This Double Exposure Was Done on Film With No Photoshop

Image by Ozan Mutlu Dursun. Used with permission.

“If you can, always try to use professional grade films like Kodak Portra and Kodak Ektar,” says photographer Ozan Mutlu Dursun about how he shot the unique double exposure image leading this post off. “They are pretty good in terms of tones and grain, and if you go medium format it’s only going to get better. It is a breeze to shoot with them.” Indeed, Ozan shot this one on film.

When most photographers do double exposure photographs, they bring them into Photoshop or certain apps to blend the layers together just right. That’s how you get so many of them that are very spectacular and tend to have patterns coming out from the person. It’s all about shapes. But with this photo, it was all about using text and overlays.

Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you got into photography.

Ozan: I wanted to be designer when I was a child (and I became one, too), but my heart always lied with photography. My dad gave me my first digital camera, which was a Canon point & shoot camera with a tiny LCD screen. I learned the fundamental concepts like ISO, aperture, and exposure. I upgraded to a better point & shoot camera after one year. After realizing it also didn’t help much in terms of advancing in the field, I decided to get a DSLR (which is a 450D, and I still have it).

I got into portraits and fine art with it and I opened my first exhibition- which displayed some nude photographs with bunch of portrait shots I did with my friends. After that, the digital medium felt stale- I wasn’t enjoying myself. I was good at Photoshop & Lightroom, though I noticed I don’t enjoy taking photos and bringing them back to post-processing- it felt really artificial somehow. I also knew that I needed to know the fundamentals and the history of photography, so I decided on using film. I picked up a Zeiss Ikon medium format camera at a nearby local antique shop, and I am using analogue cameras (16 of them, to be exact- I do love to pick up certain cameras which have a place in history) since then. It’s been five years, and I still shoot film.

Phoblographer: What made you want to get into portraiture?

Ozan: I love emotions, and especially meeting with new people. I make new friends (though, pretty much being females most of the time) and ask them to do modeling for me. I love portraiture, and I feel that this main concept is needed for an eye-catching photograph. It could also be a distracting thing to look at, so it is hard to produce a good looking portrait.

“I was good at Photoshop & Lightroom, though I noticed I don’t enjoy taking photos and bringing them back to post-processing- it felt really artificial somehow. I also knew that I needed to know the fundamentals and the history of photography, so I decided to went using film.”

Phoblographer: What you did here is a completely different type of double exposure that looks pretty naturally photoshopped. Except it isn’t. How did you do it? Where did the concept and idea come from?

Ozan: So there was a concept hotel nearby that I didn’t know a thing about. A friend told me about it, and after seeing the neons and walls in rooms, I asked the manager politely and got permission. The concept was to expose the model only in neon light. I haven’t tried that before, so I was a bit nervous since film does not behave well in artifical lighting. I wanted to create a scene which refers to boudoir photography, while keeping things fresh and new.

We shot pretty much 33-34 frames of the film with the bodysuit you see in the series, and for final few frames I wanted to try something different. I framed the model where you really can’t see her face except for her nose and lips, and took a shot. I used a fill flash to slightly lighten up her skin, while maintaining the overall lighting in the area. After that, I took a shot of the wall, where the neon sign was mounted. I think I used 1/500 or 1/1000 exposure setting (I was using 1/30 and 1/125 at F 1.4 before), so that the wall is almost black, while exposing the neon letters perfectly since they are really bright when you face them. I wasn’t sure if it was going to work or not, and I kind of broke my camera’s aperture priority setting for this- so I was hoping to get something good out of it.

Well, you can see the results, and it totally blew my mind away.

Pro tip here; if you can, always try to use professional grade films like Kodak Portra and Kodak Ektar. They are pretty good in terms of tones and grain- and if you go medium format, it’s only going to get better. It is a breeze to shoot with them. I found that the most of the cheaper films tend to turn bad when you try something like this (but there are also quality cheaper films like Fuji Superia and Agfa Vista).

Phoblographer: Have you tried to mimic this method again with any luck?

Ozan: I haven’t, not yet. Though I might do an exclusive series aiming at this concept.