“What starts off as an idea ends up being an image you can be proud of.”

Sivu Matsiliza first got his hands on a camera when he was put on “photo duty” at his cousin’s 21st birthday. He quickly found that he enjoyed capturing special moments and with some practice also exploring new techniques and possibilities. What drives this eager young photographer is capturing a second in a person’s life knowing that all they have left is the photo that you took.

He’s currently working on a higher certificate in photography at Vega School of Brand Leadership and it is here that he learned more about the photographic technique called “painting with light”. After doing some research, he came across photographer Eric Pare’s work which inspired him to generate a few workable ideas.

Sivu’s gear and settings

Sivu uses a Nikon D750 camera body with a Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art Series lens on a tripod. He sits his model down and adjusts his camera settings with an ISO of 250, f/5.6 and a shutter speed of 4 sec. On the post-processing side he increases exposure, adds some more contrast and brings up the shadows. He also adds more clarity to the image.

Sivu talks about his first “painting with light” experience…

“The fact that I wasn’t wearing dark clothing was definitely a mistake I won’t repeat. It was my first time experimenting with ‘light painting’ and I soon realised that watching a YouTube tutorial and actually doing the shoot is a totally different ball game. I held an LED light in one hand and its battery in the other, which is one of the reasons I got weird streaks at the top of my images. It took about an hour before I started heading towards the right direction where I got sharp images.”

This is only the start for this talented young South African. He dreams of starting a photo club in his hometown eGcuwa in the Eastern Cape where he can “teach and inspire less privileged young black kids the skill of photography and eventually host exhibitions where they can showcase their work”.

Sivu paints with light. This photo has a gold tone and shows his friend Linda surrounded by a light halo.
Sivu is painting with light
Sivu is painting with light