Light Patterns (Multiple Exposure Photography)

One of the photographic techniques that we explored at the club meeting in November, was to create light patterns, which you can then blend together if you wish either using multiple exposure in the camera, or combining exposures in software.

To create light patterns like these, you need a few cheap and easy to make props.

The first image above was created with the aid of a torch (one with a single bulb rather than multi LED lamps works best). You need to be in a location that can be made dark, so any suitable room at home in the evening is fine.

First, attach a length of string to the end of the torch and hang the torch (light down) so it is at least a metre off the floor. You will be swinging the torch in the dark during the exposure, so make sure that there is sufficient room to do this without damaging any family heirlooms!

Having got your torch in place, you now need to set your camera as follows.

Pre-focus the camera by holding it alongside the torch and pointing at the floor, lightly press the shutter button until you hear it focus lock, then switch the lens from auto to manual focus (AF to MF on the side of the lens.

Now set the camera to Manual mode. Set aperture to f8, shutter speed to 10 seconds and ISO to 100 and set your timer to a 2 second delay.

Place the camera on the floor directly under the torch pointing up. Switch off the lights, fire the camera and swing the torch.

Check your picture, if you can see the ceiling in the picture, try reducing the aperture to (say) f11 or f16 until you can see the pattern described by the torch, but the background is black. If the torch was still swinging away merrily after the picture had been taken, increase the exposure time about 5 secs and try again. You will find you need to keep adjusting these two settings until you find the right combination for your conditions.

Once you have your exposure right, keep your settings the same and take several pictures obtaining different colours simply by putting a coloured paper or cloth over the torch. You can blend the pictures together in Photoshop or similar software to get a picture like the second image above.

If you have the luxury of a camera that can take multiple exposures, you can use that to create blended images in-camera. I’m afraid you will have to check your camera manual for that as all makes and types operate differently, but if you have the capability, it will probably be listed somewhere in your camera menu pages.

Another technique which allow you to create images such as these :

is to use some cheap battery powered LED fairy lights (got mine from the pound shop). You can get them in different colours and either attach them to a stick and twirl it around (like a baton), as in the first image, or simply jiggle them in front of the camera, as in the second image. Again, you can blend multiple images in software or camera if you wish.

It’s amazing what creative images you can create with just a few simple props.


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