When I am teaching my class I have a number of different exercises to practice different techniques with the camera. When we get to shutter speed and are talking about slow shutter we work with light drawing. It is amazing all the Ooos and Ahhs that the students exclaim as soon as we do the first one.
I don't explain to them what we are doing until after the first photo. I have them put their cameras on the tripod, give them the settings (ISO 100, f/8, 15 seconds shutter on manual), then I have them set to manual focus and focus on me where I am going to stand. Then we turn the lights in the room off and I give them a countdown to hit the shutter release. Then I draw. When they look at the results and see what is on the screen they are just totally amazed. From that point on we take turns with who will draw.
This is an easy and fun project for learning slow shutter speed and what it does. So far I have done all my pictures with a single light and a single color. One of these days I am going to try multiple colors and lights. I think I can do it. It will be interesting. What I have learned is that when I get ready I need to mentally think of a sheet of paper in front of me. My body is the reference point for where the middle of the paper is. Then as I draw I try to imagine the ink on the page in front of me. This has allowed me to start to get pretty good at putting stuff up that actually looks like something. I think if I can keep the mental image good enough I might even be able to switch lights to start to add more detail and colors in. I guess I have the next post. Time to go light shopping.
What is really amazing with this is it is something you can do at family gatherings as well. It will work with any camera that has a manual setting where you can set the camera properly. You will also need manual focus or the camera will just totally freak out with nothing real to focus on. All bridge cameras and DSLRs should work. Many point and shoots will work but not all. You will also need a tripod or a table that is just the right height or something else steady to put the camera on. Hey, this is a great thing to do with that tripod you get for Christmas from your family reading my recent past post on gift ideas.
So see what kind of creativity your family has. I bet the teens will like it the most. The light does not have to be a lot. I used the "flashlight" on my Droid 2 camera phone for these. I am planning on picking up a few of those cheap $2.00 LED flashlights from the store for future attempts. Then I am going to get some colored cellophane or some colored strobe gels to tape over some of them for different colors to draw with.
If you create something and post it on line make sure to post the link in the comments below. It would be interesting to see what others come up with. And I think for the next post I am going to try to do a more colorful version of the Christmas tree up above. It will be interesting.