The Basics of Analogue Multiple Exposure, Part 1

Today, you will learn one technique for how to make your own analogue multiple exposures using just three things: 35mm film, a manual 35mm film camera, and a marker.

I will show the basics of two techniques which offer very different approaches, yielding a spectrum of creative potential. I will start with the technique that I commonly use and call ‘The Move’. If you are a Seinfeld fan then you’ll get the reference.

I call the second technique ‘Stop Short’, which will have to wait for another article. 

The Watchers Print
I captured 'The Watchers' on FP4 B&W Film on one day in Cork, Ireland.

Materials for In Camera Multiple Exposure

black and white or color film (100 ISO for this experiment)

a manual film camera

a marker

creative inspiration – the most important ingredient!

Material For In Camera Multiple Exposure

Notes About Materials

For Black and White negative film, I often use Ilford FP4 ISO, Agfa APX, Ilford Delta, Fomapan Classic, and TMAX but as long as the film is 100 ISO then you are golden. Higher than 100 ISO and you will have a hard time underexposing the film especially during the day. If you plan to shoot at night, then above 100 ISO would work fine.

For color, I use color slide film like Agfa Precisa or Ektachrome. Fuji Velvia and Provia work well for sharpness but the images can sometimes appear too blue because of ‘exposure latitude’. If you are new to color and color theory, and want to play safe, then stick with black and white film for this project. For the wild at heart, try color. Kodak Portra 160 ISO is worth a try for the color negative fans. 

As for film camera, use a manual film camera. An automatic film camera doesn’t work well because it will automatically wind the film forward and rewind the film all the way back into the canister when you reach the exposure. 

I use a Pentax K1000 for this demonstration.

First Technique : The Move

Loading the Film for the First Exposure Layer

1. Open the camera case.

Press the Shutter Release Button and Wind the Winding Lever
2. Press the shutter release button and wind the film advance lever.
3. Align the film intake spool so that the slot is facing forward. 

4. Insert film canister.

Make Sure Film Is Aligned Foward
5. Feed film into the film take up spool.
Advance Film One Frame
6. Advance the film one frame.
7. Mark where the camera sprockets meet with the film notches.
7. Mark where the camera sprockets meet with the film notches and . . .
7. Mark where the camera sprockets meet with the film notches and where the film meets the edge of the opening for the intake spool slot.
where the film meets the edge of the opening for the intake spool slot.
8. Close the camera and advance the film two times.
Take Pictures
You are ready to take your first layer! 

How to Rewind the Film and Reload it for the Second + Exposure Layers

When you arrive at the last film frame, you begin to rewind the film. To ensure you don’t rewind the film all the way  into the film canister follow these steps: 

Listening for the Film End
9. While you are turning the film rewind crank, you can count the number of times it cranks. Depending on the camera, it's about 20-25 turns. But don't rely on the number of turns!
The End of the FIlm Clicks
 10. Listen for the sound and feel for the film coming off of the spool. It's a very distinct sound but takes a little practice to know it. It's like a click. When you hear that sound, stop rewinding.

11. Open the camera back. 

12. Repeat Steps 1 – 6.

Photograph your second layer.

It’s up to you on how many exposure layers you want to add to the film. This is where you get to be creative and experiment with layers!

Try out different variations and see for yourself what works and doesn’t work. In a future article, I will write about what I learned from 15 years of taking multiple exposures. You can get all my secrets about how I do ‘The Move’, swirl and all.  

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Note About Exposure and Light Meter

A rule of thumb for exposure is slightly underexpose the first and the second layers, especially if you will take more than two exposure layers. If you take just two layers, then slightly underexpose the first layer but normally expose the second.  

Did You Try This Technique?

Send me your results!

You can write me a message here or share them with me on Facebook or Instagram. 

Using 35mm film, a Pentax K1000, and in-camera multiple exposure methods, I photographed Floating Island at Spiddal, at Maam Cross in Connemara, and finally at Coral Strand.
I captured 'Floating Island' on Agfa Slide film in three locations in Galway County, Ireland.
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