Do you like scary movies? If so, here’s a light painting tutorial for you just in time for Hallowe’en, by Jason Page. You might want to sleep with the lights on after watching this!
Jason shows us a handmade mask (well really it’s kind of a severed head but we won’t go there) that was created especially for him by Annie Jones. It’s sort of terrifying, albeit not half as creepy as some of the others on her Instagram page. But you don’t need an artisanal murderous scarecrow for this tutorial, any gruesome appendage will do just fine.
The other equipment that is being used apart from a camera (Canon 6D Mark II) are some LED light painting brushes, fibre optic brushes, and some pretty cool LED light wraps from Spiffy Gear (KYU-6). These light wraps are awesome because you can actually wrap them around things, like your camera so you don’t lose it in the dark, or fence posts to light your way back to the car when you’re out shooting at night, or even for wrapping around your wrist to relive those days of illegal 90’s raves. But anyway I digress, back to the tutorial.
First, Jason shows us with the lights on what he’s going to do. He sets his camera up with shutter speed set to Bulb, Aperture is f/8, ISO 100. So far so good. He uses a round piece of plexiglass that he moves from the camera lens to the face of the ‘model’. I’m not entirely sure what the effect of this is, but it looks kind of cool. He continues by using a blue light pen to illuminate the eye sockets. Then he shines an orange light over the sides of the face and underneath for that scary lit-from-below look.
He then uses the fibre optic brush to light the sides of the model’s face where the hair should be. Then, he dances and waves the brush around behind the model to create some abstract fiery effects. He repeats this with another colour. The LED light wraps are used for further background effects in different colours.
Now for the really scary part: Jason repeats the exercise with the lights off and captures the whole thing in one single exposure, the exposure length being 250 seconds. The final effect is, well, interesting. Personally for my taste, it is a little overlit, I can’t help thinking that the head looks a heck of a lot scarier when all of it isn’t lit up like a fairground, but maybe that’s just me, I do tend to favour the dark side of photography. With some experimentation, this would be a really fun and easy thing to try at home, particularly if you have kids or teenagers who are interested in photography. You can quite literally let your imagination run wild and enjoy seeing what kind of effects you can achieve.
But remember one thing: never, ever, turn out the lights (except for when you’re actually light painting, then you kind of need to 😉 ).