Playing is an essential part of creativity and Multiple Exposure is certainly a creative technique. However, when you’re developing your abilities at a new skill you may forget to play around and have fun. If you’re anything like me, you may be more concerned with finding out what you should do and doing it right.

When we were kids, and before we got too indoctrinated by school routine, we learnt a lot about the world by playing. It was our go to mode. And it worked, look at you now! So give yourself permission to play. To have fun. To make mistakes, learn from them and try new things out.

That all said, let’s look at the idea of playing to learn a new skill in action. As you may know, I have been developing and honing my skills in Multiple Exposure over the last year. Having a project, with an intention to publish a gallery of photos that represented my feelings during the pandemic, has given my learning a focus. (See Pandemia here).

However, that intention has also made me purposeful and serious. Great qualities sure, but I didn’t always remember to have fun. However, I did start with fun! This example below is one of a series of photos I created when playing with extreme white balances, a defocussed lens at a wide aperture and 3 of 4 combined exposures in Dark mode. (If some of this information is new to you, but you are curious take a look at my online course A Creative Guide to Multiple Exposure and ICM).

Multiple exposure

Yes, that is a sofa, in the sunlight that was pouring in through my south facing lounge window. I got all excited when I saw that this kind of creation was possible in camera! I played about with the technique for a while, exhausted its initial possibilities and then moved back to serious practice. Having learnt how to use this method I occasionally revisited it, applying it to different scenes to see what could be created.

Most of the time over the last year I have stuck to using two of the four Multiple Exposure modes that my Fuji X-T4 has available – Bright and Dark. These seemed to provide the most interesting results. I found that the Average mode was a little uninspiring, whereas the Additive mode was just an explosion of light that didn’t seem to be practical. And then I discovered a trick that opened up a whole world of possibility. The overexposed highlights, created when using the Additive mode, when rescued in Lightroom revealed some magic. Here’s a one of the first single exposures of the scene, three of which were combined in camera to create the ‘Before LR’ version and then the ‘After LR’ to demonstrate.

Original scene – first exposure
Additive Multiple Exposure Mode
Before LR
Additive Multiple Exposure Mode
After LR

As you can see within the highlights sky blue, pink and yellow features were revealed. Also the colours were imprinted on the pattern of the tree’s branches. Having discovered this on my PC I then went out to deliberately play with this method. Initially, I kept to woodland and park scenes of other bare branches. Then I noticed that I was just repeating the same subjects and started to play with other possibilities. Here is my most recent favourite, created on a sunny, windy day gazing into a pond. Again it is just three combined exposures, using the Additive mode, in camera, plus some post production in Lightroom.

Drowning in Dreams

There is room for more play! There is always more room. More subjects and scenes to play with. More technical choices to combine with the technique. I have just started to introduce some extreme white balance choices to the mix, just to see what will happen to those blues, pinks and yellows. It’s still fun, and I’m sure there will be more exciting creations. But most of all, I know that I am honing my skills, enjoying the process and creating some photos that I love. And after all isn’t that why you are a photographer?

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