The Magical Magic Lantern and Painting with Light

Aug 6


John N. Cohen

John N. Cohen

  • Share this article on Facebook
  • Share this article on Twitter
  • Share this article on Linkedin

'The Magic Lantern' really lives up to its name. By projecting images on to other things and then photographing the results John Cohen created his own form of 'Painting with Light'. He shows for free how he created his amazing top award winning pictures.

John invented his own form of 'Painting with Light' (a very different and original 'special effect technique),The Magical Magic Lantern and Painting with Light Articles without using any computer, darkroom chemicals, or expensive equipment to create his unique top international award winning pictures.

His technique is pure photography on film and has nothing to do with moving lights to make light graffiti, or of lighting specific parts of a dark scene with a long exposure.  What it does involve is the photographing of projected images on to other things.

John has found that the projector really lives up to its earlier name - 'The Magic Lantern', as what can be done with projectors for photographers really is magical!

One of his best known pictures was titled 'Spirit of Spring', this was the first ever picture taken on Kodachrome (transparency film) that included both a negative of a tulip and a positive image of a girl's portrait, all on the same emulsion!

No one knew, at the time, how this could be possible, as it was created well before anyone had the use of computers.

This little known technique involves the photographing of projected images, sometimes; he projected his image through a crystal, or reflected the projected image off various reflective surfaces, or through coloured cellophane, the projected image could be a negative (colour or black and white) and he even used three or four projectors all together at times.  His chosen screen often became the subject of the picture, John has photographed projected images on to a shell, a flower, a butterfly wing, even the edges of the pages of a book!

His freely available article titled 'The Magic Lantern' fully describes and explains exactly how anyone and everyone can do it.  'The Magic Lantern' can be found at: -

Digital camera users could also use most of his techniques, as these special effects have certain qualities that are a little different from those achievable by digital manipulation.

'Spirit of Spring' won The London Salon Trophy in 1967; this was then the first time a colour picture was deemed worthy of this much coveted trophy, for it had only ever been awarded before for Black and White photographs, John was also the youngest member to have won it.

There have been over 20 One-Man Exhibitions of John's photography (many were sponsored by Kodak) at major venues; 2 were held in New York, 4 in London, The Edinburgh Festival and many other UK and USA cities.

Favourable reviews and comments were received about John's pictures from; Cecil Beaton C.B.E., Sir William Russel Flint R.A., Lady Clementine Spencer-Churchill, Sir George F. Pollock Bt., M.A., F.R.P.S., F.R.S.A., 'The Times' and 'Arts Review' to name a few!

John is currently creating new pictures "I use pure photography to express ideas, or thoughts, rather than reality.  I trust that my pictures will intrigue, cause interest and be appreciated as very original art works that make quite a statement."