If you’re bored of the same old lighting effects, black light photography is definitely worth trying. Using black light will give your photos a completely different aesthetic.
With black lights, you can take a standard scene or portrait and turn it into a vibrant image full of neon colours. Just a few black light accessories will transform your studio into a rave or a spaceship.
What is Black Light Photography?
With black light photography, you use black light instead of white light. White light is the light produced by ordinary lamps and flashes. It’s the type of light that illuminates everything we see.
Black light, also known as ultraviolet light, isn’t picked up by the human eye. Light from the sun or a light bulb sits within the visible light spectrum. But UV light is outside this spectrum.
The naked eye might not be able to see black light, but our digital camera sensors can. You can use black lights for photography to give your images a bright glow. Using black light creates dark photos with bright neon colours.
You often see black lights and ultraviolet lights in nightclubs. It gives certain materials a bright neon glow. You can recreate this in your studio or even a darkened room. You just need your camera and a few UV lighting accessories.
9 Tips for Cool Black Light Photography
If you want to get started with black light photography, we have some excellent tips and creative ideas. Get your digital camera ready and let’s get started.
1. Choose a Slow Shutter Speed
The problem with UV lighting is that it produces very little light. If you try and shoot UV photography outside, the black light will be overpowered by the natural light. It means you have to shoot black light photography in a studio.
There are different cameras you can use for black light photography. But you’ll need manual shutter speed options. A mirrorless or DSLR camera is perfect. You can even use your manual control on your smartphone. Or you can get a manual camera app.
Due to the low light levels from UV lighting, you’ll need a slow shutter speed. The exposure time could be from half a second to more than a second. You might need to use the manual shutter mode on your camera.
2. Create a Dark Photography Space
If there’s any other light source, your black lights won’t be able to complete. They’ll be overpowered by the white light. To get the most out of your ultraviolet lights, you need a dark space to work in.
If you’re working in a photography studio, there might be screens and blinds available for blocking out light. But you can also try UV photography at home. Pull the blinds down, draw the curtains, and turn off the lights. Create your own darkroom studio!
3. Black Lights in Standard Light Fittings
UV photography is an excellent way to experiment with portraits. A few black light bulbs can give your portraits a bold new look. And you can do a lot with only a few pieces of equipment.
You can get black light bulbs that fit into a standard light fitting. You can remove the white light bulb from your bedside lamp and insert a UV bulb.
As long as it’s the correct size, it’s a simple solution. You can use black light bulbs in the same way you would a standard bulb.
4. Use Strip Lights for More Power
A single bulb is relatively limited in terms of light output, so go for something a bit stronger if possible. There are some excellent strip lights and bar lights with a higher wattage than a black light bulb.
5. Have Fun With Glow Sticks
You can enhance the rave atmosphere in your photography studio by using glow sticks. They don’t produce much light on their own. But when they’re in a black light environment, they give a bright neon glow.
You can use them to add colour to your photos. Or you can use them for light painting. You’ll be using a long shutter speed anyway, so light painting is easy.
6. Illuminate Your Face with UV Makeup
When you apply UV or glow in the dark makeup in normal light, it doesn’t look terribly exciting. There’s a bit of colour, but that’s it. But under black light, it comes alive.
You can paint your face, or the face of your model, with an array of fluorescent colours. Blues, pinks, and yellows all vibrate out of the darkness.
UV face paint can intensify your portraits. You can turn a standard studio portrait into something mysterious and surreal. You can use it sparingly to highlight parts of the face. Or you can go for a full-on colour assault!
7. Make Your Body Glow With UV Paint
If you enjoy the colour and excitement of UV makeup, you can take it to the next level with glow in the dark body paint.
Much like makeup, you can get UV body paints in all different colours. They’re electric and luminescent. You can really be creative with your subjects. Their body becomes a canvas that tells a story. A story told in bright neon colours.
8. Experiment With Different Materials
If you want to take your fashion photography in a new direction, black light and UV photography is an excellent way to go.
Certain materials respond well to ultraviolet light. Turn on your black light, and the clothes start to glow. Not all materials glow in the dark, certainly not wool or cotton. But some artificial fabrics do light up in black light.
You can also buy clothes that are designed to glow under black and UV light. You can combine fluorescent clothes with body paint and makeup for intense UV fashion photos.
9. Make Yourself a Drink
You may be a bit surprised to know that a gin and tonic glows in the dark. Or at least it’ll glow under a black light.
It’s the tonic water, not the gin, that glows in the black light. In a UV setting, a glass of tonic water looks like a serving of plutonium juice.
Using tonic under black lights is an excellent trick if you’re working in food and drink photography. You can also use it for product photography. Then, once the shoot is over, you can re-hydrate yourself.
Black light photography is fun and experimental. With some standard digital camera equipment and a few accessories, you can create unique photos packed with colour. The luminescent colours are electric and vibrate out of the darkness.
You can be as experimental as you want in your darkened studio. With a black light bulb and some neon paint, you can create images and tell stories. You can renew old photography styles or you can create something brand new.
Check out The Magical Photography Spellbook for more inspiration for your black light photography!
The images in this post are provided by depositphoto.com.