Double Exposure

Is there any way to take two exposures, perhaps of fireworks which is the reason I’m asking this, and combine them together as a “double exposure” (or more)? (Last night being New Year’s Eve, was a good time to take photos - of 100 or so photos four look decent. I’d like to combine some of the images into one picture.)

All photos were taken on a tripod, with cable release. The camera didn’t move, meaning the background in all my photos should look the same - so a double exposure shouldn’t hurt with that, but I would be able to include more bursts of fireworks into a single frame/

Is ths possible?

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I don’t think you can combine images within PL. Anytime I’ve done that sort of thing I’ve used a pixel editor, like Photoshop or Affinity Photo, wherein it’s simply a matter of adding each image as a new layer.


Yes, you will need an editor supporting layers, such as Stuck mentioned.

Try Microsoft ICE. I think that can do it.


Not on a Mac.

It’s a shame you didn’t ask before, because the D750 will combine up to 3 shots in camera. :crazy_face:

I took around 100 images I think, and out of all that only 4 are left that I sort of like - and none of those is all that good. I know about double exposure (didn’t know it could do triple exposure!!), but the odds of getting two good shots one after another weren’t very high. I do have Photoshop still, and I have my old Affinity Photo, so maybe that’s what I’ll use. Microsoft ICE sounds fascinating, but as you pointed out, not for me. Yeah, I guess “layers” is the appropriate tool. I’ll look around again, but I didn’t have much choice an hour ago. Then there’s Photomatix - who knows what it would do!

Microsoft ICE sounds fascinating

It is but it is a panorama stitching application so I doubt it would combine your images. The static background does mean your images do overlap but the fireworks themselves will have nothing in common / have no overlap so I suspect ICE would not be able to combine the pictures.

If you can share at least two of your pictures as simple JPEGs I’m happy to download them and see what ICE makes of them.


Thanks for the offer, but it turns out this is a dead-end street. Those 100 photos or so were taken over a span of maybe ten minutes. I was able to combine the images using Photomatix, which also aligns the images - BUT - during that ten minutes all the boats in the water in front of Miami moved considerably.

It’s too light in my room to effectively use PL4 until this evening at the earliest, so I did what I could on my iMac which is bright enough for me to see what I’m doing. Here’s the best I could do with the four images I thought I liked, but it is nothing like what I hoped for… It is not really calibrated, or adjusted, or anything - the only thing it’s good for is to tell me combining images is not a good idea. I’m only posting this to show why it is not good.

This is what one image looks like, no cropping, only adjusting the brightness so the buildings can be seen. At least it’s a real picture. Maybe tonight I will work on it.

_MJM2412 | 2021-01-01-New Year Fireworks.nef (17.5 MB)

Consider this idea.

In Photoshop / Affinity Photo, select one of the images as your ‘base’ image, Then in each of the other good images crop off the boats. Then add each of the crops, as a new layer, to the base image.


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Excellent idea - if I work more on this image, I’ll try that.

Picasa will do the job:

The collage function has a multiple exposure option that allows files to be overlaid.

It starts like this:

And finally, looks like this. No adjustments, no moving layers, but it might be what you want and it’s free.

Canon Digital Photo Pro has a compositing function that allows layers to be moved and rescaled.

Old? If you have any version of it, you have the latest, as they are still on the 1.x series. It would be the perfect tool for layering and masking and blending.

Specifically, take one image as your base image as @stuck suggested, then add one additional photo on a new layer on top. Turn off the base layer image and add an empty mask to the additive image. Select the mask and paint on it with a black brush to “erase” everything you don’t want, probably just leaving one or more fireworks with a little black around them. Using a mask like this (instead of the eraser) means you can paint the image back in (use a white brush) if you over-do things. Then turn the base photo back on and play with the blend mode of the additive layer until you get something that works. I’m thinking Screen is one to try, as it often works to add light coloured information to dark, but try them all. If necessary you can just use the Normal blend mode which literally just lays the whole thing, black included, on top. A feathered brush on the layer mask may help in this case to get rid of any harsh edges if the colour of the night sky changes slightly from shot to shot.

Once you’ve got one added, repeat with additional photos.

I just checked, I’ve got version 1.8.6 - I updated it a while ago. I bought it originally because I couldn’t afford Photoshop. I never really got used to using it. For various reasons, I’ve got lots of editors, some of them, like Capture One, so I can help a friend of mine in India. We both got the free Fuji version, but I’m going to help him switch to Darktable instead.

