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  • Katelin Kinney

Light Obsession

Hello. My name is Katelin and I’m a lightbulb addict ;)

So if you’ve seen some of my work, chances are you’ve noticed that lightbulbs keep popping up fairly frequently. Maybe it can be repetitive, but I try to avoid that and bring something new to each photo. Sometimes I’ll paint in the light to give more of a cartoon/illustration look to it and other times I’ll shoot the lightbulb while it’s actually lit.

When painting in light I will paint white or yellow on multiple layers and alter the blending modes of those layers depending on the situation. Sometimes I use soft light, other times I’ll use screen- more often than not it’s a combination. It’s also important to vary the size and softness of the paint marks on those layers. For instance one layer will use a very large and very soft brush so the glow reaches far outside the edge of the lightbulb. Another layer will have a smaller and sharper brush that traces just the outer edge of the lightbulb. This variation in light tends to look more natural and blend better with the environment.

It’s also important when painting in the light to pay attention to the filament inside the bulb. I do sometimes take creative liberty and paint a glowing light on more areas than would realistically be lit. However, I do this purely for aesthetics. If I’m painting in light that isn’t naturally there I might as well bring light to all the areas that I think make the photo seem more balanced. After all, we're in fantasy land here, so lightbulbs can look any way we want them to!

If I’m shooting with the bulb already lit then a couple things need to happen. First the exposure has to be dark enough that I can see the details of the bulb and not just one glowing dot. Secondly if the bulb is screwed in to a power source then I’ll need to edit in the base of the bulb later.

So why do I gravitate towards lightbulbs? Well I think there are a few reasons. One is that I’ve always loved glass. My apartment is filled with glass balls, vases, and little doo-dads of all sorts. Glass is timeless and elegant and naturally warps the reality of the scene you see through it.

Secondly I love the sense of glowing light. It’s magical and soft and is a total separation from the bright overhead florescent lighting we are used to now in our culture. It’s calming and reminiscent of older times with candlelit streets and rooms.

Lastly I have struggled with getting the proper exposure for years. I’m constantly in search of that ultimate lighting- the perfect ambiance, detail, and exposure. Not only lighting a situation, but shooting a light source WITHIN that situation is an extra challenge and great lighting exercise. I don’t believe I’ve ever gotten the perfect exposure and perfectly lit image yet, but that just pushes me to keep on trying! So chances are my lightbulb fetish won't be ending anytime soon, not until I think I've mastered it. :)

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