Experimenting with In-Camera Double Exposure

A couple of weeks ago I read an article by Sarah K Byrne Photography about in-camera double exposure. According to her blog:

Double exposure is a technique that originated with film photography where you would expose the same frame of film twice (or more). Film can only be exposed to light so much before it will stop recording information. So the part of the film that was darker after first exposure will be most receptive to the light from the second click.

I thought her photos were beautiful, and David and I made a few attempts in our apartment with our Nikon D5100. The lighting was never really great and the results just looked like two layered photos with lowered opacities. It was a super sunny on our day off last month and we decided to give it another try.


Double exposure with lilacs. I did make color adjustments in Photoshop.


Double exposure with pine


Double exposure with flowers


Double exposure with flowers


Our camera doesn’t have all of the options the photographer talked about in her video tutorial, but it is still a fun tool to experiment with.

The basic steps for multiple exposure with a Nikon 5100:

  1. Set your camera to either the M, A, S, or P setting.
  2. Hit the Menu button.
  3. Under the Shooting Menu, turn Multiple Exposure to ON. We suggest starting off with 2 shots. We left the Gain ON, but you can play around with this, too. (The manual says: “Gain ON is adjusted according to number of exposures actually recorded. Gain OFF is not adjusted when recording multiple exposure. Recommended if background is dark.”)
  4. Frame and take your first photo.
  5. You have 30 seconds to take your second photo (otherwise, the camera will automatically take the next shot). The camera will then merge the two photos!

A few notes about using a Nikon 5100 for multiple exposure:

  • You must be in M, A, S, or P in order to use the double exposure menu.
  • Live view does not work with our model.
  • We found the double exposure worked best when the first picture was a sharp silhouette against a blown-out, solid background.
  • More detailed instructions can be found in the manual.

Hopefully we can have some more fun with in-camera double exposure. I’d love to try it with the fall colors in Michigan sometime!


How to create in-camera double exposure on a Nikon 5100


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  • Reply Amanda

    Those pictures are beautiful! I have the same camera and am trying to figure out how to do double exposure, could you email me the steps you did? [email protected] 🙂

    January 18, 2014 at 11:00 pm
  • Reply surya teja

    each time I try I actually get the worse pic possible.…could u give me the steps and settings in detail …my email id is [email protected]

    November 26, 2014 at 3:47 pm
  • Reply Justin Smith

    Thank you so much for posting this! I had no idea my 5100 could do this! I’m crazy excited to play with it now.

    August 10, 2016 at 12:16 pm
  • Reply WE35 - Double Exposure - Island in the Net


    March 28, 2017 at 7:06 pm
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