Arts and Crafts and Little Lights
Arts and crafts and Christmas lights is not only a good photographic project but quite a fun project to do with an end result that can be admired on your wall for years on end.
Most of us have seen at one point or another those large paintings with rather less than artistic representations which also had little lights placed at strategic or not, locations everywhere within the work. They were usually nothing but "posterized" paintings with led lights. This particular project can be similar but it involves other elements and the experience and skills of you, the photographer.
Among the items which you will need are a deep frame like the ones used to display collections and such, some led lights or better yet those small Christmas lights, some cardboard the same size as the image, a very fine hobby knife, glue or tacks and tape, your favorite Christmas scene or any scene that features some illuminated elements such as a Christmas tree, candles, windows street lights etc. A very good theme is to photograph a full moon with some stars and put the lights where the stars are.
Quite simply, once you have located or decided on a suitable scene, record its image and enlarge it to at least an 11X14, smaller sizes can be used but are harder to work with. Make sure to print several prints in case you damage one.
You will next mount a cardboard backing onto which the print will be glued, cut holes with the hobby knife along side of the illuminated elements in the scene; where you want a light to be.
Once you have made the respective holes or cuts where the light will shine through, then on the second cardboard which has to be the same size as the previous one, place the cardboard with the image glued onto it , make sure that both cardboard surfaces are perfectly aligned with each other; corners with corners, place a felt tip marker through the holes so that the tip reaches and marks the board below it.
These marks are where you will place the lights and glue or tape them in place and upon placing both cardboards together they will produce illumination which will be seen on the scene wherever the holes or cuts were made.
You will have to basically cut holes on the images, essentially making them unusable for any other use but this one. Yet this project can offer one and the family a fun activity which will produce art prints which you will be proud to show friends and family.
Some things to keep in mind, the images should not be too cluttered with too many details, simpler ones often work best. Choose scenes that have some lighted elements scattered throughout the scene. Make sure to think like a photographer first and arts & crafts later.
Look images that are pleasing and striking because of the elements within and its beauty. Digital or film makes no difference since you will be making prints and these are what you will be working with.
Some tips, the cardboard should be paint a flat black to control reflections, led lights are best but the smaller Christmas lights will do just as well. Make sure to cut an opening in the frame through which you will run the electric cord that supplies electricity to the lights. Do not go crazy with the lights, often less is better. Carefully select a scene due to the elements on it.
Good subjects to choose are those in which one or a couple of street lamps are present or a single Christmas tree, some holiday gifts and other festive displays. Separate the surface onto which the lights are glued about 1/4 to 1/2 inch apart from the surface where the image is affixed. Too far and it loses depth, too close and the lights can be seen and this also detracts from the scene. Foam squares are good materials for this.
Use white lights since colored and blinking lights detract from the scene, unless off course the scene has a relevant Christmas or festive theme to it. Other smaller sizes can be used but 11X14 is usually the best because it allows you some working flexibility. Although not needed a glass facing should also be used.
This technique has not really taken off when applied to photographs. If you get really creative and perfect the technique it could lead to a specialization which can in turn lead to a source for making sales. Anything in the world of photography is still open for those that are willing to give it their best shot.
Don't limit the technique to only Christmas, basically any holiday or any scene can be used. Just be mindful to apply the same technique and tips as for this particular one.
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