Go forth and multiply!

The multiple exposure mode on your Fujifilm X Series cameras is probably one of those functions that you know is there, but you’ve never really tried. You might have dismissed it as a little gimmicky, or perhaps just not thought that you could put it to much use. But trust me, this function is a highly-addictive way of taking images.

The good news is, every X Series model has the feature so you’ve really no excuse not to give it a whirl. Exactly how you access it will vary from model to model, but you should find the icon – two overlapping rectangles – in the Drive menu, the Adv. setting or, as on the X-T2 I used, the Drive dial on the top-plate.

Once you’ve selected the mode, the process of picture taking is simple. Point it at your first subject and take a picture. The camera will then give you the option to Retry the shot if you’re not entirely happy by pressing the left button on the rear quadrant or move on to the next shot  by pressing OK.

When you press OK, you’ll see that the original shot appears as a ghost image on the rear LCD or in the viewfinder so you can frame the second more accurately. You may also want to change the exposure with the exposure compensation dial, so you get a decent balance between the two exposures. That, essentially, is it. Once you’ve taken the second image you again get the chance to reshoot if you’re not happy, or press OK to save the file. Images are only saved as JPEGs.

The skill (and fun) comes in working out what combinations work best and the more you use the multiple exposure mode, the more you’ll realise the creative opportunities you have. Generally speaking, I found that combining a texture on the first frame with a subject in the second frame can render great results. The textures can be almost anything – I’ve used carpets, tarmac, wood and brickwork as starting points. It’s important that these textures are evenly lit, which is why you should shoot these multiple exposures on overcast days. The other option is to shoot combinations of subjects that complement one another, or the complete opposite. You really can let your imagination run wild.

Once you’ve captured your images, you may need to apply some further tweaks in Photoshop or Lightroom. For ideas or inspiration, take a look at these images, then get out there and give it a go yourself. I guarantee you’ll have a whale of a time.

My first shot here was a concrete inspection cover, then I cropped in tightly on this thatched cottage for an old world look. In Lightroom, I lifted the colours slightly using the Vibrance slider.

This church graveyard had some tombstones covered in ivy. I captured those first, then turned to capture one of the windows – I’m really pleased with this effect, which I further enhanced using the Bleach Bypass preset in Lightroom. Don’t know how to use presets? You can find details in my recent How to video.

This spooky-looking door was created by photographing a weathered wooden door and then this entrance door. Turning to Lightroom, I then applied the Yesteryear preset to make it look like a photograph from the 1800s.

Straight from the camera, this image is a simple combination of a Neighbourhood Watch sign with a warning to motorists to slow down. It’s all rather Big Brother, but the juxtaposition of the two shots works nicely, I think.

Get Creative with Multiple Exposures

Using the Multiple Exposure mode

Multiple exposures have been around for almost as long as photography itself and almost certainly came about as much by accident as by design. In the early days of photography, exposures often took many minutes, so any subject or camera movement during the time the shutter was open would cause a distinctive ‘ghosting’ or ‘double impression’ effect. This also occurred when a camera’s shutter opened twice or more on the same frame, exposing it more than once.

Many early photographers were only interested in documenting the world as their eyes saw it, and to them multiple exposures were a hazard. Others saw multiple exposures as an opportunity: a way to present a more artistic view, where reality could be turned on its head and a new way of seeing created. In the digital age, multiple exposures are more popular than ever and while many are created in image-editing software like Photoshop, it’s fun to take the traditional approach of doing it in camera. Fujifilm’s X-series cameras offer a smart, easy way to do this.

Multiple Exposure

How X-series makes it easy

When shooting multiple exposures on film, tricky mental arithmetic was involved because you had to work out the overall exposure settings, then divide that shutter speed by however many times you wanted to expose the film; do it wrong and you’d end up with an under or overexposed picture. What’s more, some guesswork was involved wherein you had to watch out for clashing elements in the scene that could spoil composition. Fortunately for X-series users, these concerns are a thing of the past, because using the screen as your guide you can make a perfect assessment of how the final image will look; you simply shoot the first exposure, then compose the second with it overlaid on the screen.

Multiple Exposure 

Creative ideas

Once you’re comfortable with shooting in Multiple Exposure mode, you’ll have a great time experimenting with different subjects and styles. For instance, try shooting your subject with the first exposure, then overlay it using a texture of cloud-scape with the second. It’s also a good idea to try shooting from a tripod; with the camera’s position locked off, static parts of the scene will look like a regular photo, while moving parts will turn into ghosts. Have fun!

How it’s activated

  • First turn the main Mode dial to Adv. (Advanced), then use the sub-command dial to set your desired aperture and shutter speed combination; Advanced mode is like Program mode in that the camera chooses the optimum settings, but you can still bias the aperture, shutter speed, ISO or exposure compensation.
  • Next press the MENU/OK button, select the Adv. MODE in the Shooting menu and choose MULTIPLE EXPOSURE.
  • Hit OK, then BACK to return and you’ll see overlapping squares in the bottom left of the screen showing you’re in the right mode. Now you’re ready to shoot.
  • Frame up and shoot your first image and it will be displayed on screen.
  • Hit left on the D-pad to cancel and try again, or if you’re happy with it, press OK to move onto the next shot.
  • Now, using the screen as a real-time guide, frame your second shot. At this point you can also change the shutter speed, aperture, ISO and most importantly the Exposure Compensation, making sure the two exposures work together and aren’t too light or dark.
  • Shoot and once again, you’ll have the opportunity to cancel and try the second shot again or hit OK to confirm.

That’s all there is to it!