Striped Photographs Created Entirely In-Camera by Painting the Set


At first glance, these photos by London-based photographer Benedict Morgan don’t seem like anything special. That is, until you find out that what you’re looking at hasn’t been touched by Photoshop at all.

That’s right, the photo at the top and the image below both came out this way in-camera after Morgan and his team spent hours painstakingly painting the set to create the gray stripes. The series is called Painted Stripes, and in an interview with It’s Nice That, Morgan explained his inspiration:

The idea came from the process you do in the dark room when exposing different sections of the test strip to get the correct exposure. You end up with a striped image, each stripe darker than the next.

So in these works instead of each line being exposed differently, they have been painted with different tones of grey. To achieve the test strip effect, the lines needed to be perfectly straight, so they were painted in perspective over the set giving the illusion that they are different levels of exposure.


As you might imagine, getting the painting right was no easy task — which is part of the reason there are only two photos in the series. When we asked him about his methods, he explained how he managed to get the lines so straight.

[The method] involv[ed] a lot of masking tape and mixing different tones of grey. The way to achieve the straight lines in perspective first involves the camera being in the correct position.

By using a large format 5×4 camera, I was able to take off the digital back and stick a piece of acetate with black lines on to the ground glass. Then by shining a 1k light though the camera it projected the lines perfectly over the set giving a guide to work when painting.

Here’s a behind the scenes photo that shows the hotel room scene from a little further out:


These kinds of images are Morgan’s strong suit. His entire portfolio (which we highly recommend you check out) is filled with similar work — sometimes surreal, often geometric, and always very structured and clean.

To see more of Morgan’s work, head over to his website by clicking here.

(via It’s Nice That)

Image credits: Photographs by Benedict Morgan and used with permission.

  • JerseyJosie

    Mr. Morgan seems to have way too much time on his hands.

  • quericoeselpan

    Is it just me or this is an unbelievable waste of time?

  • Aaron

    Looks like a test print from a darkroom. Might have saved him some time. What has photography come to when you preface something with “hey it’s not Photoshop”?

  • Guilherme Costa

    I can see you know nothing about ART!

  • beautox


  • Chris

    I don’t know about a waste of time, but, they are definitely the weakest shots in his portfolio.

  • quericoeselpan

    Yeah, I guess that’s why. Silly me… I forgot art is the answer to everything!

  • Carl Meyer

    Masking tape, acrilyc painting and an airbrush; not very difficult even for someone with no experience using those tools and hardly time consuming when compared to arranging large sets of small objects by hand or waiting for nature to work it’s magic.

  • Jubsrar

    Hardly art, laser level anyone? Easy!

  • MS

    This is dope!

  • wolfgangr5150

    O my, it’s ART.. Well art to you Costa is a waste of time to others. You have your opinion and they have theirs, get over it.

  • MikeAlgar42

    Sticking two people in the frame would have made this more interesting, and only mildly.

  • Zos Xavius

    Oh I think dope was involved alright.

  • Lachesis

    Couldn’t you just use a transparent sheet with lines on it and shoot through it? And I don’t see how this was done ‘in camera’. In camera is when it is edited to look like that in the camera, this is just a normal photograph.

  • jrconner

    Mr. Morgan’s technical expertise is impressive. But I would have generated the effect using Photoshop.

  • zeptom

    And still he did use Photoshop CS6 on a mac even tho it’s probably just to scan his analog film/print into the computer…

  • Peter Fogarty

    The article’s first sentence sums it up.

  • harumph

    That was my first thought as well. A model, who wasn’t painted or striped, sitting on the bed or chair would have been an interesting effect. It would have made them pop out of the background and could have justified all the set work that went into this effect.

  • DesertandSeas

    Fantastic work Mr. Morgan! How long did it take you to paint that set?
    You must be doing something right going by the sour grapes comments.
    Keep up the good work!

  • Tyler Magee

    Im into fine art and all but im not really into this.

