Multiple Exposures – Made Easy

Do you own a camera?

Any camera – even P&S, iPad or Smart Phone

Do you have access to Photoshop?

If you answered “yes” to both, this simple tutorial will have you making beautiful multiple exposure images in no time flat! Without needing to be a Photoshop pro!!

Freeman Made Me Do It

6-shot multiple exposure – while zooming in & rotating the camera

Exposures combined via the technique described below

Image title – Freeman Patterson, the “father” of this technique

Technical – Nikon D70s, Nikon 75-300 (from 95-165 mm in 6 steps), 1/100 sec, f/16, EV=-2/3, ISO200, WB=Cloudy, multi-segment metering, aperture priority, RAW capture, tripod

This was 6-exposures made while zooming in and rotating around an off-center rotation point. Tripod necessary to maintain a precise center of rotation.

You can vary # of exposures, zoom or not (in or out), rotate or not (about the center or not), pan the camera (or not) vertically or horizontally or free form – there’s no limit. Experiment!
NOTE: Since this tutorial is for combining multiple exposures in Photoshop, not in your camera, you do NOT (nor should you) need to make any exposure setting adjustments beyond what you’d do if each exposure were a single standalone image.
The task of actually combining exposures, as described in this tutorial, will take a small fraction of the time that it takes you to read this (and me to explain it). Enjoy!

Composition (in the camera, not via cropping in post) –

Offset center of interest

Fill the frame with a large swirl

Brightest/sharpest area will attract the eye first – in this case the yellow flower center right in the middle of the center of interest


1. Capture NX2 for RAW conversion
2. Combine the six exposures in Photoshop using a script described below
2. Final tonal & color contrast adjustments in Color Efex Pro

How the above image was made.
1. The Image Capture Step is shown & explained in the following screen capture.

Click to enlarge – else you won’t be able to read the notes which are IMPORTANT (and won’t be repeated in the body of this post)
(Historically, I’ve found that even after a note like the preceding less than 20% of readers follow the suggestion. ???)

Did you read the notes on the screen capture?  Just checking. 😉 [Update – 5 of the 1st 57 readers enlarged the image.  🙁 ] ________________________________________________________
Processing Steps -(Illustrated with Photoshop Elements 8; similar or same with Photoshop)
1. Load the exposures into PS.

2. Now drag and drop all of the images onto the current background layer image.

Until all of the captures are in layers as shown below –

3. The next step requires a free Photoshop script that will automatically combine all of the layered images into a single multiple exposure. It does its magic in 2-3 seconds – which would take you at least 10-minutes manually (and yours probably won’t look as good either).

Go here for an article describing this script.
And here for a link to the script download (DOP_LayerStackOpacityBlending at bottom of page).

From this point I’ll describe the process for Photoshop Elements which, strictly speaking, doesn’t support scripts (but I’ll show you how to beat the PSE system). For those of you using full Photoshop read the Readme.txt that comes with the download and your PS user guide related to scripts for all that you need to know.
3a. OK – here’s my using scripts with PSE tutorial.

The download provides three .jsx (java script) files.
Ignore 2 of the 3 – you’re interested only in DOP_LayerStackOpacityBlending.jsx.

Click to enlarge the above to read the download contents.

Here’s the hard part (just kidding) –

drag this file (from where ever you saved it) onto PSE as shown below.

That’s it, just drop it there  –

and 2-3 seconds later it’s all done and you’ve got your multiple exposure image as shown below.
Note the PSE “before (above)/after (below) drop” screen change.

So – that’s all there is to it. With these simple steps anybody can create multiple exposure images.
As with almost any image, the multiple exposure image produced by the script could stand some basic tonal & color contrast adjustments.

It’s a little flat as is for my taste.
Top – as it came from the script. No radical adjustments needed – just a tweak.

In addition to the zoom and/or rotate style shown above, a few of the other types include –

Vertical Pan –

Free Form

The introduction said use any camera -even a P&S. Even  a 0.9MP iPdad? Sure, why not. That’s what was used for this next image.

A few references from my previous posts on this topic –

1. General

2. Free Form 

3. Another Free Form

There are lots more. Use the Site Search Box at the bottom of the right sidebar.

Don’t see a sidebar?
Click on the blog title in the blue header at the top of this page.

[Update. I thought this was one of my better instructional posts. However, after seeing that only 5 of the first 57 readers enlarged key images to see what was done AND only four downloaded the script, I think some re-evaluation is needed on my part. Not worth the effort just to reach less than 10% of the audience – who I assume & hope were at least the four people for whom I specifically wrote this.] ________________________________________________________

0 thoughts on “Multiple Exposures – Made Easy”

  1. Thanks, Travis.
    A suitable subject could be just about anything. Experiment & be surprised. Probably a week’s worth within your house & yard.
    Here’s a gallery with a few that might give you ideas. You can tell by the dates that they’re from when I first tried to do multiples; learned a bit since. None of them are what I’ve been experimenting with lately that I call free form as described in the “Free Form” post linked in the final section above.

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