In View: Multiple Exposure In-Camera Photography with Kristen Westlake, Fine Artist

May 11, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

In View: by Annette (Schrab) Clark


In-Camera Multiple Exposure with

Kristen Westlake, Fine Art Photographer


"Multiple exposure photography is multiple knowing photography as well." ~Kristen Westlake



Month May 11, 2013Leave a Comment


Watching my friend, Kristen Westlake carefully set up for an in-camera multiple-exposure, I wondered how it compared with layered images done in photoshop.


Curious, I took to Google and one blog stood out. It claimed to show the "dubbed the masters of multiple exposure photography." Of course the blog is dated 2011, but I was still anxious to see these masterpieces. This blog in "My Modern Met" is at this link:


There are some interesting images, to be sure. However, as an overall collection, I was disappointed. These, after all, were dubbed "the masters." The first is lovely at first sight, although the woman stands out harsh. Most are exactly that: one layer over another which actually look to me like photoshop-layered photos, or those which slap an environment landscape on a person-where it really doesn't seem to belong. They are certainly not bad. Some are quite interesting. However, they look to me like something that is photoshopped.


The article also doesn't mention the term "in-camera." This suggests to me that they very well could be RAW image files layered in photoshop. These could be argued as "true" multiple exposures because they would be RAW files layered rather than a "snapshot" format file.


However, when comparing to Kristen Westlake's in-camera mulitple-exposure art on canvas and within her online galleries, I see that hers offer an incredible clarity that the other "multiple exposure photography" can hardly compete with.


A conversation ensued between Kristen and me via a string of discussion in-person and internet chats, and via emails. Therefore, I've included a Question and Answer article below with the information I gathered through our discussion. (See the non-all-inclusive slide show images below) (Also, see Kristen's own blog on multiple exposures in-camera: (Also, more from Annette (Schrab) Clark on Kristen Westlake, Fine Art Photographer at


View: In-Camera Multiple Exposure with Kristen Westlake, Fine Art Photographer


Annette Q: Isn't the "deer-and-headlights" image (shown above) a long exposure rather than a multiple exposure? After all, the streaking light suggests a long exposure.


Kristen answer:

Hi Annette,

Actually the deer in headlights is BOTH a double exposure and a long exposure. The moon was the first exposure and it was fast .. the second was a 30 second exposure to capture the movement of the headlights. The long exposure was testament to how still the deer stood! If he had moved he would either be blurry or not even in the picture at all!


Q: Why in-camera versus photoshop (I would assume the answer would include a crisp clarity and intermingling of the images that are very difficult or impossible to match in photoshop. Also, I assume as you


Kristen: Because its so challenging. I appreciate what people do with multiples in photoshop but its much more limited and tougher to do in camera, which is why I do it. Whites and light colors are always dominant in multiples and darks allow other subjects and colors to be placed on top. One has to know this while creating in camera. It's also imperative to know exposure like the back of your hand while simultaneously knowing how to expose for multiples, know which subjects you want to be dominant, and exposure accordingly.


Multiple exposure photography is multiple knowing photography as well... the process of it has made my "normal" photography better and my understanding of exposure much greater. Much of what you can do in camera cannot be replicated well within photoshop, however more can be done in photoshop than can be done in camera. I just like the organic"ness" of doing it in camera and having to use my imagination to figure out how to produce my concept in camera versus after the fact in post production. I do use photoshop for dodging, burning, cropping .. things I can't do in camera. But anything I can do in camera I will .. :)


Q: How large can you print a multi-exposure? Do you do this on your signature choice of format on unframed giclee on stretched canvas?



All of my images are produced as limited edition giclees on canvas. The print sizes are the same with multiple exposures as with any. It would seem that the file size would be larger because of "multiple" but it isn't. It's still a single exposure but made up of many moments in time.


Q: Now this is other than multi-exposure, but with the canvas wrap, do you extend your image on the edge of the canvas as it wraps on the frame, or is your image only on the flat surface with a white or black wrapped edge. Why or why not do you choose the format within this display as you do?



The image wraps around the sides of the gallery wrap .. but the image edges are mirrored and then flipped to create the look so that none of the actual image is lost to the sides of the gallery wrap. Because images are created with intention it would be detrimental to have any of the actual image lost to the sides.


Q: Could describe your in-camera multi-exposures, as to the inspiration to create them in-camera and beyond your single-image photography? What "tools" and "skills" are required to create a successful image (both camera tools and visualizing and setting up each shot to crop properly and to meld with the other images as you foresee?)



Multiple exposure photography is another tool to be used to "capture" a concept or an idea of the imagination and /or the scene in front of me in the way that I see it. Same as tilt lenses, black and white, depth of field and shutter speed all work to create the scene the way I see it, multiple exposure works that way too. I like it particularly because my scenarios aren't duplicatable, they are truly unique. Even I cannot replicate the same scene.

Tools and skills: .. a camera that has multiple exposure settings in the menu. Most Nikon SLRs have it. Skills: To really master multiple exposure photography and create what it is that you want to say (versus "snapshot" multiples) one must first master the essentials of exposure in photography. Multiple exposure requires knowledge of exposing properly for multiples on top of exposing for each exposure within the multiple.. exposures become compound. - Just an aside, each exposure within a multiple lightens. So if you expose for a double exposure as if you were exposing each for a single exposure your final image will be overexposed.


Q: Many multi exposures I see are people and landscape melded together. You have these but in more interesting composition: the images of you and dancing within the leaf, within nature, you choose an outline of yourself rather than a more portrait type photo of you. Why and HOW do you do this? To show an outline of yourself versus your full image? It seems it must be photoshopped, yet they have such clarity they must be done in-camera.



They are done in camera. I held the leaf to the bright sky to get the leaf to be a semi silhouette. Remember, darker areas take color over then and light areas are dominant. Therefore my own image made in a "normal situation" will "ride" on top of the darker area of the leaf.


Q: You have egrets in multi-exposure. I've not seen this done before. It combines birding photography with art. What is your inspiration here and are there challenges doing multi exposures with birds versus landscapes or a person posed?


The egrets are very slow moving when they are looking for food. My inspiration was to show a solitary egret (the black and white) and a group of egrets (the color one) in motion. A single image would show a solitary egret with no motion .. though a long exposure could produce movement in a different way. Multiple exposures vary so much in their challenges. Almost all situations call for foresight. You get better at "figuring out" how the more you do it. A lot of trial and error is required! And a lot of "thinking" while not photographing too. I have some of my best thoughts on this stuff when I'm running in the woods. My challenge then is to remember the "logs" I've thought about when I'm done running!


Q: My personal favorite is the floral mulitple exposure. Can you tell me a bit more about it?



Thank you. Yes, its a combination of zooming and turning within the multiple. I believe I did a series of four images, turning my body or my camera and then another series of four zoomed out .. and then at the end I went to a different area of the meadow and carefully exposed the yellow flower where I "thought" the middle of the image would be. You have to see with your mind's eye because you can't see it in reality until the process is complete. .. but it worked!



THANK YOU Kristen Westlake, for this opportunity to discuss you vision, your insight, and toward the images you've created via your in-camera multiple exposure work.


See the slideshow below for just a few of Kristen's In-Camera Multiple Exposures, and visit her own Galleries of images including double-exposure, multiple, and single image photography online:

With thanks to Andrea Carri, Italian Pianist/Composer for permission to use his song "Hearts and Souls" as the music track: He has recently released a third CD.

Find out more at his web site:

see Kristen's Galleries at: