Sonja Yearsley, M.Photog., began making double-exposure images when she was in high school in the 1990s. In 2015, she was doing a portrait session with the young woman in her image “Mother Nature.” At the end of the session, Yearsley asked to take a few photos for herself, changing the background and lighting to create various silhouettes. After the session, she drove around looking for trees to photograph, experimenting with different possibilities, knowing that the time of day and the sky mattered if she didn’t want to do extra work in post-production. “It was fun to see her evolve,” she says of the portrait. “I have many versions of this particular image and many others using the same technique. I carry a card in my camera bag that is full of different silhouettes just in case I find a particular tree, flower, or background that I want to use as a double exposure.” Sonja Photography is based in Kennewick, Washington, and specializes in family portraiture, fine art, and commercial photography.
CAMERA & LENS: Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L for the first exposure, and Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L for the second exposure
EXPOSURE: 1/125 second at f/5.6, ISO 160
LIGHTING: For the first exposure silhouette, she lit the white backdrop with four lights—two on each side, one hanging from the ceiling, and the other at the subject’s height. The subject was positioned several feet in front of the lights to avoid excessive spill. The second exposure was natural light.
POST-CAPTURE: In Photoshop CS5, Yearsley used the additive option. She started with the silhouette, then paired it with the tree. She layered a backdrop from her personal collection for the colors and added a flower image for a soft background.