Find out more about photographer Claire Harps who will be bringing a monthly instalment of light painting tutorials to the Photography News website. 

How did you become interested in light painting?
I am a Tour Guide at the Victoria Tunnel under Newcastle upon Tyne. During tours in the dark tunnel I began to find that they were getting delayed by people trying to take photos in the dark, so I decided to try out a photography tour. We booked four slots into the tunnel schedule and I recruited a friend to help.

The first tour was a disaster, four people turned up armed with iPhones. On the second tour a gentleman called Chris Anderson came along and wanted to do some light painting, I had no idea what light painting was and let him run the session. By the end of two hours watching Chris I was hooked but still didn’t have a camera of my own. For the rest of the four tours booked Chris came along and did more light painting, from here we set up a Facebook group called North East Light Painters and then light painting became a regular event in the Tunnel. At this point I bought a second-hand Canon EOS 500D with a kit lens which I still use today. 

Do you have a favourite subject to focus on?
I enjoy all aspects of light painting but particularly enjoy portraits and simple shapes. I love locations underground or with lots of local history and I also enjoy outdoor shoots, especially at this time of year when the nights draw in and you can get out nice and early. 

What's your go to technique?
There are so many techniques I am not sure I could pick just one and often combining techniques I find gives very special results! A favourite is combining stencils with other techniques. My all-time favourite picture (so far) is a light tree [see below] that I created with stencils that I had made myself and a short light wand to make the trunk.

How easy it is to get to grips with light painting? 
Anyone can light paint if they have a camera to capture their drawings! if I can do it anyone can! Once you know the basics there are no limits as to what you can achieve with practice.

Are there any light painting techniques that you haven’t tried yet but want to?
I have recently been seeing some exceptional camera rotation pictures and I am lucky enough to have experience my good friend Tom Hill do some amazing camera rotations! I think I am going to have to go shopping for the equipment I need to do these myself!

If there was no limits I would love to combine my love of travel with light painting and go to New Zealand to shoot some simple light painting designs in amazing scenery.

What can expect to see from your upcoming blogs? 
I am greatly looking forward to doing this series of blogs which will cover everything you will need to get you started with light painting, from basic equipment and techniques to more advanced Light Painting techniques for you all to test out and practice with. **Warning** Light Painting can be a very addictive art form and I'm looking forward to seeing all your results!

Claire Harps is based in Newcastle upon Tyne and has been light painting for about three years. She runs light painting workshops throughout the UK and also for the RPS and spoke at this year's Photography Show on the live stage. For more details visit Claire's Facebook page. 

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