Everything you ever wanted to know about photography, but were afraid to ask.

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Saturday, 28 December 2013

How to Create Light Trails in Photos aka Light Painting.

You may have seen photos with streaks of light in the frame, such as car tail light trails, star trails, light drawings, etc. This is a form of long exposure photography known as Light Painting or Painting by Light.

So I thought I would write a simple tutorial on how you can achieve this with your camera, and whilst the actual shots look cool the technique is not really all that difficult to do.

What is Light Painting?

You may or may not have heard of the term 'Light Painting' or 'Paint by Light' but it is the technical or posh term for doing long exposure photography that causes light trails or light streaks in photos.

Something like the ones below are done using Light Paint techniques


As you can see the effect you get from light painting is the light stays in the frame longer which create a light trail or star, depending on the light source.

So how do you do this?


There are several things you need to check as prerequisites to your light painting before you can starts, these are

  1. Camera - although you don't strictly need a DSLR to start your light painting journey, you do need a camera that has some manual adjustment on it, this normally takes the form of a dial on the top of the camera with settings such as M, TV and AV not to mention others. 
  2. Tripod - Although you can do light painting by placing you camera on a stable surface, a tripod makes your life a whole lot easier, and it doesn't have to be a carbon fibre all singing all dancing one, even a small mini tripod will do the trick, as long as it holds the camera at the right height and still it will do the trick.
  3. Torch or other light source - this is something to play around with, but for this tutorial you just need some form of light you can move in front of the camera.
The 290 range of compact, reliable tripods is designed to accompany passionate new photographers keen to improve and progress.

Setting your camera up for Light Painting / Long Exposure

Ok assuming you have checked your camera has the necessary settings here is what you need to do to get ready for your light painting.

Note: we are going to do this the easier way possible, as it is possible to use Full Manual mode but we will stick to using a semi auto mode for this tutorial,

  1. Turn your camera Dial and select TV mode (although you can select M if you are happy to use full manual)
  2. Turn the rear dial on the camera until you see 1"0 somewhere on the rear screen, normally at the bottom of the screen. You can do this by turning the dial on the back of your camera, if you look at the rear screen of your camera and turn this dial you will see the numbers on the screen change. They will read something like 1"0 or 1/80. If you don't know the number shown is seconds so the number 1"0 is 1 second and 1/80 is 1 80th of a second, this is the time that the shutter on the camera will remain open after pressing the shutter release button. Basically anything showing lower than about 1/80 such as 1/60 or 1"00 means that the camera should really be on a tripod, but this depends on how steady you can hold the camera. 
  3. Set your camera to Auto Focus
  4. Put your camera on a tripod or other stable none moving surface such as a wall.
OK thats it you are all set to do some light painting

How to do Light Painting?

The main secret to light painting is to keep the camera still and move the light source, this way most of the frame will be in focus whilst the light appears to move through the frame. So how do you do the actual light painting? I am going to tell you a few simple steps to get you on your way and test your setup and light painting.

  1. Set your camera up on the tripod, making sure to allow enough room in front of the camera for you to move the torch around without knocking over the camera.
  2. Press the shutter release button on your camera and quickly run in front of your camera into the frame of the shot and swing the torch around in the direction of the camera, of course the torch needs to be switched on. Something like this
As you can see the light streaks in the frame, and that my friends is how to light paint.

Note: if you find that you don't have enough time to get into the frame, either get someone else to press the shutter button or simply move the rear camera dial and select a longer shutter time something like 3"0.

So What Next?

Well all you need to do is remember that the secrets to light painting are as follows
  1. Make sure your camera is kept still ideally on a tripod.
  2. Set your shutter speed using the TV (Time Value) setting on your camera to 1"0 or longer.
  3. Press the shutter button and move some light in front of the camera. This can be a torch, traffic, stars or any other light source that moves.
So just go nuts, and have a play around. If you have any questions just let me know.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

How to get published

I have had loads of people asking about how to get their work published, this has come from fellow photographers, models, make up artists, stylists and designers. So I thought I would write a post about the best ways to get your work seen and published.

I am going to split them into two areas Direct and In-Direct. Direct is you actively approaching the magazines, indirect is being found by them.


Email and Trade Fairs

One great way to get in front of magazine is to attend trade fairs, taking along a printed version of your portfolio. You never know who may be there, but just make sure that you attend the right fairs, there is no point in attending the Ideal Home Show if you do fashion photography. Also remember to take some business cards with you to give to anyone you meet.

Also as you now how to use the internet you can research magazine websites online and contact them directly, find email addresses of editors, art departments, etc and send them your work by email. This can pay off but remember large magazines get thousands of submissions everyday so dont be put off if you dont hear back.

In Person - Post (yes good old fashion post)

If you know the actual address of a magazine you could send them your printed portfolio directly either take it in person or post it to them, but remember to try to find the name of someone to direct it too so it doesnt get lost in the junk mail pile.

CT Magazine

You have probably heard of CT Magazine, its basic purpose on this planet is to publish and showcase the hidden talent in the world of fashion, everyone from photographers, models, make up artists, stylists, designers. So if you have some great shots you would like published check out the website and get in touch - http://ctmagazine.co.uk/How-to-get-published-in-CT-magazine.htm


Social Networks

The first thing to remember is that now thanks to the internet and social media, its easier to get your work in front of the people that matter, editors, creative directors, etc. So one think to remember is to post your shots to social media. Whether that is to FaceBook, Google+, Twitter or Flickr. The thing to remember is to post it to these sites.

now posting it onto these sites is not enough, you must then be social in your process, take part in discussions, and especially on Google+ take part in #ing events, these happen all the time and offer a great way to get your shots seen. These range widely from things such as #shoesmonday to #TreeTuesday and so on. Remember that the more people who see your shots the better.


Now you will now by now what a #hashtag is, its a simple way for engines such as Twitter, Google, FaceBook to find stuff. Although its not a guarantee of being found it does help. So when ever you post a photo make sure to label it with the correct #hashtags, so what I suggest doing is post a photo to your Flickr account, then use the share options in Flickr to share your photo to twitter and then add the #hashtags for your shots, such as #fashion #outdoor or what ever your shot is about.


Although I have mentioned social media, the benefit of twitter is that you can almost target you tweets to anyone, so as well as adding the #hashtags to your photos, make a point of finding out the magazine you would like to be published in, or and even better the person who makes the decisions for publication. For example if you would like to be feature in CT Magazine you can follow them by following them at @CT_FashionMag and if you want to get more in touch with CT Magazine you can follow the editor directly at @SeanJC you get the idea. But dont think that by simply tweeting your photo to a magazine it will get published. They need to see worth in your shots as well as creative flare.

Hard Work

But I guess the most important thing to remember is that you must put the work in, you need to keep your portfolio up to date with different shots that show your creativity, and above all else spend time actively being part of the social media world. As you now have direct links to people you never did before, but they need to see you and see that you care about what you do.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

CT Magazine Issue 1 - available in print on Magcloud

CT Magazine - Issue 1
CT Magazine brings you the latest from the world of fashion, with a unique twist, we showcase the hidden talents behind the shots. Everyone from photographers, models, make up artists, designers to writers and editors.