description ‘painting with light’, as used by photographers,
has usually referred to the process of leaving the camera on a
tripod, set on a long time exposure, with a very small aperture,
whilst the photographer moves around the darkened scene
illuminating different parts of the picture with a flash, or some
other light source. This
way the picture is gradually created by a series of short light
bursts on only the selected areas.
Cohen won the London Salon Trophy in 1967 for a transparency of
a portrait of the profile of a girl, blended with a negative of
a tulip, all achieved as a transparency.
Titled ‘Spirit of Spring’ this picture and many other
award winning photographs can all be seen on his web pages at
also these ‘painting with light’ techniques are more fully explained, with pictures,
in his article ‘The Magic Lantern’ that can also be found at
his web site.
of ‘painting with light’ is also done in a darkened room, or
outside at night, but this time by using a hand held torch
whilst the shutter remains open, the torch is moved about to
create an image (rather like the effect of streaks of light made
by car headlights, on a busy road at night) this can also be used to
light just very selective small parts of the scene.
This form of painting with light is possible with just
about any kind of light source such
as; matches, candles, mobile phones, sparklers, laser light, or
glow sticks, just about any light source can be used!
A third method
is achieved by moving the camera instead, whilst keeping the
shutter open, in this way one can add a sense of movement to the
scene. Or if the
subject is moving, by using a long exposure, a picture with the
blurred movement is also obtained, this too has been referred to,
by photographers, as painting with light.
These are the
most well known ‘painting with light’ techniques. But John Cohen has a very interesting different photographic
technique to create special effects, that also really justifies this description too!
Cohen’s technique is based on using projected images that
are not always projected on to a screen, sometimes more than one
projector is used and then the projected images are
example he has projected a portrait of a young girl on to a
shell and then photographed what can be seen.
This way the screen (in this case the shell) can become part
of the new picture. With
careful masking more than one image can be blended, when more
than one projector is used.
So with two or more projectors it is possible to blend parts of
different images, but it was also easily possible to mix black and
white images with colour and even negative images with
these techniques in the mid 1960’s, well before computers were
available for photographers; it all began when he noticed how a
picture looked that he had projected (before putting up the
screen) so that this image appeared partially on the wallpaper
and the curtains. He
then started moving the projector around and focused the image
on to various different items in the room and soon decided it would be
interesting to photograph some of the effects he could see.
So began a fascinating way of creating amazing
" ...regarded as one of Britain's most original photographers." The Times
"To Cohen, the impossible in colour merely takes a little longer..." Photography Year
His limited editions (of only 8 of each picture) can be seen at: -
To see examples of
John’s new images, in different colours, please have a look
You can also be kept informed on John
Neville Cohen’s Facebook Fan page
Neville Cohen international top award winning photographer and
artist, has other interests too, please have a look at https://www.jncohen.net
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