Seeing Double - A Guide to Using instax's Double Exposure Mode

Professional wedding and lifestyle photographer Antony Hands is an avid instax user. In this article he shares his tips on how to use the Double Exposure mode on your instax camera.

By Antony Hands

Double exposure photography is a fun and exciting way to express your creativity with photography. By taking two separate exposures and combining them onto one frame we can make surreal or different images that are interesting and memorable. We have an innate desire to identify what we are seeing, and double exposures intrigue the viewer, as the mind tries to recognise the aspects of the image. Double exposures can also help break the realism of photography into a more abstract form of art.

Fujifilm currently offers three instax cameras which feature a double exposure mode; the mini 90, the SQ6 and the SQ20 hybrid instant camera. This guide is to help you learn how you can use them to create unique double exposure prints!
You can divide double exposures into three basic types - silhouette exposures, overlay exposures, and split exposures. Examples of the different types are shown below.

Double Exposure Set 1

First of all it is important to understand how a double exposure works. When taking an image, the film is unexposed until light hits the film. When we take a double exposure, we are letting two separate images hit the film, combining their effects. Traditional analogue double exposures use an additive process, where the exposures are both added together. This means that the second image will only be visible in darker areas that were not fully exposed to white in the first shot. This is really suited to the silhouette style of image shown above, where the second image is only visible in the area that was dark from the first shot. See the combined images below:

Double Exposure Set 2

Silhouette Images

My tips for silhouette style double exposure images:

  1. Plan your finished image before taking the first shot.
  2. Have your silhouette subject appear dark by ensuring that the camera flash is disabled, and the background is white or very bright.
  3. Shoot close! Have your subject fill the frame.
  4. Choose a second shot that will complement the first, perhaps reflecting the personality of the subject. Abstract or landscape images work really well as your layer image.
  5. Make sure you frame the second image in a way that will work with the first image taken.

Double Exposure Set 3

Overlay Images

The SQ20 digital hybrid instax camera uses a different method for combining the images, with an averaging process, where the ‘average’ of both exposures is used to create the final image. This is because the photo is taken digitally, before it’s printed. As a result the second image will be visible across the frame. This is especially suited to overlay style images, such as the example below.

Double Exposure

Of course you can produce overlay images with the SQ6 and mini 90 as well, but being able to see your base image as you compose your second shot on the LCD of the SQ20 really helps when it comes to positioning the subjects in the frame! Here are some more overlay examples taken using the SQ20:

Double Exposure Set 4

Split Images

For split images you need to block a portion of the lens to ensure that light only hits part of the film. I use black washi tape, but any black tape will do. Cover half of the lens but remember not to cover the metering sensor (see below). Take the first image and then cover the other half of the lens before shooting the second image. This is only really practical on the mini 90 and SQ6, due to the smaller size of the SQ20 lens opening.

You can make some really creative images using this method, like having two images of one person in the frame!

Double Exposure mini 90

Here are some more split image double exposures to give you some inspiration: Double Exposure Set 5

Things to remember! Your camera has an auto-off feature to save battery life – on the SQ6 and mini 90 it is 5 minutes. Make sure you take your second image within this time because if the camera turns off it will eject your film. If you are approaching 5 minutes, keep the camera awake by turning the flash on and off again – this will restart the timer. On the SQ20 you can disable the auto off feature in the menu.

Double exposures are a unique and creative way to tell a story, why not get your creativity flowing and give them a try?!