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I love making retro faded-film-like looks on Fujifilm cameras using the multiple-exposure feature. I have created a number of Film Simulation Recipes which utilize double-exposures to achieve a faded aesthetic. Some of these Recipe are Faded Negative, Faded Color, Vintage Color Fade, Faded Monochrome, and Split-Toned B&W. This type of Recipe isn’t nearly as popular as the “regular” ones that don’t use multiple exposures, and I’m pretty sure it’s because these are a lot more difficult to use. They are way less convenient and practical; however, they can be a good challenge and a lot of fun, and you’ll achieve results that a fairly unique.
I didn’t come up with a new double-exposure Recipe, but I did come up with a slight variation to this concept that I thought I’d share with you. If you are looking for something creative to try, this might just be what you are looking for. In any event, you’re sure to make some interesting images.
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Sometimes I get into a double exposure mood. It might seem difficult to create good double exposure pictures—thankfully, Fujifilm cameras make double exposure photography easy! In this article I’ll explain just how simple it is to do it, and also explain why it’s difficult to do it well.
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I love double exposure photography! If done right, you can cleverly create exceptionally artful pictures. But how do you do it on your Fujifilm camera? What are some easy techniques that give good results? In this article I’ll discuss this topic in detail and provide some useful tips to help you make your own artistic double-exposure photographs.
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I’ve created a number of film simulation recipes that require double exposures, including Faded Color, Vintage Color Fade, Faded Monochrome, Faded Monochrome for X-Trans II, Split-Toned B&W, and Bleach Bypass. These recipes are a little more difficult to use, and, because they require further explanation, you won’t find any of them on the Fuji X Weekly app. This one, called Faded Negative, won’t make the app, either (perhaps there will be a way to include them on a future update). These double-exposure recipes aren’t for everyone, but some people love them because you can create a great vintage look that you’d never expect to get straight-out-of-camera. I know that this Faded Negative film simulation recipe will be greatly appreciated by some of you.
To use this recipe, you’ll need to first select “Average” under “Multiple Exposure CTRL” in the Shooting Menu. What’s great about this particular double-exposure recipe is that the only change you will need to make in the settings between the first and second exposure is exposure compensation (many of these require more adjustments than just exposure compensation). You want the first exposure, which is the scene you are capturing, to be bright, and the second exposure, which is a green piece of construction paper, to be a little darker. You can control how much “fade” there is by the second exposure—the brighter the exposure, the more fade there will be.
What makes this recipe work is the second exposure of a medium-green piece of construction paper. You want this exposure to be out-of-focus. If it’s in-focus, you’ll get the texture of the paper in the image, which is perhaps something you want, but probably not. You can manually focus a blurry image, or if you just hold the paper closer to the lens than the minimum focus distance, the paper will be blurry even with autofocus.
No photograph will last forever. Some films are more prone to fade than others, and some prints are more prone to fade than others. Faded pictures are a reality of photography. While some people would consider faded images to be a negative thing, there are others who appreciate the aesthetic, and want to incorporate it into their art. This Faded Negative film simulation recipe is for those who want to achieve that look straight-out-of-camera. This recipe is compatible with the Fujifilm X100V, X-Pro3, X-T4, X-S10 and the upcoming X-E4.
Dynamic Range: DR400
Noise Reduction: -4
Grain Effect: Weak, Large
Color Chrome Effect: Strong
Color Chrome Effect Blue: Strong
White Balance: Auto, +4 Red & -6 Blue
ISO: Auto, up to ISO 6400
Exposure Compensation: +2/3 to +1 1/3 for the 1st exposure, 0 to +1/3 for the 2nd exposure (typically)
Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs using this new Faded Negative film simulation recipe on my Fujifilm X100V:
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There are many creative ways to use multiple-exposure photography on your Fujifilm camera. You can create pictures that might not at first glance appear to be multiple-exposure, yet using this tool opens up different aesthetics that aren’t otherwise possible to achieve in-camera. The multiple-exposure feature on your Fujifilm camera is often underutilized—there’s so much potential!
