Mas­ter Affin­ity Photo

Blend two images to mimic a dou­ble ex­po­sure


If you fol­lowed last month’s tu­to­rial on iso­lat­ing a photo’s sub­ject (and prac­ticed a bit), you’ll have a hand­ful of images with fine-tuned, pre­cise cut-outs, but what

can you do with them? Sub­jects against white back­grounds have their uses in pub­lish­ing, but for dig­i­tal artists they can be the first step in the cre­ation of strik­ing dig­i­tal art.

The dou­ble ex­po­sure takes its name from film: a frame of film would be ex­posed, then ex­posed again, in­stead of be­ing wound on. The re­sult: a merg­ing of the two frames, of­ten with un­pre­dictable and beau­ti­ful re­sults. In the age of dig­i­tal, merg­ing two frames is eas­ier and more con­trol­lable than ever, and with care you can pro­duce provoca­tive, fas­ci­nat­ing images that blend sub­jects, themes, places and more.

At its most ba­sic, a dig­i­tal dou­ble ex­po­sure re­quires two images. Add both to one Affin­ity Photo doc­u­ment as sep­a­rate lay­ers and re­duce the opac­ity of one of the lay­ers. The re­sult will be clut­tered and lack­ing con­trast, so we’ll get rid of your sub­ject’s back­ground and ex­per­i­ment with blend­ing two lay­ers.

The first thing to do is iso­late your sub­ject. Of­ten, the best re­sults will come if you can shoot a sub­ject against a plain white back­ground. This is of­ten im­prac­ti­cal, so use paths and se­lec­tion re­fine­ment tools to cut your sub­ject out. As you’ll see in the walk­through, creat­ing a new layer with a mask when you’ve fin­ished will give the best ef­fect.

Ex­per­i­ment with aes­thet­ics

One use­ful ap­proach is to vary which parts of your sub­ject are trans­par­ent. If a dou­ble ex­po­sure has a hu­man sub­ject, say, you’ll of­ten want your sub­ject’s face unadul­ter­ated by your back­ground layer. Cre­ate a layer mask and drag the gra­di­ent tool from the top to the bot­tom of your im­age. Make the point near­est your sub­ject’s face trans­par­ent by set­ting its opac­ity to zero, and the back­ground will gen­tly fade away, leav­ing things un­clut­tered.

Oth­er­wise, all that’s left is for you to care­fully se­lect your images. Two pic­tures that demon­strate a theme can work well, such as wildlife shots jux­ta­posed with ur­ban land­scapes, or strong por­traits of peo­ple com­bined with el­e­ments of where they live. If any dig­i­tal pho­tog­ra­phy tech­nique re­wards cre­ativ­ity and ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, it’s this one.


Lay­ers Make ex­ten­sive

use of lay­ers to ex­per­i­ment with dif­fer­ent mask types and blend­ing modes.



Creat­ing a mask al­lows you to make parts of your im­age in­vis­i­ble with­out per­ma­nently delet­ing data.



This may end up your best friend: you can undo a vast num­ber of steps, letting you roll back and cor­rect mis­takes.


Im­age choices

Use images that com­ple­ment each other. Here, the land­scape works with its ur­bandwelling sub­ject.





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