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How to light objects from the inside:

I’m obsessed with light, fascinated by inner beauty and needed to create a photograph for the Food Photographer of the Year….that & needed an article for my photography education blog; Lightism; for non-photographers & photographers alike.

I’ve often daydreamt about how to light up people from the inside and wondered if I could utilise this random thought into something creative and yet practical.  So I collected various foods which were transparent in some way and a number of light sticks from the local hardware store and this was my first attempt:

www.Lightism.co.uk - Think creativley

It proved the idea was executable, but the coloured light sticks were distorting the objects colour and in using a speed light with a homemade grid spot to light the stalk, it confused the viewer as to where the light was coming from.

I needed white light, brighter white light. EBay yielded these; 30 minute military spec white glow sticks from Lumica for around £1.20 each.

I tried again with these which were much brighter and I didn’t need to use the speed light. The peppers sprung a leak and over the long exposure you can see multiple drips, but I liked the result:

Lite from within - sweet peppers filled with iluminous liquid, s

When the next box of light sticks arrived, I moved onto eggs.
I started with chicken eggs and frankly was very frustrated by how disappointing they looked; both in colour and they just looked so very uninteresting.

So, I took a spoon and randomly tapped the surface to crack them to let some of the light come through; this was definitely more interesting:

Eggs is Eggs  - (Series: Lite from within - an egg filled with i

 

Finally I wanted to try out other types of eggs and quail eggs from the supermarket where particularly successful. Interesting looking, small and each were surprisingly unique.

Again, I started with them intact, but soon smashed them up a little.
I had a mad idea about trying to insert a narrative to the picture and so used match sticks as arms, which made this amusing picture of a boxer:

Beaten Eggs

For my final shot, I smashed three quail eggs and I loved how each became even more unique:

 egg-xhibition - Learn how to take creative pictures @ www.Lighti

So, if you want to have a play and make some interesting and creative images here is a step by step how to guide to lighting up objects from inside:

 

What you’ll need:

 CameraAwesomePhoto-web

 

1)      Prepare the subject:
Whether you use a sweet pepper or an egg, you’ll need to carved a small hole in the upper rear, big enough for a syringe without a needle attached. I use an acutely pointed kitchen knife.
For eggs, you can use a syringe to extract the contents.

 

2)      Prepare the set:
You’ll only need a small space, ideally with blackout blinds (or you could tape black bin bags over the window)   I used my trusty sheet of black velvet material draped over a plank.

If the room is dark enough, you won’t need a background.  It’s a good idea to have something around to mop up spills. I used blue tack to sit the objects on or fishing wire to hang them from.

 

3)      Prepare the camera:
You’ll need a tripod and then switch your camera to manual focus.
Ideally you’ll need a remote trigger or set your camera to self timer.
I worked at 70mm, f22, iso 100, and exposures varying from 30 to 90 seconds. Focusing is best done with the lights on and at the greatest magnification possible on your camera.

 

4)      Prepare the Light Sticks:
Each glow stick (link see above) will give you about 4mm of liquid light. A chicken egg can consume 3 or 4 of these, whist a quail egg uses 1 or 2.

Once everything else is ready and not before, snap the glow sticks and give them a good shake.
Cut each one in the centre about half way through with a serrated kitchen knife over a measuring jug. Bend the stick from to release the liquid; small shards of glass will also come out.
Once I’ve milked them so to speak, I use a syringe to extract the liquid safely from the broken glass and deliver it into the object.

 

Personally, I like the second image…let me know which of these images you prefer and send me any you make yourself.

 

If you like the simple way this tip taught you a complex subject, you’ll love my Lightism blog’s 10 free simple lessons to take your photography to the next level or many of the other great blog articles which are updated weekly

 


 

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Honorable mention in the 'Mobile Photography Awards'

I recently shot this for the forth coming book version of this Lightism blog; out later this year.

Shot using LED lighting & Camera Phone

I thought it was rather sweet, so entered it into the ‘Mobile Photography Awards’ and received an Honorable Mention. It will be on display at the Mobile Photography Awards Premiere at the Soho Gallery for Digital Art in New York in February.

HI_QUALITY_MPA_logo_med (1)

It’s always heart warming to have your work validated.

Will pen a ‘how to’ soon.

 

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Nominated in the MAD Blog Awards 2013:

A big THANK YOU to those readers you who nominated Lightism for ‘Best Photography blog’ at the forth coming MAD Blog Awards 2013.

MAD Blog Awards

 

 

 

 

 

 

I only started this blog a few months ago and you can see from the statistic below it’s gone crazy.

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I cannot tell you all how much this means to me….
so thanks for all your visits,  feedback, comments, etc.

It’s always heart warming to have efforts rewarded.

