As a Nikon shooter I’ve long had the built-in ability to create multiple exposures on a single file. It’s a fun option I’ve used from time to time - to shake the doldrums or add a random element to a shoot - but it’s never been something I’ve relied on or cared much about.
The word random is key here: when I enter multiple exposure mode on my old D300 I never see the results until all the shots are done. I need to visualize the final image and gauge the settings for each frame accordingly. So it’s hit or miss. But when the stars align and the end result works, it can be pretty cool. And you never know: one of these ended up on an album cover.
I knew the X-Pro1 had a multiple exposure mode and I’d assumed it would be more of the same.
First off: it’s actually double exposure - you can’t combine more than two shots on a frame. Secondly, we’re not in Kansas anymore. Instead of working blind, the X-Pro1’s multiple exposure mode holds your hand the whole way through: you get to redo individual shots without interrupting the process (as many times as you like until you accept a take) and… you SEE the first frame overlaid in the EVF as you prepare the second exposure. This is very cool and it took me completely by surprise.
This ability to view the overlaid image allows us to compose the second shot accordingly, taking this feature from a novelty to… Well, almost a bona fide tool. Yes, it can be gimmicky and yes, the same thing can easily be achieved in post-production 101 but… There’s something exhilarating about creating a multiple exposure shot in the field, reacting to the moment and using your immediate surroundings. You’re not adding ready-made textures from a stock collection while sitting in front of your computer, drinking coffee. You’re living the shot, building it on the spot - for better or worse. It’s a great dynamic and I have to admit I’ve been having a ball with this feature, 70’s clichés be damned.
The images are blended at what appears to be 50/50 opacity, but you can of course influence the visual ratio by varying the exposure and focus on each individual frame. I tend to look for textures or shapes and use manual focus to dial in the appropriate level of detail - this is a perfect time to go crazy with bokeh (I know, that word) or flaring.
Multiple Exposure can be assigned to the Fn button and while this is obviously not something you’d want living there permanently, in the right context it can be a quick way to jump between normal stills and double exposures without interrupting the flow of a shoot. It’s certainly something I’ll be exploring further.
I’ve already posted a couple of pictures using this technique in some of my previous X-Pro1 posts. Below are a few more examples. And just in case you’re wondering: no, I was not in any sort of drunken stupor while shooting any of these… ;)
P.S. As I was writing this post I noticed Jeremy Cowarts’ road trip series in which he’s also playing with this X-Pro1 option. Some really great images to see there, as always.