I've had a great time so far this summer partnering with Adobe as a Photoshop Elements ambassador, and I'm excited to team up with them again today to bring you guys another tutorial! For my first tutorial in this series, I showed you how to give your photos a dreamy, summertime-inspired look using the lens flare filter in Photoshop Elements. One of the things I mentioned was that a lens flare often occurs unintentionally when taking photos, yet it can end up creating a really magical image. So for today's tutorial, I thought it would be fun to demonstrate how to replicate another often unintentional photographic effect that, like the lens flare, can transform ordinary images into unique works of art: the double exposure.
The double exposure is something we don't often see in the digital world, but in the days of analog photography and manual winding cameras, it wasn't a rarity. The concept is very simple: when a piece of film is exposed twice to two different images, the second image is superimposed onto the first. Usually this isn't the desired outcome, but sometimes the effect can be really fascinating and quite lovely. The images above are the result of unintentional double exposures on 120 film. My husband and I were playing around with our Holga camera for the first time a few summers ago, and didn't realize we'd taken a few multiple-exposed shots until after the film was developed. Although the photos aren't technically perfect by any means, we both loved the unique aesthetic that was created by the combination of images.
These days, you don't need a film camera in order to produce a double exposure style image. In fact, in a few simple steps in Photoshop Elements, we can create the same effect - but with a lot more control. As with my last tutorial, when you're going through these steps, keep in mind that there are no right or wrong adjustments, levels or tweeks. When choosing which images to combine, try to envision whether or not they'd flow together visually. I usually like to choose a landscape or wide angle shot for the background, and a portrait or image with a focal point of one specific subject to stack on top. But it can look just as cool to use two landscapes or two portraits together. The best way to go about this is to experiment, be creative, and have fun.
*For larger views of screenshots, click on the images.
A. Add a Layer Mask. To give myself a little more control over how the images were blended, I added a layer mask. I'll admit that I don't use the layer mask technique all that often, but it can be pretty incredible tool. Basically, a layer mask allows you to choose parts of a layer to hide while allowing other parts to show through. To do this, I selected my top layer, then clicked on the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers Menu (1).
B. Paint Layer Mask. Next, I painted the layer mask black to reveal more of certain portions the background layer. To do this, I selected the Brush Tool from the Toolbox Menu (2) on the left side of the screen, chose black for the Foreground Color (3), chose a soft Brush from the Brush Menu (4) on the top left, chose a Brush Size (5), and set the Opacity (6) to 30%. I then painted over the image in the places where I wanted to reveal more of the background layer.
Here are a few additional examples of images where I used the same techniques in Photoshop Elements that I outlined in steps 1-5 above. For some of these I also used some of the optional edits I explained above, and for others, I played around with different features within Adobe PS Elements to come up with different results.
I hope you guys enjoyed this tutorial, and that you have fun creating these artistic double exposure effects with your own images. Let me know if you have any questions, and of course, if you try this tutorial yourself, I'd love to see your photos!
To read more about my role as a Photoshop Elements Ambassador, click here. To view my first tutorial in this series, click here. In addition to here on the blog, you can follow my PS Elements Ambassador adventures over the next few months via my Twitter and Instagram (@bubbyandbean) accounts. You can also keep up to date with the project and other Photoshop Elements goodness by visiting Adobe Photoshop Element's Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube accounts.