 

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Develop your photographic perspective skills though Self Portraiture:

 Liar

Self portraiture is a great fun way to explore and develop your creativity in terms of perspectives.

This works because most people only put the camera where their eye can go, so making then photograph themselves forces them to split this union of eye and camera and they suddenly get much more experimental.

So, to get you thinking about perspectives, cast your mind to good movie where someone drives a car at night:

Every few seconds you’ll get a different perspective on this…
the camera starts inside the car from the rear, cuts to driver in side profile, cuts to rear view mirror, cuts to driver from outside the car, cuts to driver passing by, cuts to car from the rear, etc, etc.

Next time you watch a movie or TV, I want you to count the perspectives in each scene.

Now, we’re not shooting a movie so we only need one perspectives and not a sequence of them, but let’s make it a creative one.
Here’s one of me shot from the bottom of sink full of water, I love the way my head is bursting with ideas in the form of bubbles.

DCIM100GOPRO

I’m not suggesting you try this, but how about from inside of your fridge or oven looking outwards, or an unusual perspective at work, on your commute or where you play. Think high, low or inside
(from an objects perspective)

I want you to have fun, experiment, put your camera in some new and unusual places and to stop thinking about taking pictures from the conventional eye level position.

Develop your photographic perspective skills though Self Portrai

Reflections can be a great and simple way to get an unusual self portrait and once you start looking there is no shortage of opportunities.  (This is me on a train; I particularly like the pool of light & the second reflected head over my heart)

Otherwise, you’ll need to be able to hold your camera still, if you don’t have a tripod you’re going to have to improvise. For example, smart phone users could try this pencil stand.
You’ll need to turn your phone around to take pictures clearly.

Make a tripod / Stand for your smartphone @ Lightsim.co.uk

Providing you have a self timer, any smart phone, tablet or camera with a self timer will do. Or, you can trigger the shutter by noise (shouting, clapping, etc) if you use a Smart phone and tablet with a  free app called Trigger Trap…how cool is that?

Another great tool is the Xshot a wonderfully simple tool which allows you to hold your camera beyond arms length to photograph yourself and so much more.

xshot pro snowboarding

 

Your Assignment & Prize:
Shoot a self portrait from a creative perspective, post it in our new flickr group and 1st March, I’ll choose a winner and will be giving away an Xshot (courtesy of the folks over at Xshot)

 

Inspiration:  Stars of self portraiture:
Several photographers and artists have made a career from pushing the boundaries of self portraiture and their work provides a great source of inspiration.

Miss Aniela - who I spent the day shooting with a couple of years ago is the epitome of this and has published several books on the subject.

Aniela

Jun Ahn - has very recently been discovered by the media and pushes the boundaries in a different way.

A self portrait of Jun Ahn dangling from a skyscraper

For a bunch of other FREE lessons for you to try,

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How to make a DIY photographic light that doesn't use electricity or batteries

In this article, I’m going to show you how to make a DIY photographic light that doesn’t use electricity or even batteries,
it’s cheap (under £10), light, portable and scalable.

I’ve been using military grade white light sticks (30 minute ones by Lumica, link below) for another photographic project which I’ll share next month.  They cost £1.20 each, are bright and give a really night white milky light.

How to make a DIY photographic light out of glowsticks - www.Lig

So, I thought I’d experiment with these glow sticks and make a simple DIY fill light as a prototype to see how they lit a subject in a portrait.  I wanted to share this with you as I really like the results and it’s very easy to make.

This light is really a fill light, so I’d suggest you’d use in ambient lighting conditions, use your light meter to get the correct setting on your camera and then bring in the fill light to pick out your subject….This light gives off a glow a bit like the new Ice Light, but the beauty of it, it doesn’t cost £500 which the Ice Light does.

I did really like the effect of using a long tubular light instead of the usual formats.

I pushed it much further by shooting it in total darkness and I had planned to power the light with 6 x glow sticks, but only had 4 left. This resulted in me having to push the camera settings a bit (iso 3200, f2.8, 1/8, auto white balance & no colour correction) but, if you use it as above you won’t have to.

This solution is scalable, so you could build it from a bigger pipe and use more glow sticks.

I used white pipe and cable ties so as not to pollute the colour of the light (the colour temperature)
If you really want an Ice Light, you could spray it matt black.

 

What you’ll need:

4 x (or more) military grade 30 minute white light sticks: £1.20 each
1 x Length of white plumbing pipe: £2
1 x white pluming pipe end cap: £1
4 x tie wraps (ideally clear): £1
A saw, a drill, small sheet of sand paper and a pair of scissors.

 

Step 1:
Measure the rough length of two light sticks and mark the pipe.

Step 2:
Decide how long you want the handle, if you use a tripod or an assistant when you use it can be short. If not have a long handle as this light does need to be quite close to your model.

