Projection Photography the Best Form of Painting With Light

Pure photography using only light and film to create special effects, even with colour reversal film

without any digital software, or darkroom chemistry!

By John Neville Cohen


A lot of information and examples can be found on the Internet about ‘Painting with Light’ and they are all only about moving lights within a prolonged exposure. There are also a lot of examples about ‘Projection Photography’, but these are limited to the idea of simply projecting patterns, or text onto people, or buildings.

My own form of ‘Projection Photography’ was discovered in the early 1960’s, and this pure form of special effect photography provides far more opportunities and is so much more sophisticated. The magic lantern truly lives up to its earlier name, as it really provides the best method of painting with light!

So much that is possible digitally such as: image blending, masking, distorting, changing colours, and adding textures can be achieved with the projector. In addition, images can easily be manipulated with crystals and reflections too.

Since there is growing interest in analogue photography, these original special effect techniques, are now proving to be of interest again, as most of the possibilities available digitally, are surprisingly also possible with film, and all my creative photographs were taken on Kodachrome (the film had to be processed by Kodak).

I did not always project onto a flat screen, but instead I projected images onto many other things that were to become the subject of the picture, for example I have created photographs of projected images on a butterfly wing, a feather, a shell, a flower, a leaf, and even on to the edges of the pages of a book.

Images (transparencies and negatives, both in colour and black and white) were blended too, by using more than one projector. These techniques enabled the freedom to create amazing new photographs, without any digital software, or darkroom chemistry.

My most famous, unique, and historical Kodachrome transparency is ‘Spirit of Spring’ consisting of a negative of a tulip combined with a portrait. This was the first ever Kodachrome transparency that had both a positive and a negative image, on the same emulsion.

'Spirit of Spring' by John Neville Cohen

Spirit of Spring

This photograph won the London Salon Trophy in 1967 and there were over twenty major one-man exhibitions of about 70 of my photographs the following year (many were organised by Kodak in the USA and UK). At that time, my photography was described as ground-breaking!

There are many more award-winning special effect photographs on my website as well as detailed information in ‘The Magic Lantern’ section, describing exactly how anyone can do it.

"...regarded as one of Britain's most original photographers." The Times. 16th December 1967 The Times Diary.

"A woman's face was exquisitely metamorphosed with the cup of a yellow tulip - a Femme - Fleur Picasso might have perpetrated had he taken to photography."
Arts Revue.
11th Oct 1969, Vol XXI No 20.

"Very marketable as well as interesting and adventurous in themselves with congratulations."
Cecil Beaton C.B.E. 8th March 1968

"… extends the boundaries of the possible in photography and shows us all how we can do so too."
Sir George Pollock
Bt., M.A. (Former President of The Royal Photographic Society 1978).

The Magic Lantern

[Logo Image]

Exhibitions & Awards

Details of one man exhibitions, reviews and awards

Introduction to The Author
Sir George F. Pollock Bt., M.A., F.R.P.S., F.R.S.A.

Preface & Acknowledgements

Each chapter is listed below so that you can jump straight to any you wish.
But to begin, for the first time, just click on '
Preface' and continue from here.

 What Exactly is Needed, by John Neville Cohen

No Darkroom - No Computer Required

What Exactly is Needed?

Transparencies on a Light Box by John Neville Cohen

Page 1 (of 10 pages).

Projection Photography

The Magic Lantern Article

"How to"
by John N. Cohen M.inst.D.

 Adding Texture by John Neville Cohen

Page 2.

Adding Texture

Portrait on Fabrics by John Neville Cohen Texture

Page 2.

Adding Texture

Portrait on a Feather, by John Neville Cohen

Page 2.

Adding Texture

Photographing Reflections of projected images, by John Neville Cohen

Page 3.

Distortion & Reflections

Distortions of projected images by John Neville Cohen

Page 3.

Distortion & Reflections

Projecting with Crystals

Page 4.

