Create Beautiful Surreal Photographs by Stacking Your Film Negatives

We’ve shared a number of examples of surreal images created using multiple exposure techniques or by combining images using Photoshop, but did you know that you can also create beautiful images by stacking actual film negatives? Photographer Laina Briedis did some experiments with 35mm film stacking, and achieved some stunning results. She combined photos of stars and sky with pictures of people, creating images that look like they were plucked from someone’s dreams.

Here’s what she tells us about negative stacking:

There are a few ways to stack negatives to create interesting multiple exposure-like images. If you have a darkroom available for use, you can expose two negative/negative strips at the same time on the same enlarger (by stacking the negatives one on top of another), and with a bit of dodging/burning you should be set.

For a similar effect using a slightly different darkroom approach, you can also expose the two negatives/negative strips separately onto the same piece of light sensitive darkroom paper. If you prefer a digital approach or don’t have a darkroom at your disposal, you can stack two negative strips one of top of another and using a flatbed negative scanner achieve some pretty cool negative-stacked exposures.

If you’re good with Photoshop and would like even more control over which parts of your photographs are more prominent, you can even use two individually scanned negatives as separate layers. By erasing parts of one image, you allow the other image to show through more (creating a stacked-negative look). This I suppose would be like the digital equivalent of dodging and burning.

The best part about this technique is that you can do it all you want with old film photos, so pull out your archives and start stacking!

Image credits: Photographs by Laina Briedis and used with permission