A Single Light Bulb

I decided to try a new project. Influenced and inspired by Kevin Clarke’s The Red Couch Project, the idea behind this project was to photograph a single object in multiple places. I decided to use a light bulb for my object and got to work trying to figure out how to make the pictures the most interesting. I thought it would be best to light the light bulb and take long exposure pictures in order to get the most awe inspiring pictures. As I only had about two weeks to complete this project, I had to think of how to build the light in the least time possible.

The problems started with powering the light bulb. I knew there was a way to power it, but researching that was much more difficult that I had anticipated. I began by thinking of how I could power it through an outlet, but I determined that this wouldn’t work very well because I would be outside for some of the pictures. I thought about possibly using a car power adapter to solve this problem, but I realized that it would be too difficult. I ended up following this tutorial to open the light bulb and replace the insides with a high power LED and a cell battery. I painted the outside of the light bulb with Glass paint. The smell was absolutely terrible and I’m sure it wasn’t all that great for me to be breathing it in.

Some glass paints are labeled with this warning: “This product contains a chemical known to the state of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm”. There are other glass paints that are considered “non-toxic”.  If this is of concern to you, look for those instead.

After I set up the light bulb, I set up my shots with the camera on a tripod. I got the focus, turned off the lights and took the shots. The first shot I decided to start with was a picture of a bouquet of flowers with a fireplace in the background. I set up the camera with a shutter speed of 2 seconds and set the aperture at f/1.8 with a 400 iso. While the shot was being taken, I lit the leaves around the light with another LED in my hands. The resulting pictures were all slightly different, but I liked this one the most.


A Single Light Bulb - Flowers and Fire


My second favorite picture involved me taking a picture over my brother’s shoulder. I decided that it would look really good if I could get a shot where the light bulb was in his hand and it was lighting up his face. The problem was that my LED was barely bright enough to be seen through the thick paint on the bulb, let alone light up his face from about a foot away. I ended up using the extra LED I had once again to light up his face from the side. The biggest difficulty with this shot was getting the camera high enough. My brother is 6 feet 2 inches and my tripod really only reaches about 5 3/4 feet. I ended up putting the tripod half on his chair in his room and the other half on his desk. I was pretty much crammed in the corner trying to light up his face while keeping the light from getting into the lens itself. It was definitely worth the half hour or so it took to get the right amount of light on his face, though.

 A Single Light Bulb - Held in Hands

Overall, I don’t believe that all of the shots are perfect and if I wanted to, I could definitely go back and make some of them better and replace others. I had a great time and got to do something that is rarely done. Anyways, many of the other shots of light bulbs on the internet that are lit seemingly without a source of power didn’t seem real or possible, so I decided to do it myself and I am very happy with how it all turned out.


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