swapping film for double exposures

I’m not sure what it is about double exposures that makes me love them so much, but I do. They’re like magic. They’re even more like magic when you have no idea what both of the pictures are so the result is a total surprise. There are two ways I can think of to do this: the first is to take one picture and then wait a long time until you’ve forgotten what you took a picture of, and then take another one on the same frame. I’m way too impatient for this method. The other way is to do a film swap–shoot the whole roll and send it along to someone who’ll shoot it again. My friend Cara and I have tried this twice now (you can see some of her favourites from our last attempt here, and visit her blog here!). Here are some of my favourite results from our latest roll:

If you want to do a film swap, here are some handy things we’ve learned so far or are still working on:

1. Since each frame will be exposed twice, you have to shoot images one stop underexposed. We used 400-speed film, and I set my camera’s ASA rating to 800. If you can’t set this value on your camera, you could also just take your meter reading and set your camera one stop differently (e.g., if it says to shoot at 1/125, shoot at 1/250)

2. We’re still working on getting the frames lined up. This time, Cara marked the film with a marker where it lined up with the sprocket holes before she closed the camera, and I used her marker to line up mine. We were still a bit off, any advice here is welcome!

3. Leave the tab hanging out when you rewind the film, so the next person can load it. If you happen to rewind it all the way, you can pull it out again with this handy DIY from Lomography, or buy a tool that’s made for exactly this purpose.

4. It seems to work best if you shoot in uneven lighting. I think this is because the darkest parts of an image will allow for the most detail to show through from the next frame–the brighter the first image, the less detail can come through since the second exposure might overexpose and wash out the bright areas. So, if both people shoot images that have some light and some dark areas in them, the chance the images will complement each other and both show through is a bit higher. We’re still experimenting with this, and fun accidents always happen so I don’t want to overthink things too much.

If you’ve tried it before or end up trying it in the future, I’d love to see the results!

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