Crystal Patterns

Masking and how the  screen becomes the Subject.

Page 5.

The Subject Becomes The Screen

Using Colour negatives as well as transparencies

Page 6.


Blending with two projectors and masking

Page 7.

Two Projectors and Blending

Blending with two projectors

Page 7.

Two Projectors and Blending

Masking with two projectors

Page 7.

Two Projectors and Blending

Spirit of Spring

Page 8.

Spirit of Spring and Other Examples

Blending colour with black and white images

Page 8.

Another Example

A portrait with a crystal, and an image of splashed paint

Page 8.

Another Example

Using colour filters to blend.

Page 9.

Filter Blending and More Projectors

Three projectors to blend even more.

Page 9.

Filter Blending and More Projectors

Rear projection plus an image projected on to a leaf.

Page 10.

Rear Projection and Inspired Accidents

To The Portfolio

The poetic portfolio consists of an exhibition of 75 photographs.

All created by using these methods from my transparencies, please note the photographs in the portfolio pages are at very low resolution.

To see better examples please have a look at my 'Painting with Light' section.

John Neville Cohen, projection photography, light painting, special effects, painting with light, film, Kodachrome, photography, portraits, analogue photography, creative photography, artistic photography, visual arts, photographer, technique, conceptual, surreal, dramatic, fantasy, expressionist, art, artworks, contemporary, impressionist, limited edition, pictures, Photo Expo, Kodak.

Asian antiques, Limited edition prints, photography, Jacey Cinema history, Jensen CV8 – 541S, Postage Stamp Album, Netsuke, Snuff Bottles, Jade

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To John Neville Cohen's dedicated site for Painting with Light Limited Edition (only 8 of each picture), fine art prints for sale.

Juggling a Number of Hats

My Life's Experiences and Business Ventures

John Neville Cohen

Articles for New Collectors
(Author John Neville Cohen)
 Invaluable help for collectors of Asian antiques. How to buy and avoid the most common mistakes, when buying antiques, particularly netsuke, inro, snuff bottles and jade.

The Cohen Collection  
Asian antiques (645 colour photos of fine Japanese and Chinese antique; netsuke, inro, ojime, snuff bottles, pendants & jade carvings) all fully described by renowned experts Neil K. Davey + Robert Hall. An essential reference work for the serious collector that is beautiful and very easy to use.

Joseph Cohen & The History of Jacey Cinemas Ltd 
Information on our family business created by my Grandfather Joseph Cohen.

British Classic Jensen Cars  
(Author John Neville Cohen) Very informative about the rare Jensen 541S & CV8 sports cars, particularly about the little known superb Jensen 541S manual drive, a classic car with lots of photos.

Copyright Free or Royalty Free Stock Photographs  
These are exceptional value 18MB photographs that will not date!

A 'Special Effects' Course  
(Author John Neville Cohen)
 Amazing to see what can be done in pure  photography without any expensive equipment, computer, or darkroom.  All is achieved with a projector - the magical 'Magic Lantern'.  All details of this extraordinary technique is clearly explained and all for free!

Poetic Portfolio  
Fascinating photographic exhibition of 'The Magic Lantern' award winning 'special effect' photographs by John Neville Cohen.

La Alcazaba Apartment in Puerto Banus For Sale 
Outstanding 3 double bedroom apartment, all on one level, for sale at La Alcazaba, Puerto Banus, Marbella, Spain.

Investment Opportunities  
Opportunities, Property items for Sale.

Commercial Photography  
Professional photography and graphic design by Actuality photodigital.

Postage Stamps For Little People  
See all the pages and paintings for a unique way of collecting stamps.

The Planning & Paintings for The Album  
Shows the first sketches and paintings and an amusing letter.

Not So Distant Famous Relatives of the Bind Side of John's Family.
Marilyn Monroe, Sir Michael Balcon, Arthur Miller, Cecil Day-Lewis & Daniel Day- Lewis 

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