David N. Sachs | Light Painting

Light Painting

August 05, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

I recently learned and fell madly in love with light painting, a technique that literally lives in the dark...

For those unfamiliar with light painting (I was one of them until earlier this week), the idea is simple: a long exposure (say 30 seconds) where the photographer literally paints in the scene with a flashlight (a pen light, an led...even a bicycle headlight, as you'll see used in the following images...anything that points a beam of light). Whatever the light beam touches will be seen by the camera; the more light you use means the brighter the image--or that part of the image--will be (it also means whatever you avoid "brushing" with the light will be dramatically shadowed). 

But I know you're not here for a rambling exposition, you're here to witness my teetering first steps (and missteps) into the imaginative world of light painting! 

It's also worth noting that none of these images have entered Photoshop. 

I held the light over the candles for a good length of time to give them a lighted glow, then "dusted" the entire scene before running the light up and down the shaft of the axe. I made sure to get the coffee sack in the background and the upright bass statue in the...midground? I'll Google that later. I couldn't get 100% of the glare off the wooden vase in the middle there (towards the back), but I'm pretty stoked on this as a first time go at a new technique. 

I promised some missteps as well, didn't I? If you're looking to try light painting, I think you'll find the "unusable" images are the ones you'll learn from the most:






The first thing I realized is that Auto White Balance isn't gonna work here. Look at how cold this image on the left is; to compensate, I adjusted to "shade" settings, or about 10,000 Kelvin. 








Next is the issue of neglecting to light particular elements! See how I forgot to light the bass statue at all here on the right? He (it?) disappears almost entirely into the background.

Anyway, I feel I could go on forever talking about my mistakes, but there's light painting to be done! Also Outside Lands this weekend so look out for some fun images coming soon (especially with my new 70-200 2.8 mk2 lens!).












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