Photo Credits: Ravi Vora
Do you want to take a photograph so amazing that people simply say, “WTF”? We all do. And now that you’ve been PL365’n for three months, we think you’re ready to take your creativity up a notch. It’s time to raise the bar on photography and indulge in the art of double exposure…
Take it away Ravi ~
Hi, I’m @RaviVora and here’s a step-by-step tutorial on how to make this kind of image…awesome! This effect, also recognized as a double exposure in film terms, layers two photos on top of each other creating a visually interesting symbiosis between two images. When there’s a human element to the overall look, I call it #seethroughpeople. Many times the layers can tell a story separately, but together they can convey meaning beyond the potential of the individual photos.
STEP 1: First take a high contrast photo. Often, the easiest solution is to create an interesting silhouette against a brightly lit background. In this case, I have used my lovely girlfriend @lolamyers and her prize possession (a skull that I asked her to procure for a commercial I shot and we never ended up using it, but since have used it for many, many photoshoots.)
This was shot mid-day in our bedroom against our beige-ish curtains. Not the ideal situation, but it worked for our purposes. I would recommend shooting with a completely blown out or white background if you want the cleanest of effects, but if you’re going for some texture, then you have my blessings.
STEP 2: Next, you want to select an image that maybe isn’t the strongest on it’s own (not that you or I have ever taken a photo that wasn’t jaw-dropping), but would add some great interest as texture and variations of structure and light. Well composed, yet lacking a focal point. Focal points or strong subjects work too, but they need to be thought through otherwise it gets a bit messy. Repetition works very well, like trees, rocks, or buildings.
Here I’ve chosen a photo I took while hiking on a foggy day. I loved the textures and patterns of this photo but was never happy with the lack of focal point. Luckily, the contrast between the trees and the snow is going to work in our favor as an interesting play against the stark black silhouette in our other photo. Also, it’s nature, and she’s holding a deer skull, so it’s super deep and meaningful. Yeah.
STEP 3: Adjust contrast. I used Photoforge 2 for the heavy lifting on this image, but you can use any double exposure / blending / layering app available to you.
Try to make your background as light as possible and your subject as dark as possible without losing the nice soft gradients in-between from light leaks. As you can see in future images, her entire outline isn’t black, there are parts where the light wraps around her, and that makes for a pretty interesting effect. Remember, there’s beauty in detail and subtlety.
STEP 4: Make sure your layer order is correct. The silhouette image goes on top; the image that you’re going to see through the person goes on the bottom. I tried to come up with a mnemonic device for this but realized that I have too much time on my hands.
STEP 5: Set your blending mode to Screen. The magic is about to begin!
Keep in mind, you can also set your mode to Lighten, Multiply, or whatever you think looks best. Except Hard Light. Never use Hard Light. Unless you want to, then go for it at your own risk.
STEP 6: Look at your beautiful creation! Take a moment and bask in your creative prowess. Seriously. Go you.
You can export at this stage and start making adjustments or further edits, and if you took good pictures in the first place, you’re finished at this point. For the slackers at the back of the class, especially me, we get to have more fun together and fix our image.
STEP 7: Add a new white layer. See all those messy areas outside of her outline? I think they look great! But my OCD tells me that it’s all wrong and I need to expunge them from the face of my photo. By adding a white layer over her I can make sure we have a perfectly pristine white background by masking it in around her outline.
STEP 8: Mask in the white layer where appropriate.
I personally think it looks like the world’s worst Draw Something rendering of a Dragon. What do you think?
STEP 9: That’s looking good, let’s export it! Clean white background, nice silhouette, barely edited, it’s almost ready for Instagram.
If you just wanted to post this on any other service, it would be good to go. However, it’s a bit too tall for our square format art gallery, so we’ve got one more stop to make.
STEP 10: Square it up. I used Squaready to place the image within the square format just right.
With its pension for adding a white background, it worked perfectly and I was able to extend my canvas to make a great square.
VOILA! We’re finished. I hope you had as much fun as I did creating your #seethroughpeople and I can’t wait to see what creative and interesting images you’ll conjure up knowing that coffeehouse art critics will be eloquently discussing your work and merrily liking away as they scroll through your Instagram feed.
ABOUT RAVI VORA:
Ravi Vora is an award-winning Creative Director, photographer, and film director who has worked for clients from almost every industry, from luxury brands to family targeted brands. He last worked at one of the largest digital agencies in America, working with clients such a Disney / Pixar, Nestle, Gerber, and Coffee-Mate. He has rebranded the famous landmark The Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California, the world renowned sci-fi series Dune novels, and other clients of various industries and sizes.
Ravi is Founder/Director of Loyal Renegade Films, a production company in Los Angeles specializing in commercials, music videos, and film work.
He loves directing movies, creative direction, art direction, photography, graphic design, copywriting, and anything else creative. Big ideas realized beautifully, is what he lives for.