Hosting a Night Time Party? Bring out the Light Stencils!

Hosting a Night Time Party? Bring out the Light Stencils!

Sonia Zjawinski
May 21, 2010

As many of you already know, one of the great parts of hosting a party is gathering photographic evidence of a good time. Since the majority of shindigs happen at night, most snap shots are done with a flash, which, it turns out, can do much more than light up your subjects. Light stencils are a photographic trick that use cardboard, cellophane, and a slave flash to create beautiful and intriguing artifacts within night time photography. Here's how to make your own unique party favors.

You'll need a thin piece of cardboard (like from a cereal box) an x-acto knife, opaque cellophane, and a detachable camera flash. You can either follow Flickr user tdub303's tutorial, which takes you through step-by-step instructions on a simple set-up that places a flash bulb roughly 7 to 11 inches behind the stencil or, if you want a cleaner look, you can build a lighting rig around the stencil like Flickr user truemarmalade did.

He sets up his stencils to clip onto his lighting rig, limiting the amount of light that escapes around the stencil. He went so far as to create a slot in his rig for homemade color diffusers, allowing him to create different color light stencils, such as the gems above.

Unfortunately, the major drawback is that light stencils require long exposures -- think 30 seconds or more -- so, if you set this up at a gathering, your guests may end up feeling like they're partying like it's 1839 rather than 1999 2010. But hey! We all must suffer for the ultimate Facebook photo, no?

Images: truemarmalade

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