Light painting with the SX-70 camera

Light painting with your SX-70 is easy with this tutorial. Read the tips and tricks to get good results. 

The SX-70 is a remarkable piece of engineering. It measures the light with its photocell and calculates a shutter speed for any lighting situation. The longest time that the shutter opens in complete darkness is 14 seconds. For this to happen, you can either block the light meter with your finger, or simply tape something opaque over it and this will result in maximum exposure. This tutorial is meant for this exposure time (14 seconds), as this is normal for all SX-70 cameras. 

What you need

1 SX-70 camera and Impossible films for SX-70
1 tripod or anything to keep your camera stable
1 torch or your phone flash

Color filters to place on the torch
1 cable release to start the exposure from a distance 

How to do it

Step 1 Put your SX-70 on a tripod and make sure that it is stable

Step 2 If you have one, plug in your cable release

Step 3 Cover the light meter with a sticker (if you aren’t planning to stay close to the camera) or your finger (if you plan to stand behind the camera)

 Step 4 Position your camera and focus on your subject

 Step 5 Turn the lights off. The room where you are shooting should be completely dark for best results

Step 6 Press the button on your camera or on the cable release. The shutter will open and will stay open for 14 seconds

 Step 7 Turn the flash of your phone of your torch on

 Step 8 Start painting with light! You can either expose your subject with the light facing the subject or face the camera with the light to create light lines and possibly write something. You can also use filters to change the colors

 Step 9 You can also create images with different expositions, for example of a person with many arms or expose the same person twice. To realize this, expose your subject once to the light with your torch facing the subject. Turn the torch off, ask your subject to move in the dark and expose the subject again in an other position

 Step 10 Once the 14 seconds have passed, the shutter will close and the camera will eject the photo

 Step 11 Voila! You have successfully completed the fantastic technique of light painting with an SX-70. Have fun, be creative and don’t forget to share your results on the Impossible Gallery!


How to increase the long exposure time
To increase the exposure time on your SX-70, you can try opening the camera door mid-exposure. This effectively turns your camera off with the shutter open exposing your film. The advantage to this trick is you can take extended exposures in very dark settings. You can then enjoy light painting for as long as you want!

All SX-70 cameras models have different settings when it comes to long exposures, and that’s important for this trick. In order to see if your SX-70 allows the opening of the camera door mid-exposure, try it with an empty film pack. Be warned that this technique is not guaranteed to be consistent and you shouldn’t do it if you’re not comfortable with it, but it can produce amazing images.


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