A few months ago, I did a photography project with all the classes at Cookie’s preschool. One of my favorite projects, suggested by photographer Shirley Serure- she was also dying to try it- was light painting. It’s a very easy and fun project to do with your kids, and you can teach them basic tenants of photography and understanding light with this and make some cool abstract modern art in the process. But most of all, it’s really, really fun.
What you need:
A dark room, a basement, a dark hallway… Any place that doesn’t have natural or too much artificial light.
Flash lights, lasers, colored lights… whatever… up to you.
A camera with capacity for slow shutter speed. You can use an app for that on your iPhone.
A stabilizer for your camera- tripod, table to rest it on, either will work.
What to do:
Set your camera into manual mode.
Change your shutter speed to B for Bulb. This is going to allow you to control the amount of time that your shutter stays open. While the shutter is open your camera will “record” all the light information that you are feeding it. Your motion will be captured as a photograph.
Set your ISO to 100.
You can experiment with the aperture on your camera. In the simplest possible terms: The aperture controls how big the hole that lets light into the camera is. The smaller the number, the bigger the hole, the more light. The bigger the number, the smaller the hole, the darker the photos. In terms of light painting, this means that photos with a large aperture/ low f number will be lighter, and you will see the subject in the photos. Photos with a smaller aperture/ high f number will be almost black except for the light. You can see the difference below, and decide how you want your photos to look. Of course, you can always adjust this with photoshop later (even iPhoto can do it.)
Place your camera on a tripod or table, and while in B mode, hold down the shutter speed for as long as you want while someone waves a flashlight. We had colored little finger lights, you can also use colored cellophane or colored bulbs, even Christmas lights to change the colors of lights. 5-20 or 30 seconds should do it. Release and look at your work!
These were three year old kids. So their imagination is limited to running around and spinning their arms in circles, but if you are doing this with older kids you can draw things! You can experiment by “drawing” behind the kid with the flash light to create a silhouette, spelling things by shutting off the light in between letters, or like Picasso, making gorgeous line drawings. A young child will enjoy this, but an older child can be taught the basic principals of how a camera works!
Picasso’s light painting
Enjoy! I think its a fun thing to do on a warm summer night!