Tips for Taking a Double Exposure on a Contax 645

April 9, 2020

Receiving your film scans back from the lab always feels like a surprise and a dose of happiness. What makes film scans even more exciting? To see if your double exposure was a success or a total flop! When we have a little more time during any given shoot, we try to push ourselves to shoot a double exposure. Sometimes we love the result – but more often than not, the result isn’t perfect. Regardless, it is always a fun experiment! Here are some tips for taking a double exposure on a Contax 645.

On the Contax 645, right below the ISO dial, there is a lever/switch. When you’re ready to take your double exposure, press the button “in” the switch, and flip the switch down. When you see the red dot, you’ll know that the film will not advance after you take your next photo. Take the first photo of your double exposure. Be sure to switch this back off before you take your next shot!

Contax 645 in double exposure mode

Here is the Contax 645 ready to take the first shot in a double exposure (this lever prevents the film from advancing forward)

When you’re exposing your film, I always underexpose by one stop. For example, if my meter is telling me to shoot at 1/250, I’ll adjust my shutter speed to 1/500 for both photos. That way, when I take two photos on the same negative, it will be exposed properly (1/500 + 1/500 = 2/500 = 1/250 … which is the meter reading).

Double exposures retain the most information in the darkest sections of the frame – so they work particularly well if your couple is wearing darker attire.

To get the silhouette effect, you’ll want the subject to be against a white background – either the sky or a blank, neutral wall.

Be mindful of your composition. Try to remember how you framed the photo so that a flower will be in a “good spot” in the frame rather than an awkward one. Or, if you’re overlaying a mountain range, try to make sure that it doesn’t cut through the subject’s head.

These aren’t easy – but they are fun! Embrace your mistakes and enjoy the result!

Double exposure with lavender on Contax 645

My all time favorite double exposure – and Thomas shot this one!! Love how defined the lavender is in the groom’s suit jacket.

Double exposure with bride and calligraphy on a Contax 645

Another favorite – the use of calligraphy over the bride’s silhouette – stunning!

Tips for photographing a double exposure on a Contax 645

For this one, I really wanted the “white background” so I shot a bit below the couple so that they would be more silhouetted.

Engagement session at gold creek pond

I wish I had framed this slightly differently so the mountain didn’t cut through the groom’s head – but live and learn!

Double exposure on contax 645

One of my favorite double exposures that was an accident! I accidentally swapped the position of my camera, so the images are upside down (their head is in the water and their bodies are in the trees). Happy accidents are the best!

This one is pretty underwhelming. The background of this scene was so busy and there wasn’t enough “dark” sections of this image for the bride to pop.

Double exposure with bougonvilla on a Contax 645 Double exposure with couple in Iceland on a Contax 645 tips for photographing a double exposure on a Contax 645 photographing a double exposure on a contax 645 double exposure with bouquet by Gather Design Company SF City Hall elopement double exposure in Seattle with lily pads double exposure with texture from dress Double exposure with florals from wedding at elliston vineyards

Do you have any questions for taking a double exposure on a Contax 645? Send me a message! 



We are a husband and wife Bay area wedding photography team. We strive to capture joyful moments. We use film and digital cameras to capture your wedding with a timeless, fine art approach.