Easy Double Exposure Photography with the Nik Collection

by Jul 11, 2022Photo Editing Tutorials

Robin Whalley Landscape Photographer

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Easy Double Exposure Photography with the Nik Collection

Double Exposure Photography is a popular technique used by many fine art photographers. It can produce striking visual effects that add an additional layer of interest to what might otherwise be a standard shot.

Historically in double exposure photography the photographer would shoot an image. Then, without advancing the film, they would take a second image so that the two appeared in the same frame. Whilst this sounds easy, the process was made more difficult by the need to consider the film exposure as well as how the two images might look when combined.

Today some digital cameras include a double exposure feature that you can use to take and merge two shots in camera. My own Fuji XT3 has such as feature but I seldom use it. It’s often only after I see an image on my computer that I think it might benefit from being a double exposure photograph.

When this happens, I could use either Affinity Photo or Photoshop to merge two images, but the process isn’t always easy. Fortunately, the Nik Collection has a simple solution in the Analog Efex Plugin.

What is Nik Analog Efex?

If you are familiar with the Nik Collection, you will know that it’s a collection of powerful photo editing plugins. You can use these plugins with compatible photo editing tools like Lightroom, Photoshop and Affinity Photo, but they can also be used as stand-alone editors.

Analog Efex is just one plugin in the Nik Collection and was recently upgraded to version 3 in the recently launched Nik Collection 5. It’s intended to apply special effects to images like those you might see in film photography. This also includes a Double Exposure filter that makes creating double exposure photography simple.

Applying the Double Exposure Filter

To create a double exposure photo, first open the first image that you want to use in Analog Efex Pro.

When the plugin launches you will see your chosen image in the centre. Depending on the version of Analog Efex you’re using, you may find one or more filters are already applied to the image. These are seen on the right side of the interface as in the following screenshot.

If there are any filters already applied to the image, take a moment to remove them. If you’re using the Nik Analog Pro 3 version, you won’t be able to remove all the filters as there is always one filter left. Instead, you will see a tick box to the top left of this filter which you can use to disable it.

Over on the left side of the interface, locate the Camera Kit section. This contains a list of special effect filters you can apply to the image, include the Double Exposure filter. Click this to add the filter to the image.

The default double exposure effect adds a soft, blurred zoom to the image as seen in the screenshot above. This is controlled by the Zoom Strength slider in the Double Exposure filter. The slider usually defaults to 100% strength.

Move the Zoom Strength slider to the left and a value of 0% to remove the effect. Do remember that the filter will still be applying an adjustment affecting the exposure and contrast.

Controlling the Double Exposure Effect

As you move the Zoom Strength slider to the left, you probably notice the zoom control appear over the image. This looks like two circles which you can click and drag to control the effects. If you try making an adjustment using this control, you will see the sliders of the Double Exposure filter also respond.

There is though a second control in the filter which might not be immediately obvious. In the following screenshot you can see the zoom control (1) mentioned above and the second control (2) which appears as a small circle.

When you click this second icon using your mouse, it expands to show a rectangular control. Whilst you can control this effect by clicking and dragging the rectangle, it isn’t affected by the Filter sliders.

There are three ways to adjust this second control using your mouse:

  1. Click and drag the centre point of the control to reposition the effect centre on the image.
  2. Click and drag one of the corner points. This causes a duplicate copy of the image to appear from the control. How far you drag determines how large the second copy of the image is.
  3. Position your mouse pointer just outside a corner and click. You will see the pointer change to a curved arrow. You can then click and drag with your mouse pointer to rotate the duplicate image.

Further Control Over the Double Exposure

In addition to controlling the size and angle of the double exposure photo, you might want to adjust the exposure.

As mentioned earlier, the way the filter blends the two images of the double exposure can create an increase in the exposure and contrast. To control the exposure, you can use the “Exposure” slider in the Double Exposure filter panel. Move the slider to the left to reduce the exposure and to the right to increase it.

You should also remember that double exposure photography involves blending two images together. The Double Exposure filter in Analog Efex Pro allows you to control how you balance these two exposures so you can make one appear dominant. You do this using the Exposure Balance slider in the filter. Move the slider left or right to emphasis one of the two exposures over the other.

For move ideas about how to use the controls of the Double Exposure filter watch this video.

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The Nik Collection is a great set of tools for editing photography and creating special effects. I have used these tools regularly since 2008 and continue to do so, having recently upgraded to the Nik Collection 5. Read this article I recently published to learn more about the Nik Collection 5 and what’s changed since the previous version.

If you would like to try the Nik Analog Efex Pro 3 plugin used in this tutorial, visit the DxO Nik Collection site to download a trial version of the software.

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