Double Expo and thoughts on Contemporary Photography




Okay, so both images are “traditional” double exposures, meaning they were done “in camera” rather than superimposed in Photoshop.

The first image has two very different approaches. The first shot was a long exposure of trees while moving the camera up and down. The exposure time for the little orange flowers was typical for the time of day.ย The second image was simply two exposures of different flowers in my garden.

The question I would like to pose is: Does it matter if an effect is done in camera or in Photoshop?Think about it. In this digital age, using this new technology, does it really matter anymore if the process is created one way or another? Does creating a specific effect using one machine or another, or both, make any difference, and if it does, is that difference really relevant anymore?

I don’t believe I could have achieved identical images if I had used Photoshop instead of doing the double exposures in camera. I’m also not convinced what I did in camera would be any better than if I had tried the same thing in Photoshop.

More and more, process means very little to me in the sense that it is the final image that has to be visually interesting. The image has to be more interesting than the process. I don’t care if an image was created on a cell phone or by a lens you invented with paperclips and your grannie’s reading glasses. If it sucks, it doesn’t matter how it was made. And if it’s great, it doesn’t matter either. It’s very much like when someone asks what lens or camera you use. The lens and camera don’t matter as much as the vision of the person using this equipment or technology.

However, I cannot ignore the fact that a process can become problematic. Some processes themselves are cliched. Instagram is a lot of fun for people, but it can be a problem when I look at an image and I can tell what filter was used. Same goes for software like Nik, Alien Skin, Topaz, etc. Filter effects become cliches. Just like a scene can be cliched, a process can also be cliched. That is the trouble with relying too much on filters.

There is very much a “period style” in photography at this time and it looks like a retro filter.ย One thing I often think about is how to get around this period style, how to work against it, even how to use it in a new way. These questions are where my portrait series, “Versions” come from. I am creating my own set of “filters” from various images, superimpositions, masks and painting, and several different sources.

Anyway, I don’t often write my thoughts on contemporary photography, but I am always grappling with it in my work. I realize I have not answered any questions here, but hopefully, I have created a few.




20 thoughts on “Double Expo and thoughts on Contemporary Photography

  1. I think you are absolutely spot on. Especially the paragraph beginning, “More and more, process means very little to me . . .” Having said that I am very curious how you do a double exposure in a digital camera.
    Great images, by the way.

    • lol, well, it may be different depending upon the camera you use, but on my Nikon: Go to shooting menu, highlight multiple exposure mode. You can also choose how many exposures you want in one shot, and if you just want to do it for one image or a series of them–meaning it will keep producing the multiples.

    • Thank you, Anita! Yes, I can do all sorts of things in camera, even HDR. Most of the time, I just leave it on manual, but it can be an interesting change of pace to try some of the various options.

  2. All of college I insisted on creating all effects in front of and within the camera. I would only use Photoshop for minor color and level adjustments. If spacing or lighting was off, I’d re-shoot. Now, I can’t seem to stick so strictly to these guidelines. I think it is important to be able to use all the technology we can- to explore different mediums and different ways of doing things so that you can create the best image possible. While the process can be intriguing, it is the outcome that matters.

    • Thanks for your thoughtful reply! Haha, I still want to get it right in camera, that is the perfectionist in me, but I’m much more open-minded now about post processing, and for me, I think it is becoming as important as pre-visualizing. This is especially true when I am out shooting for no particular reason, just for fun. I don’t always have a “concept” in mind when I pick up the camera. I also like to use the camera as a way to discover the world rather than to define it in any specific way.

      • Yea, I’m still plenty a perfectionist. I always build and re-build my sets to get them just right. All I’m saying is that I’ve come around to being more open to what Photoshop has to offer and making adjustments within it, and not judging those who use Photoshop more heavily than I do. It’s so easy to treat art as a competition and yet I feel that it’s important that each artist maintains his or her own vision. Thanks for the great post. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Yes, I agree with you entirely. It is almost silly to be competitive with photographic art these days because there are SOOOO many photographers. When I think about how many there are, it really humbles me and just makes me realize that I have to do this for myself, because I enjoy it and it adds meaning to my life.

  3. First off, the images are stunning! I’m with you on the don’t care how it was done issue – as long as the image is a good one. I think most great ones, images that make you think what the, are made with a spirit of adventure, and a disregard for the rules. We’re the ones taking the shots, so we make the rules anyway. Totally agree about filters too – they’re the fastest way to date your work IMHO.

    • Thanks, Richard! Yes, for me the best images are “found” more than planned. They can be planned, but it’s capturing that unplanned moment, the decisive moment, as HCB so aptly put it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. The doubles are very nice. If you didn’t say anything about process, I probably would be wondering “how did you do that?” All things digital have changed the approach, but it’s what you aiming for that counts.

  5. What terrific images Jennifer and a truly enjoyable read. Food for thought. I see both methods as skills to be acquired and enjoyed for their own merits. A traditionalist can be excited by what can be achieved in Photoshop and I think vice versa a user of solely digital methods can be interested in the methods from film photography.

  6. I’m catching up ob blogs today, a little bit anyway. Way behind. I’m with you on pretty much everything you’re saying. Of course the point is not the equipment, or exactly how you got there, but the image itself. And you’re making some great images. I love the second one, but you’d guess I would love that. I hear you about recognizing certain filters or processing styles too. Here’s another cliche; thanks you for sharing! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. Yes, it’s the image what is important. The process is secondary to it. But it’s important there is an idea behind the use of a certain process. Otherwise it’s only a little nice game. The double exposure you made on the flowers not only give an aesthetic pleasant result but make the flowers themselves more dreamy. And flowers are about dreams ๐Ÿ™‚
    PS: maybe you find interesting to read this about :


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s