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by: Emil Schildt

Painting with light is, on one hand, a very, very simple technique. But on the other hand, it is a technique that requires lots of practice.

Small lamp (Can be a used lamp)
25-watt light bulb (Sylvania brand works good)
Cardboard (To wrap around the bulb)
Camera with "Bulb" or Time" setting (sometimes T or Z)
Lockingextension cord
Completely dark room

Basically, the idea is that you have to light the areas in the picture that you want to show, and avoid areas you don't.

This is a technique with lots of variables, so here are some helpful tips:

1. Always use the same films. I have very good results with AGFA APX 100 ISO for B/W, and FUJI RTP ll T (64 ISO) for slides.
2. The aperture is F:11 forB/W , and F:8 for slides.
3. Try (at least in the beginning) to always maintain the same distance to your subject.
4. Always maintain the same "speed" (your movements with your lamp).

If you do this, and you have a negative that has had too much/little light - then change your APERTURE - nothing else. This will make your trip to stardom easier!

About the bulb; not all bulbs are suitable tothis technique. You just need a 25 Watt bulb with a reflector. But be aware, in my experience "Philips" bulbs will break very quickly. You can use what works for you. A VERY GOOD bulb is from the French brand SYLVANIA. If you can get one of these, you will be better off.

Now you are ready to go....

Place your subject in front of your camera, focus, set the aperture, and if you arephotographing people - tell them to stand very still.

Make them concentrate on relaxing; that seems to work better than if they are concentrating on not moving.

The you darken the room, and paint….

Be careful that the angle from your light to the model is right; if you go too much to the side of the model, the film will register light from your lamp. This CAN be seen as an effect, but mosttimes it just looks like an error.

Also, you will notice that as you move around your subject, a lot of nice lightings will appear. Make sure you don't overpaint your picture; in the end you will just erase previous beautiful shadows, and the picture will end up as overexposed and shadowless.


Painting in color is in some ways easier than painting in B/W.
I havehad great results using the FUJI RTP ll 64 ISO film.

The colors are very deep and saturated, and the tolerance regarding how much light to use is very high.

I set the aperture at F:8, and sometimes re-shoot at a different aperture.

The possibilities in creating your own colors are endless.
Try this: Buy some pieces of cardboard / cartons in yellow, red, blue, and green. Then, if youwant to change the background color, just take one of these, and hold it up in front of the light, and the result will be interesting.
But you won't know the results until you see the developed film!

The whole process requires lots of TRIAL AND ERROR!!

Good luck!

PS: It is NOT a bad idea to "rehearse" on nude models. When there are no clothes, the light will reflect evenly from the body.In B/W it is especially more difficult with dressed people.


Liquid emulsions are a gods gift..
The possibility to make your prints on almost any surface is interesting - fun, and challenging..
AND it is in some ways even cheaper, than normal printing....

The technique is so comprehensive, that it will take far too much space to fully describe it here..
So - I willwrite a little about the basics, and refer you to a "bible" for more reading...

The emulsion comes in various qualities - surfaces, and prices..
The easiest and cheapest that I know of is "SE 1" - made by Kentmere -in England..This is a great emulsion. The only thing I would like to change is the completely matt surface after drying. Some times I would like a more glossy surface.
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