Light Graffiti

Phyllis Burstein
with middle school students at Bell Elementary and students at Walter Payton College Prep, Chicago

Payton Students
• Create photos lit with flashlights and other light sources.

Materials: digital cameras, flashlights, tripods (See tips below), optional: colored cellophane, alternative light sources string lights, glow sticks....

Payton Students
• Students set their cameras and prepare flashlights if desired.
• Several students line up cameras on tri-pods, others are in charge of flashlights, others act as models.
• Darken room completely.
Bell Students
Bell Students
• Students take photos, while those with flashlights wave them around pointing them towards models, or towards the camera. Models must stay as still as possible until the lights go back on!

Lesson Expansion:
• Cover some of the flashlights with colored cellophane so that the light trails are in a variety of colors.
 • If you have a camera that can take a very long exposure (at least 3 seconds), light models for one second, have them move, then light them again. They will show up twice in the same photo!

- Have plenty of extra batteries on hand. Taking long exposures and also, looking at your images in the viewfinder to see what you have shot drains the batteries very quickly
-No tripod? Make a tripod! Paper Clip Tripod.  Make a Pop Bottle Tripod 
Point and Shoot Cameras (cameras without manual controls):
If there is a scene mode: choose "fireworks", or "long exposure", or put your camera on automatic. (Most cameras will stay open long enough to get enough light to take a photo.)

Cameras with manual settings:
Set the ISO to 100 (lower ISOs produce less grain or picture noise), set the aperture to f8 (experiment with different f stops once you view the results) and set the shutter to bulb which allows the shutter to remain open as long as you hold the shutter release button down or for as long as your shutter speeds will allow- up to 30 seconds on some cameras.
More links that would be helpful: