1/125 was used in the Camera.  I was getting a little darker images in the first set (ISO 50) so in the 2nd attempt, I used ISO 125 to get more light. As you can see, the 2nd set is far more brighter than the first one.

The technique for doing this is fairly simple as far as camera goes.  I just identified a few spots, that won’t overlap my position in the final frame and took a series of pictures with me in each of these spots.  You are going to need  either the 10-second timer or a remote shutter to shoot these series of pictures.  The original set of pictures looked like the ones below:

Multiple Exposure Set of 5 pictures - Image 1 Multiple Exposure Photography - Picture 2Multiple Exposure Photographs - Set of 5 Picture 3Picture 4 of Multiple Exposure PhotographyPicture 5 of 5



Once you have the pictures on a hard disk on your computer, open Adobe Photoshop (I use CS6, but the same principals/features apply for any version from CS3 onward)

Go to the File > Scripts > Load Files into Stack and it will open the screen below

Select Multiple Exposure Files

Click BROWSE button and navigate to the folder where you have the multiple exposure photographs stored.  Select all pictures, and check-box “Attempt to Automatically Align Source Images”

Select Files for Multiple Exposure

Once you click OK on the above, Photoshop will start loading up all files as separate layers on a new file.  The width and height for all images would be the same, so the Photoshop file will be of the same dimensions as the pictures you are loading.

In case they are different size, Photoshop will re-size the final file to match the image size with largest height/width in your stack.

Once your stack is loaded up, you will be able to see all images in the file as different layers.

Side-note: Basically, “Load Files into Stack” is a default Photoshop script that does a number of actions (notice the History on your file) before creating the final layer with each image/file stacked up as a layer.  Here’s a cool tutorial on “Load Files into Stack in Adobe Photoshop”.




Once you have the top layer selected, reduce the opacity to 40% so that you can see the layer directly below it.  Your screen will look like this, please make sure that you still have the top layer selected.

After Reduction of Opacity to 40%


Assuming that you have taken all shots on a tripod, the only new visible object on the screen is you (from the 2nd layer).  From the top layer, we will now erase this part, so that this portion of the 2nd layer becomes 100% visible.

On your tools menu, select the Eraser tool, and set the brush size to 45 with hardness of 50% (you can change the brush size to any pixel width, depending on how easy it is to use it on screen)

With the top layer selected, erase the parts of it that make layer 2 visible – in this case, my own picture sitting on the brown sofa.

Once you have done this, hide the 2nd layer, and repeat all the steps for all remaining layers.  Remember – The top layer will remain selected and for each new layer, whatever part of it becomes visible should be erased from the top layer itself.

After you are done with all the layers, do this small test – hide all layers below the top layer, and change the visibility of the top layer to 100%.

You should see something like this



Now, in your tools menu, select the LASSO tool, and set the feather to 15 pixels.

This time, we will make changes to all layers, except the bottom layer.  Use the lasso tool to select the area you want visible from each of the layers, select the inverse of this selection.  Go to Select menu and click Inverse or just press Ctrl + Shift + I  together, and the area outside of your lasso tool will be selected.

Select Inverse Layer for Multiple Exposure Photography

Delete the inverse of this selection from each layer by pressing the DELETE key on your keyboard.

REMEMBER – Do not perform this action on the bottom layer.  In the above sample, I have all layers hidden and the only layer visible is the top layer.  Individually, do this for all layers, (but not the bottom layer) to finish the photoshop processing.

That’s it, you’re done.  Flatten the image and you have the final product, that looks something like this.

Self Portrait Using Multiple Exposure Photography

How did you go?

Show me some of the pictures, post URLs in comments below.


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