Step 3:
Cut the pipe to the desired length.

How to make a DIY photographic light out of glowsticks - www.Lig Step 4:
Cut the pipe in half down its length until you reach the point that you marked, then cut on the mark to remove a slice of pipe. Tidy the edges with sandpaper.

Step 5:
Drill and fit the tie wraps to hold the glow sticks as shown.
I used cable ties to secure the two rows of glow sticks (maybe florists foam could replace the middle two and the bottom row could be inverted for a more elegant solution)

How to make a DIY photographic light out of glowsticks - www.Lig Step 6:
Pop some glow sticks in and pop the end cap on.
(It’s easiest to snap them first before you fit them)

How to make a DIY photographic light out of glowsticks - www.Lig

 

Tips:
  • When you snap the glow sticks, give them a really good shake to mix the liquid.
  • Start with the light close to the model and back off to adjust the brightness.
  • Try using the length of the light to highlight one side of your subject to create depth & shadow.
  • Try using horizontal(ish) above the model.

 

 

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How to train your eye to take better pictures

To take a good photograph you need to know what good looks like….sounds daft I know, but training your eye is very important.
In this article, I’m going to show you several free sources of amazing photography one of which even tells you ‘pro tip’ per picture.
Plus an exercise to train your eyes.

The first and my all time favorite is the British newspaper; The Guardian;  eyewitness series and although photo journalism is not my thing you can’t help but be amazed, intrigued and learn so much from these images. It’s available on web or where it really shines is on an Ipad,  if you have one.

The pro tips are on the right hand side online, or behind the info button bottom left hand side on an Ipad.

This tells a story with a single powerful image and I feel its simplicity is its strength.

When you take a look at each image I want you to start to do the following exercise:

Your mind analyses pictures in a fraction of a second without you consciously understanding the logic or the process. I want you to become very aware of the process, its super quick so pay attention.

Your eye will enter an image at a point it is drawn too, then wanders around gathering information until it can exit and move on to the next task. That’s why some images hold your eye for longer than others.

I often close my eyes load the images and then concentrate on observing my mind and my eyes.

  1. Put your finger on the point your eye is draw towards
    (often the lightest, brightest or most colourful point)
  2. Mentally trace the path your eye takes around the picture.
    (spot any S shapes or reverse S shapes?)
  3. Has the photographer used the rule of thirds?
    (Here’s a link to one of our 10 easy lessons on composition)
  4. Has the photographer shot from his eye level
    (a lower or higher perspective make a huge difference)
  5.  What is the photographer trying to SAY?
    (Strong pictures have a narrative)
  6.  How has the photographer used the environment to do this?
  7.  How has the photographer used light?
    (i.e: Darker edges keep your eye in the picture for longer)
  8. Why does the picture work?
  9. Does it evoke an emotional response?
  10.  From the above list, what could you apply to your pictures?

 

reuters-the-wider-image

The Second source I can recommend is from the news agency Reuters called The Wider Image and is only available as an Ipad app.  It has a lead image and then a slideshow per story, but no pro tips I’m afraid.

Give the exercise a try; I want you to become very conscious of good images and why they work. Once you have mastered this, I’ll teach you to apply it to your own images.

If you like the simple way this tip taught you a complex subject, you’ll love my Lightism blog’s 10 free simple lessons to take your photography to the next level or many of the other great blog articles which are updated weekly

 


 

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Get a better perspective....set your camera free:

A few months ago, I bought a specialist camera which had the ability to use my phone as a view finder, this combined with a mono pole and am now able to place the camera anywhere to get perspectives that before I could only dream about….and it’s brilliant…no, let me rephrase…it’s the future!

So, the big benefits are achieved when fitting it to the pocket mono pole are: you can shoot from the ground, get closer to things, take your own picture, shoot above crowds, do low level aerial photography, get amazing perspectives and generally just bemuse onlookers!

But, as the basic premise of Lightism is: “Buying a better camera won’t make you a better photographer, Lightism will”… I’m going to tell you a trick to achieve this with your existing camera, phone, tablet, or whatever camera you have.

GoPro Hero 3 Still - Fortnum & Mason, London

You’ve got two options in terms of sophistication and spend:
(other than buying Gopro Hero 3)

 

Simple low cost option:
We can mount your existing device to a pole and use your self-timer to trigger it.

Or, you can trigger the shutter by noise (shouting, clapping, etc) if you use an iPhone or android device on your pole and free app called Trigger Trap…how cool is that?

You’ll need a pole….I just LOVE mine which is available from http://xshot.com and fits in my coat pocket when not in use.

If for some reason your camera / device doesn’t have a tripod mount (a screw hole often in the base) you may also need a google how to tripod mount your device.

