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Black Light Photography

January 23rd, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Blacklight Portrait

Black Light Portrait with Strobe

I did a couple photoshoots this week using black lights combined with strobes to create some trippy neon glowing effects. Also, as in this photo, I was able to get a beautiful surreal glow.

Photographically, black lights are basically low powered continuous lights so I used the same techniques that I would use for tungsten. But the fun thing about black lights is that fluorescent paint and objects give off a glow and become light sources!


  • Work with a makeup artist who has fluorescent makeup and body paint. Check the makeup under a black light to see how much it glows. The makeup for the photo on the left was done by Catriona Armour.
  • Bring neon fluorescent clothes and props to the shoot. Glowsticks work too. I found some neon tulle fabric that worked great.
  • I used four 48" fluorescent tubes to provide enough light. They were available in some hardware and party supply stores, but I had to look around.
  • You can go with either long shutter speeds or high ISO - both have advantages and disadvantages. The long shutter speeds risk motion blur and the high ISO shots can be noisy. I found that for my camera ISO 400 worked well, but different cameras perform differently so experiment.
  • Try using a strobe with a long shutter speed by setting your camera's flash to second curtain sync. You will get some trippy effects by moving or zooming the camera or having the model move around.
  • The black light is dark blue-violet, but you can add other colors by using a backburst and gelling the strobe.
  • Have fun and experiment!

Check out some more of my black light photos on Flickr:

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