One of my problems is that when I have too many of something, it prevents me from being my best with just one of them. I guess this applies to cameras too. (And when it comes to cameras, I still have my Leica M3 with a collapsible 50mm Summicron - here’s what it is capable of in the hands of Ken Rockwell:
Why am I messing with digital complexity, when I could do this?). But back to reality, I am struggling to whenever possible ONLY use PL4, until I know it inside and out. Now that I have had all the help from all of you, I am half way through watching this for the third or fourth time - like a refresher course:

Anyway, the fireworks stuff is just a distraction I guess. The show was terrible compared to what they used to do, and my photos are no good, and I’ve given up on the idea of double exposure to make them better. I think Affinity Photo would do a better job than Photomatix, and if I have some free time, I will try what you guys are suggesting, just for the sake of learning it. I haven’t dumped my Photoshop and Lightroom yet either - that’s coming. I have decided that for me, PL4 is a better choice.

I think I’ve learned more in this forum, than in all the other forums I’ve been involved in combined. I think that’s because everyone here seems to have a PHD in Photo, way above my head, so it’s a learning curve as much as anything else - and it’s also enjoyable to be here. This place feels more like a “clubhouse” than a forum.

If tomorrow is a nice day, I hope to go for a walk and find something new to photograph, while still avoiding other people.

Yes, I have learned a lot too, and I don’t think it’s because everyone is at PhD level, rather a committed bunch who love PhotoLab and want the best for their own photos, so learn and then teach when they/we can. And we do have the occasional clubhouse disagreement. :grin:

FWIW, Affinity Photo long ago replaced Photoshop for me, largely because most of it works the same way, essentially. The process I mentioned above I learned on Photoshop but transferred easily to AP. There are plenty of good videos on using it on Serif’s site. But it is one of those tools you need to use for your own purposes to learn. So yes, give the fireworks stuff a go. If you go into it not expecting greatness, maybe you will get a pleasant surprise!

And the OM-D EM-1 mk III (in Live Composite mode) will let you combine as many shots as you like, whilst watching the result build-up on the monitor. :crazy_face:

John M

Same for me , i tried a lot of softwares, inluding Darktable. Some interesting functionalities such as making selection of tones to apply a filter (for instance apply blur in dark areas only), but to my taste, too complicated to do simple things and way too long for me. It is for tech passionates. PL has taken some of their UI recently.
Affinity quite simple to use for most common cases: quick retouch, hdr (way better than HDR by dxo), focus stacking, multiple exposition (try it for fireworks, modify the median by default stack mode, if you used a tripod, don’t remember which mode displays all the differences between shots, maybe “maximum”?, of course you can put masks on the boats). Got better results for portrait compared to PL. Sharpening needs some experience to have equivalent PL results. And as said before , up to now free upgrade and unlimited installations. Capture one has great masks possibilities ( i wish PL could offer same for local adjustments) and subtle settings. So all in all i use PL to go fast, to make B&W, or if i use high iso (less than 5% of my shots) and other softwares to refine.
A long animated debate : should PL offers more functionalities…let’s wait and see october 2021 release…

There is a problem with that method. If I’m shooting consecutive perfect shots, and I can combine them using this technique, that’s one thing. For the fireworks though, with the camera mounted on a tripod and using a cable release, out of the 100 or so shots I took during the fireworks show, most were “duds”, with the fireworks not showing up very well because the weren’t all that attractive. If I were to be combining shots this way, the chances of getting multiple “good” photos captured on the single frame were minimal. If one shot was perfect, and the second didn’t look very good, the second shot would ruin that picture no matter how good the first shot was. And the idea of building up many photos into one exposure… not very high. Much of this is my “fault”, as I tried different exposure times, and a one or two second exposure sometimes worked nicely. Maybe I should use a shorter exposure, taken at the exact moment the fireworks looked the best? Perhaps if I captured the images better, your idea of combining them might have worked.

Next time this happens, I’ll do as you suggested, and use the D750 configured for multiple exposures on one frame. That, and read up on what exposures might be better than what I was doing. (Two years ago, I got one perfect image out of again, maybe 100 attempts. I deleted the 99 I didn’t like, and kept the one that I liked, which made the whole project a success. They also had more “colorful” fireworks, and fewer “explosion” fireworks, which I felt ruined the photo. I wanted color, and long streaks…)

It sounds to me like you take a group of photos, and then select the most appropriate editor based on how well they perform on different applications? You’ve mentioned Darktable, Affinity, and Capture One. Then there’s also Photoshop, Raw Therapee, and more.

Can I ask a question phrased for this forum? Since we are mostly talking about PL4 here, and since my objective has been to learn just one editor well enough to do what I need, under what conditions would you select a different editor for specific images? What types of images should we maybe use a different editor rather than PL4 ?

(I have to admit, that’s a new way of thinking about this for me. I’ve mostly been thinking that once I captured an image, I should pick “the best” and use it for everything. Partly because of Deep Prime, I have been thinking PL4 actually is “the best”. Maybe, just like there is no single “best” camera, there is no single “best” image editor?)