 

Way Cooler option:
Use your smartphone with an app to control your camera.
(or that old second phone you never got around to selling on ebay if your camera is your phone)

For this the camera / device on mounted to the pole needs to have wifi / Bluetooth or you can add one of a new generation of memory cards with built in wifi for your camera, such as eye-fi but there are others and they range from about £20.

The additional bonus is your Ipad / tablet can be connected (tethered) to show people your pictures as you take them.
You can find an Instructional video here

Andriod option here
Iphone & Ipad option here

 

GoPro Hero 3 Still - Winters Morn, Learn composition at www.Ligh General tips:

- Experiment and try a wide range of perspectives from low to high.

- When using a pole I tend to loosen the adjustable head on the pole so the camera is always level thanks to gravity.

- Sometimes you’ll need to use the camera upside down, so check out if you can lock the orientation of the screen you are using as a viewfinder.

- If you’re shooting water try your camera as low as you’d dare to get amazing perspectives.

Take better pictures with Phones, Gopro, Tablets, Cameras at Lig

- The second option (without a pole) is great for capturing wildlife in the garden, hide the camera on the bird table or where other small animals visit.

Take better pictures with Phones, Gopro, Tablets, Cameras at Lig

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Creative pictures in bad weather (1)...Fog & Mist:

If you want to take more creative and interesting pictures, you need to consider pushing the boundaries of when you would normally take them.  In this article we explore what opportunities fog and mist present.

So, check the weather forecast and grab a coat because personally just love misty or foggy days for taking pictures.

IMG_6429 Magpie VJ

It gives everything a surreal quality and turns ordinary places you know into somewhere else.

Especially try open bodies of water or the coast.


Turn a picture upside down
– Have you ever thought, hold on…that would look better upside down (or flipped)…Oh…just me then.  Well above is a perfect example of one that does….original below:

Even the most unexpected subject can become very interesting in the fog as it changes the depth of your view.

If you do find an interesting subject it can be worth waiting or revisiting as the density of the fog or mist changes.
(Can you see the flock of birds?)

Add some words – again, I often think what that picture needs is some words.  Clearly these are added afterwards and there are a range of software options from apps like:

Overgram (ios)
Instanote (android)
Photoeditor

All of which will have ‘how to videos’ on youtube, etc.

 

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Composition....The 10 Second Rule

Getting your composition right is one of the biggest and easiest
improvements you can make in your photography.

Composition - The 10 Second Rule:

Here’s a link to a lesson that explains the principles of composition.

Last week by happy accident I discovered a great little exercise to help you improve your composition.

It sounds simple, but give it a try:

1) Turn your self timer on
(my phone apps allows up to 10 seconds)

2) Compose your picture as usual

3)  Take your picture

4) You’ll now have a few extra seconds before the shutter clicks to have a second look at your existing composition & more importantly chance to adjust it.

5) Move your device around little, can you move your horizon or subject to exploit the rule of thirds.  Can you get closer or lower?

 

You need to repeat this exercise a few times ideally with a static subject and then you’ll start to retrain your eye.

Even as a professional I was surprised how I could improve my image especially when using a smartphone.

 

If you like the simple way this tip taught you a complex subject, you’ll love my Lightism blog’s 10 free simple lessons to take your photography to the next level or many of the other great blog articles which are updated weekly

 


 

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Do something new: Make a time-lapse on your phone

You’ve all seen time-lapse videos on TV where the people, traffic or clouds are speeded up.  This used to be the preserve of video production companies, but now with a free app and a smart phone you too can make a time-lapse video.

Last week we took an iPhone, loaded a FREE time-lapse app, popped it on top of a cupboard and set it to take a picture every two seconds during Christmas lunch.  I know what you’re thinking, what could be more boring than watching people eat, but you’d be wrong.

If nothing else its people watching on speed, it’s fascinating how people interact, work together and frankly move a lot!

Sure it won’t win any awards, but it goes to show that you can make a time-lapse during social occasions, impress your friends
(and include friends and family in far flung places)

[embedplusvideo height="241" width="429" standard="http://www.youtube.com/v/_wDPTJXV0II?fs=1" vars="ytid=_wDPTJXV0II&width=429&height=241&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=0&autoplay=0&react=1&chapters=&notes=" id="ep5777" /]

There are plenty of free apps and loads of tutorial videos on YouTube or Vimeo, so have a go!

 

If you want some serious inspiration on what is possible with time-lapse, check out this amazing video which took a year in the making:

[embedplusvideo height="269" width="429" standard="http://www.youtube.com/v/cSXeiPJ3Ghg?fs=1" vars="ytid=cSXeiPJ3Ghg&width=429&height=269&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=0&autoplay=0&react=1&chapters=&notes=" id="ep6721" /]

 

For a bunch of other creative things for you to try,
check out:  Lesson 8 – Get Creative

 


 

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