  • Mark Dub

    I’m reminded of Jurassic Park line – “but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could.. that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

  • SpaceMan

    Now this is how you troll, subtle but effective. Well done sir!

  • Final_Word

    Hmmmm. Positive comment = positive. Negative comment = positive. What a world you live in.

  • Graham Case

    I love these.

  • Burnin Biomass

    Performance art.

  • Vin Weathermon

    Well, it’s different I’ll give him that. Perhaps photoshopping something interesting in front of the thing that isn’t photoshopped would help (?)

  • Paulo

    Nice Test strip!

  • yopyop

    A lot of the comments here are quite sad. I guess we could also have :

    Picasso : my kid could do better!
    Mondrian : I can draw lines too!
    Morellet / Flavin : but it’s just neons!
    and so on…

    “I would have generated the effect using Photoshop.” : nailed it.

  • thingwarbler

    Damn, I feel old now. So, in 2013 it’s apparently ‘art’ to create the look that, two decades ago, littered the floor of every photographer’s darkroom? What’s next — someone will painstakingly place small dots all over his set to “make it look like” the picture was shot on high speed black-and-white coarse grain film? But, hey, someone put out a silent movie a few years ago, and that was a huge hit, too, so I’ll hold my tongue and marvel at it all…

  • Tim

    Yeah, you could even market it as an ND filter…

  • DesertandSeas

    I like Mr. Morgan’s work. I like that he has the imagination and creativity to try this sort of thing. That’s important-that taking a chance. Way to go Mr. Morgan!

    He’s making art-whilst others here are reduced to taking pot shots at his efforts. Credible criticism, based on experience or output is worthwhile. In plain speak-put up or shut up.
    Save the equations-you understood full well what I wrote.

  • dnguyen

    Could make a custom ND filter and instantly get the same results anywhere. Too much time on his hands indeed.

  • Zndrson

    Where did they find my old BW test strips?

  • kshitij


  • seoras

    And not one word about Calum Colvin

  • Piotrek Ziolkowski

    Couldn’t agree more… Just because something is time consuming doesn’t mean it’s great… I guess this project would be more time consuming if it was shot only on Mondays every time Daises are in bloom…

  • seoras

    Calum Colvin did this sort of thing years ago (still doing it) though in an art context unlike Morgans advertising context.

  • samdchuck

    I don’t see how these are “in-camera”, the effect isn’t achieved by the camera at all.

  • YODA

    Not art but a waste of time and money, this is.

  • Tzctplus -

    Funny way to achieve something “in camera”

  • why is this even here?

    tl;dr it’s a boring scene, that he didn’t photoshop to make more interesting. Wow. Moving on.

  • why is this even here?


  • why is this even here?

    Ironing Mmmm.

  • why is this even here?


  • why is this even here?

    20 years ago… hey gents look what was created without any darkroom at all!

    /Amateur wet dreams.

  • bgbs

    I can do this much faster in photoshop by duplicating the photo a few times, adjust exposure on each layer and masking out part of each layer to make a stripe. This is much faster than doing manual labor work. What is the point of this excersice, to tell the world that you did this without photoshop? The problem is, is that by itself this photo will not be able to tell about your manual efforts, it cannot live up to it. This photo will always need an explanation next to it saying how it is done in order for somebody to say “oooh, ahh”

  • Silverstream

    Hilarious amount of effort for something that could be much more easily done in a darkroom or in photoshop. Plus you would have flexibility. Work smarter, not harder.

  • Final_Word

    “Save the equations-you understood full well what I wrote.”
    Yes I do. You are part of the “haters gonna hate” club. This is the club that assumes as long as you are doing something or like something that there can be nothing wrong with it and that everyone else must be jealous.
    Like I said, what a world you live in.

  • Rommel

    if he did it by painting the set, then it wasn’t done “in-camera”, was it?

  • Josh

    “Might want to put in the next filter and try 3 second increments instead of 2. they all look pretty muddy to me. But then again, there isn’t really anything super black in the scene. Yeah, put in the next filter.” That is what I would have said if someone brought me this as a test strip.