Learning to Light Paint – Claire Harper

We introduce our new blog contributor Claire Harper, who is going to be talking all things light painting



A fun, interesting and quirky photographic style, light painting can be the perfect new challenge for a photographer looking to do something different and push his or her creativity.

Our new blog contributor Claire Harper will be unlocking the secrets of light painting, explaining the kit and techniques you need to do it. Happily, the requirements for both are fairly minimal, as Claire herself found out less than two years ago.

“I’ve got a normal job Monday to Friday, but I’m also a tour guide at the Victoria Tunnel,” Claire says. “I had the idea of doing a photography tour – I didn’t even have a camera or anything at that point. The first one was a bit of a disaster, we just had some students who turned up with iPhones, but on the second one we had a gentleman come in who was into light painting. So we just watched him, and from that moment on I was addicted.”



Almost two years after that first fateful workshop, Claire and the light painting crew are now running weekly workshops in the Tunnel and have spread to Newcastle’s castle, local cathedrals and other locations. A recent outing to Sunderland Aircraft Museum had 74 photographers in attendance.

“The workshops just kind of run themselves because they’re all professional photographers,” Claire says. “A lot of the people that like light painting are professionals who do it for fun. And a lot of the other people that come are amateurs who just want to learn. Everybody teaches each other.”





One thing that Claire hopes to get across with her blog series is that you in no way need masses of expensive gear to start light painting.

“Eighteen months on, I’ve still just got my basic camera and kit lens [a Canon EOS 500D], and everything else I kind of made myself. Apart from torches which obviously you do have to buy,” she says. “I’ve got a cheap torch which I bought from eBay, which is a ten-colour changer, and I’ve also got a four-colour Lenser. I make adapters for the ends of them.”



Claire will go into more details on her setup in blog posts, but the DIY nature of the rig goes to show that a simple approach can yield great results.

“It is really simple, you don’t need a new flashy camera, though lots of people do have them,” Claire says. “I’ve even known some people do light painting on their phones – the phones are that good, especially the new Samsung Galaxies. I used to use an app called something like Slow Shutter Speed – this was before I had my camera.”



As for the future? Claire is happy to keep the workshops running and keep spreading the light painting addiction as far and wide as possible.

“I want everybody to realise that they can do it that easily,” she says. “I love the fact that all I see on Facebook now is people from the group light painting all over the place, experimenting. I want to see where it goes.”


Claire will be contributing to the Wex blog with posts about painting, writing and drawing with light and long exposures. Follow here on Twitter here and Instagram here.



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