I’ve done a number of experiments with multiple-exposure photography, and written many articles on the topic. Below you’ll find links to some of those posts. If you missed them, or maybe you haven’t thought about multiple-exposure photography in awhile or at all, I invite you to give it a try!
A creative option found in many photo editing programs is texture. The texture, which might be canvas, paper, cloth, wood, etc., is added as a layer which can be blended as strongly or subtly as one might want. It’s a fun technique that adds an unexpected element to pictures. I used to occasionally do this when I used Alien Skin Exposure software. There are even some specialty films that have texture built-in, such as Revolog Texture films.
When I was experimenting with my Faded Color and Faded Monochrome film simulation recipes, which use double-exposure photography to create a vintage film aesthetic, it occurred to me that I could use the double-exposure feature of my Fujifilm X-T30 to add texture to my pictures in-camera. I could get a textured look without software. Incredible! So I begun to experiment with textured JPEGs, and the results were interesting.
You might ask, “I can do this in Photoshop in only a few seconds, so why would I want to do this in-camera?” That’s a good question that deserves a lengthy explanation. I used to shoot RAW, but I rely on camera-made JPEGs now. Why? It saves me tons of time and makes my photographs more honest. Since I started shooting JPEGs, my photography production has gone through the roof while my total time investment in photography has noticeably dropped. I’m creating more with less. It’s all thanks to Fujifilm’s superb JPEG engine. The honesty statement is a little more controversial, but it’s clear that photography in general has taken a large perception hit when it comes to integrity. Non-photographers (photography consumers) don’t take a picture at face value anymore, and “Photoshop” has negative connotations. People ask me, “How much is this Photoshopped?” I answer, “None of it, this is how the camera captured it. This picture is unedited.” You’d be surprised at the overwhelming positive responses that I get from this answer. People find it refreshing. Photographers don’t see anything wrong with photo manipulation; however, many non-photographers feel that it’s not the image that’s being manipulated by the photographer, but the general public. They feel as though they’re being tricked by dishonesty. Whether or not that perception is fair or should exist is a whole different discussion, but you can avoid it altogether by shooting JPEGs. People are looking for authenticity, and this is one way to move in that direction.
To capture a photograph with texture on your Fujifilm camera, you will first need to enable the double-exposure feature of your camera. On the X-T30 it’s found on a knob on top of the camera. You can use any film simulation, but note that double-exposure pictures on the camera will be flatter (have less contrast), so Velvia, Classic Chrome and Acros work best because they have more contrast. Astia and PRO Neg. Hi work alright, as well. You will want to have Highlight and Shadow set no lower than +2, and more might give better results. Don’t be afraid to try +4 on one or both. I also recommend DR100, and DR200 if the scene has a lot of contrast. I find that for the main exposure, exposure compensation typically needs to be in the +1/3 to +1 range. The second exposure, which will be the texture exposure, typically needs exposure compensation set to -1 to -2, and I usually start at -2 and adjust as necessary. The camera will show you what the picture will look like, and it also allows do-overs if you need it.
For texture, I found the best results came from a white stretched canvas for painting. I also tried other things, like burlap, cloth, paper, wood and metal, but the results weren’t as good in my opinion. I recommend trying different materials and seeing for yourself what you like or don’t like. After capturing the main exposure, capture a second exposure of the textured object. It’s really that simple. The camera gives a 50/50 blend of the two exposures, but because the first exposure is brighter and the second is darker, it will appear more in the neighborhood of 70/30, which is what you want. It might appear as though the image is actually printed on a textured surface.
