STEP BY STEP / Achieve a light leak effect
1 Safety first At the worry of sounding like a risk assessment, you need to make yourself safe. We brought a bucket of water to extinguish matches (and to use in case we dropped them on the floor). We also prepared a damp towel to deal with any accidental burns. 2 Experiment with focal length We found that a 50mm f/1.4 lens was perfect to frame a portrait nicely while simultaneously compressing the perspective enough to blur close-up foreground elements considerably. The wider the lens, the less perspective compression occurs. 3 Inside with window light We shot this light leak portrait inside so that the ambient light was inherently darker than if we were shooting outside. Window light has a beautiful quality, with soft shadows and smooth highlights that wrap around your subject. 4 Settings In Manual mode we set our ISO to 400 for the lower light levels inside. Our aperture was f/2 to blur the fire sufficiently when held in front of the lens, and our shutter speed was 1/500 sec, which was fast enough to keep the image sharp as we were shooting handheld. 5 Matches/lighter We recommend using long cook’s matches or a longnecked lighter to take these shots. It’ll give you a longer burn time before either the match scorches your fingers or the lighter warms up so much it burns your skin! Both are available cheaply from homeware shops. 6 Placement We didn’t want to melt the lens, but we had to hold the match close enough to the front element in order for the fire to blur. If your motor skills aren’t quite as finely tuned as they could be, then use a lens hood to force the fire away from the glass.