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All Hallow’s Eve: it’s the holiday that summons our creative jojo powers from the beyond.
That’s why we’re harnessing our Halloween-infused excitement into a truly awesome photo project that our pal Ken Setzer taught us: glow-in-the-dark photograms!
This mystifying project will transform your very own photos into spooky glow-in-the-dark wonders and will even get you back into the dark room…if you dare!
Mua ha ha. Ha.
Why Is it cool?
You know how you “charge” a glow-in-the-dark surface by holding it up to a light?
Well you can hold it up to a monitor, and charge it with whatever image is on your screen! Photograph the result before it fades away, and you’ve captured your image in an eerie, otherworldy, ectoplasmic beauty.
What do I need?:
Step 1: Prepare Your Glow-In-the-Dark Surface
If you decide to go the glow-in-the-dark paint route, you’ll need to paint an 8×10″ piece of cardboard using a paintbrush and GITD paint. We recommend a cardboard that has a super smooth surface. You can also use any smooth object to paint onto, though.
We got a nice glowy surface with about 6 coats. (You’ll probably want the paint to dry a little between each coat.) Let the paint dry completely before you start to make photograms.
If you decide to go the glow-in-the-dark sheet route, you’re ready to go! Move on to Step 2.
*TIP*: Keep your cardboard or sheet in a book or face down in order to keep it unexposed to light. This will prepare it to be “charged” with your image.
Step 2: Get Your “Dark Room” Ready
It’s just like a dark room! (Exciting!!!)
First, open the image of your choice on your computer. You’ll lose detail in your photogram, so pick something with good contrast and a strong, clear subject.
Size it on your screen so it’s as close as possible to the size of your GITD surface. Also, turn your monitor up to full brightness.
Second, make sure you have these things ready to go: your GITD surface and your camera ready with the correct settings. (We kept ours on a high ISO, flash turned off, and left our exposure on automatic. Tips on focusing in Step 4.)
Step 3: Turn Off the Lights
The only light should be coming from your monitor.
Place your GITD surface directly on your monitor, on the image you want to glow-ify. Hold it steady to avoid blur, for about 30 seconds.
We used artist tape (a low-stick tape) to keep our image extra steady.
Focusing may be tricky in the dark.
Automatic focus sometimes works, but if you have trouble, try focusing on the spot where you’ll be placing your GITD surface before you start the process and keep your camera in the same position throughout (for example, keep your camera on a tripod).
It may take a couple of tries to get the right exposure, also. Adjust your aperture and shutter speed if you have those controls on your camera. Keep in mind, if it doesn’t seem bright or contrasty enough, a photo editing program will do the trick.
Once you finish your first exposure, you’ll get in a rhythm of exposing new images…you might spend all night in your “dark room” o’ glow!
Step 5: Get ‘em on your computer
Crop out the areas outside the GITD image. Lighten, and increase contrast with a curves or levels adjustment.
Your glow-in-the-dark photograms are ready to share with your friends online, to print out and send as freaky Halloween postcards, or to simply creep yourself out on those spooky nights home alone.
Experiment, and you should be good to glow!
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