This is a simple but creative way to use the double-exposure feature of your camera. You could really play around with this and get inventive. Try different settings, different subjects and different textures and see what happens. Below are examples of textured pictures I created using this technique on my Fujifilm X-T30:
A little over two years ago I saw some interesting photographs by Christoffer Relander where he used double-exposure photography to capture rural landscapes inside of glass jars. I thought it was a neat concept, and I wanted to try my hand at something similar. I didn’t desire to do the exact same thing, so I decided that instead of rural landscapes I would put urban, architectural and industrial scenes inside the jars. I used a similar (but slightly different) technique than him, and I chose a different subject with a different intended meaning to differentiate my work from his.
It wasn’t long before Christoffer discovered my jar photographs, but the reaction that I received was not what I expected, and it wasn’t positive. He sent me a note to inform me that my photographs were too similar to his, and he asked me to stop making these types of pictures. He told me that my images went beyond inspiration and were, in fact, copycats. He didn’t appreciate that I was trying to steal his idea and ripoff his project, in his opinion.
I want to make it clear that I’m not writing this to bash Christoffer. I respect his amazing artistry. He does great work! He has a lot of talent and I wish him tons of success. I encourage you to check out his pictures. I wholeheartedly disagree with his sentiments and accusations, but that was two years ago and I’m no longer hurt by them. However, this is an important story for this discussion, and that’s why I’m bringing it up.
After receiving the note from Christoffer, one of the first things that I did was research photographers who have captured images of jars, paying special attention to those who did multiple-exposure pictures. As it turns out, his project is not completely unique, and I’m not surprised by this because there is very, very little art that’s truly original. Almost all art has taken inspiration from something else. There are a ton of examples of jar photographs, even more examples of rural landscape photographs, and many examples of multiple-exposure photography involving jars or rural landscapes. What Christoffer did that was for the most part unique was combine those elements together in one image. Almost nobody had done that before him. And almost nobody had combined multiple-exposure jar and urban/architectural/industrial pictures together when I did it.
Two years have passed since then, and I lost interest in the project awhile back because I let my feelings get in the way of creating art. In the meantime many other people have come along and done scene-in-a-jar double-exposure pictures. It’s much less unique now because once some technique or idea gets attention, others want to do it, too. That’s perfectly alright, since nothing is truly original. Imitation is the greatest form of flattery.
“Start copying what you love,” wrote Austin Kleon in his book Steal like an Artist. “Copy, copy, copy, copy. At the end of the copy you will find yourself.” He also articulated, “Every new idea is just a mashup or a remix of one or more previous ideas.” I could quote Austin all day, but it all boils down to this: there are very few if any truly new or unique ideas, and almost everything that you think is new or unique is not, so what you have to do is take a little from this person and a little from someone else and mix it with yourself to form something that seems original.
“Nothing is original,” explained actor and director Jim Jarmusch. “Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadow. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable, originality is nonexistent.”
“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources,” Albert Einstein put it simply.
Creativity, which is a critical element for the artist photographer, is about stealing inspiration from whoever and wherever you can, mixing it all up and adding a little of your own unique perspective. Take a little from here. Take a little from over there. That’s what all creative people do. The secret is hiding your sources–not by lying, but by simply making it not so obvious who or what those sources are. My mistake was that I did not hide my sources very well, but Christoffer did a great job at hiding his sources, so I’m a copycat and he’s a genius.
There are two takeaways from this article that I hope you’ve discovered. The first is that it’s not only alright to copy others, it’s what you’re supposed to do, but with the caveat that you should mix in other influences and include a piece of yourself, as well. It’s not straight-up copying that you want to do, but stealing ideas and techniques and making them your own by including your unique perspectives. The second is that if you catch someone copying what you’re doing, don’t be offended! Take it as flattery. It’s a compliment. Besides, you stole it from someone else in the first place, so it’s not just you that’s being copied, it’s everyone who has influenced you and everyone who has influenced those who have influenced you. It’s all one big continuum, where everyone is copying everyone, and making beautiful photographs in the process. Go ahead and copy, and don’t feel bad about it for one moment, because without exception everyone steals inspiration from someone.