Merced Camera Club, Getting The Picture
Getting The Picture

This is a monthly (or so) feature of our site, in which Merced Camera Club members provide their thoughts
about the creation of some of our favorite images.

August, 2011

"Light Bulb" -- Brian Ratzlaff

How itís done:

One of our club's "On Assignment" competition subjects in 2009 was "Light Bulb." So how does one go about making a simple light bulb photogenic? At first I had a vision of an old porcelain base hanging from a dust covered roof joist by almost thread bare cloth covered wires. I decided to Google "light bulb photos" to see if there were better ideas than mine. That's when I came across this idea and an explanation of how it was done.

The first thing I needed was a visually simple bulb base/socket. I chose the porcelain base mounted on a scrap 2x4. Sandwiched between the bulb base and 2x4 was a poster sized piece of black poster stock. This hid the wood base and wires, plus provided a clean backdrop that contrasted with the bright bulb. I set this up on my garage work bench and focused my camera on the bulb, closing down aperture enough for good depth of field. Doing this at night in my dark garage added to the effect.

I used 40 watt incandescent bulbs. I grabbed the glass of the bulb just above the metal base with a set of channel lock pliers and broke the bulb. One has to take care to not destroy the tungsten filament while doing this, or get hurt by the imploding glass. I did this with a towel shielding the bulb.

Now the fun begins! I had set my camera on manual metering and adjusted it to a bulb that was lit prior to breaking the glass globe. Camera was put on burst mode (5 Frames per second) and garage lights turned off. My wife Jan plugged in the light when I signaled her and I simply held down shutter for about two seconds. The smoke show only peaks for a fraction of a second and we went through about 7-8 bulbs. I picked out 2-3 of the best images and performed a little Photoshop on the best one which is the shot you see here.

Camera: Canon 50D (on a sturdy tripod)
Shutter Speed: 1/500
Aperture: F6.7
ISO: 800
Focal Length: 70mm with an APS-C sensor

The Birdie

Getting The Picture Archives


"Patriotism," Tom Frazier


"Baby Blue Eyes," Robert Dayton


"Stark Existence," Jim Cunningham


"The Old Barn" -Carlene Cunningham


"Dance" -Sam Shaw


"Snow Geese Flight Pattern" -Lloyd Bever


"Wildflower Trail" -Floyd Hopper


"Sunflower" -Andy Tolsma


"Dramatic Bridal Veil Falls" -Karen Campbell

Home