In 1999, for their first exhibition at Matthew Marks Gallery in Chelsea, Swiss artists Peter Fischli (1952) and David Weiss (1946-2012) collaborated on a series of more than one hundred double exposure images of plants. It is reported by the Guggenhiem that “one would shoot an entire roll of film in a suburban rose garden; the other would rewind it and then shoot the same roll in a park in Zurich.” What they achieved is seemingly so simple and everyday, yet trying to replicate the style and beauty of these hallucinatory chromatic plant compositions is far from easy.
Untitled (Flowers), 1997–98 © Guggenheim
Double exposure is nothing new in photography, having been around since the beginning of film cameras. Using the same technique as Fischli and Wiess, simply rewind the film after taking a shot and then take it again. It’s slightly harder with digital technology as you need to employ Photoshop. But once mastered you can have greater control of the mix and outcome. There are many tutorials on Youtube for this technique, most of which offer more complicated instructions than are needed to create double exposure in its simplest form – one whole image over another whole image.
Create double exposure images in Photoshop in 5 easy steps:
- Open two photographs the same size in Photoshop
- Choose one image, go to Layer menu and select ‘New’.. ‘Layer’
- Drag the second image on to the new layer.
- Decide which image you want on top by moving it in the Layers panel.
- Set the ‘Opacity’ (transparency) of your top layer to 50%
Now you will see the double exposure. You can play around with the opacity and layer order until you are happy with the results. This is the basic method, knowing more about Photoshop, Filter and Adjustment layers will enable you to experiment much more.
Photoshop window showing two images on two layers, with the top layer set to 50% Opacity
Plant Curator achieved the following by crossing a field of bluebells with a conifer branch.