I learned a lot from just 2 rolls of film

My first experimentation with shooting double exposures on black and white film…

This has always been something I’ve wanted to try, but never started for various reasons. I’ve always wanted to emulate those double exposure shots with a vivid city background and a matching model. However, mustering up my motivation to go outside at night with my camera and tripod to take slow shutter speed shots of city life was quite difficult. After much hemming and hawing, I decided to start more modestly.

Leica M6 TTL, Summilux-M 50mm ASPH and Summarit-M 90mm lenses, Fuji Neopan 100 Acros film @ EI 100 total exposure, 1+100 Rodinal developed Modeled by Lady Aurora

Leica M6 TTL, Summilux-M 50mm ASPH and Summarit-M 90mm lenses, Fuji Neopan 100 Acros film @ EI 100 total exposure, 1+100 Rodinal developed
Modeled by Lady Aurora

The vision I had in mind was to overlay Latin text and magic circles over portrait shots of a model in dark witch-like or fantasy clothing. I wanted the result to be unpredictable and somewhat dark.

Leica M6 TTL, Summilux-M 50mm ASPH and Summarit-M 90mm lenses, Fuji Neopan 100 Acros film @ EI 100 total exposure, 1+100 Rodinal developed Modeled by Lady Aurora

Leica M6 TTL, Summilux-M 50mm ASPH and Summarit-M 90mm lenses, Fuji Neopan 100 Acros film @ EI 100 total exposure, 1+100 Rodinal developed
Modeled by Lady Aurora

The initial exposures were the magic circle and text overlays taken with the Summarit 90mm lens pointed at my laptop monitor. To obtain a proper double exposure result, I underexposed the shots 1 stop by shooting at EI 200 instead of EI 100. Lomography has a good mini tutorial on shooting multiple exposures. After shooting the roll, I carefully rewound the film so that the leader strip was still sticking out.

For the portrait shots, I went with a low-key light setup with a Kacey beauty dish as the main light and a snooted speedlight as a hair light. Like the overlay exposures, I underexposed by 1 stop as well. I used the Summilux 50mm ASPH lens for the portrait shots as it gave my more compositional flexibility while still providing subject isolation against the small backdrop.

Leica M6 TTL, Summilux-M 50mm ASPH and Summarit-M 90mm lenses, Fuji Neopan 100 Acros film @ EI 100 total exposure, 1+100 Rodinal developed Modeled by Lady Aurora

Leica M6 TTL, Summilux-M 50mm ASPH and Summarit-M 90mm lenses, Fuji Neopan 100 Acros film @ EI 100 total exposure, 1+100 Rodinal developed
Modeled by Lady Aurora

The results… were mixed. Many of the shots had the overlay covering key parts of the model or the overlay was too overpowering that it completely obscured the model. Out of the 72 shots, only about 13 produced workable photos. There were many lessons to be learned from all of the rejected photos. I learned that a high contrast black and white overlay makes for a rather poor choice. There’s no depth or blending. It’s comes out solid and will overpower or obscure the subject of the photo.

Leica M6 TTL, Summilux-M 50mm ASPH and Summarit-M 90mm lenses, Fuji Neopan 100 Acros film @ EI 100 total exposure, 1+100 Rodinal developed Modeled by Lady Aurora

Leica M6 TTL, Summilux-M 50mm ASPH and Summarit-M 90mm lenses, Fuji Neopan 100 Acros film @ EI 100 total exposure, 1+100 Rodinal developed
Modeled by Lady Aurora

The second lesson is that I will end up cropping the image by 10% – 20% since the frames typically will not overlap cleanly. That’s huge! Compositionally I need to either completely fill the frame or ensure that there is a significant buffer around the the compositional elements I want to keep that are near the edge of the frame.

Lastly, low-key portraits really don’t suit multiple exposures since it seems too much like floating in space.

Important lessons learned that will help improve my next set of double exposures. Many thanks to Lady Aurora for modeling for my experimental shots!