How to create light leaks with your DSLR & add colour to your images | Creative Photography Techniques

 

The other weekend it was really rainy. It’s the first wet weekend we’ve had in a while, and so it was the perfect excuse to stay inside and play games and get our craft on. There were many games of Yahtzee and Pictionary played, and lots of beautiful artworks and crafty things made.

While going through the craft box, my eldest daughter Punky found a packet of coloured straws that have been in there for a few years and decided she could make a musical instrument out of them. She got to work with the sticky-tape, scissors and a packet of shiny jewels from Officeworks, and created something that has kept her entertained ever since. This is what she made…

 
 
The ‘musical instrument’ my daughter made using old coloured straws she found in the craft box at home.

The ‘musical instrument’ my daughter made using old coloured straws she found in the craft box at home.

 
 

My girls are constantly inspiring me in all sorts of ways, but they’re creativity and fearlessness in trying new things & techniques is what inspires me most. While admiring Punky’s instrument an idea started stirring in the back of my brain… I could create something similar that would be really cool to shoot with.

So I grabbed the packet of leftover straws and went to work.

I separated the straws by colour, and then laid out 24 of them side-by-side. I grabbed the clear sticky-tape and taped them together, being careful not to get tape over the bendy bits. Once I was done it was time to test out my creation and see if it would work to infuse the colour and faux-light leaks I was imagining.

 
 
Bendy straws work best as you can move the ends around giving you more control over where the colour appears in your images and more flexibility with framing your subject

Bendy straws work best as you can move the ends around giving you more control over where the colour appears in your images and more flexibility with framing your subject

 
 

By holding my straw creation beside my lens so the bendy ends were poking in to the frame, I was able to capture some lovely colours & effects. It was just the thing for creating interest & colour, especially on another grey weekend with nothing but flat light all round.

 
 
How to create light leaks with your DSLR Kylie Purtell.jpg
 
 

You’ll want to be shooting fairly wide when you use the straws, as it’s the shallow depth of field that allows the ends of the straws to be blurred where they enter your frame and give the light-leak effect. My example images below were all shot at apertures between f/2.2 & f/3.2. When you shoot at larger f/stops the straws become more prominent and lose the light-leak effect, however I’m sure you could create some interesting images regardless.

 
 
How to create a light-leak effect with your DSLR Kylie Purtell copy.jpg
 
 

The girls and I had a lot of fun in the backyard twirling and taking photos, and I think the results speak for themselves… coloured straws are the perfect way to add a little colour to your images, and the effect is similar to what you would get with traditional light leaks on film. I now have something fun to add a bit of colour to my future client sessions and personal work, and I’ve saved a packet of straws from ending up in landfill as I know I will use my straws for years to come! My next mission is to look for more ways to repurpose some of the other plastic I find around the house, and I’m sure the girls and I are going to have a lot of fun coming up with new ways to incorporate our creations into photos!

 
 
 
 

I hope this gives you some new inspiration to add some creativity to your photography using items you can find around your home. If you don’t have any coloured straws lying around your house, please consider asking your friends or family if they have any sitting in their cupboard that you can have, rather than buying them new from the supermarket. Or consider what other plastic you may already have lying around the house that you could use to create a similar effect in your images.

If you make your own coloured straw images I’d love to see them! Feel free to share them in comments, or tag me in your creations on Instagram. You can find me at http://www.instagram.com/kyliepurtell

Happy creating!