Let it glow

Light paint­ing needn’t in­volve pricey kit or al­ways look the same. James Pater­son puts a fun new twist on this pop­u­lar tech­nique by tak­ing some plas­tic cups and torches down to the river

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Dou­ble the fun of light paint­ing by in­clud­ing re­flec­tions in your im­ages

Ever since pi­o­neer­ing pho­tog­ra­pher Ge­orges De­meny at­tached light bulbs to an as­sis­tant and told him to jump, back in 1889, pho­tog­ra­phers have been ‘paint­ing’ with light. So it’s time for a fresh ap­proach to the pop­u­lar tech­nique – why not use re­flec­tive sur­faces to en­hance the ef­fect? Whether you use wa­ter, glass, mir­rors or even Pho­to­shop im­age-flip­ping, a lit­tle re­flected symmetry can take amaz­ing light-painted pat­terns to a whole new level.

If you’re new to light paint­ing, you’re in for a treat. Less chal­leng­ing than wire wool spin­ning (as fea­tured in last is­sue’s Your

Sto­ries, page 64), it shows how ex­cit­ing pho­tog­ra­phy can be when you ex­per­i­ment with your ex­po­sure. A light paint­ing is made by mov­ing a light source through a dark scene while the cam­era’s shut­ter is locked open. The light builds through the ex­po­sure, so your torch acts like chalk on a black­board.

You can do this out­side at night or in a dark room. Once you get the ba­sics right, en­joy ex­per­i­ment­ing with dif­fer­ent light sources and moves to cre­ate won­der­ful pat­terns.

The mis­sion

To learn to paint with light and en­hance the ef­fect with re­flec­tions


One hour

Skill level

Begin­ner In­ter­me­di­ate Ad­vanced

Kit needed

Nikon D-SLR Tri­pod Re­mote shut­ter re­lease Torches Coloured plas­tic cups

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