Cruising the web can be erratic, like you’re in one of those car commercials where cars are whizzing by you. It’s nice when an interesting piece of digital or digitized art arrests your attention for a moment, takes you out of the whirlwind.
So far, I have written two posts on the topic of light painting. One was an interview with a professional photographer who explains how to do light painting, and one was the documentation of how I have tried out some light painting techniques. Since then, I’ve only become more interested in the ever more popular craft known as light painting photography.
Welcome to Amateur Hour, folks! A couple weeks ago, I conducted and shared an interview with Austin, TX photographer Matthew Danser about how he “paints with light.” At the end of that interview, I promised you, dear readers, that I would try to replicate Danser’s technique at home without professional equipment. It felt good to make that promise. Until the next day. Gulp.
I have a great deal of interest in digital photography, but my life is as crazy as anyone else’s. My son, family, and work keep me busy from dawn to midnight every day. I’ve never had time to cultivate any photography skills, even though I’ve always been very interested, sitting on the edge of my seat, if you will, for a chance to take some digital photos in order to learn a little about how capturing light can create astonishing works of art.
Recently I interviewed Austin, TX photographer Matthew Danser about some innovative ways he uses light in his digital photos.
For the photo shown to the right, taken at night in a Texas ghost town, Danser assembled the following items: a powerful, handheld LED light; his Canon 5D Mark iii camera and Canon 16-35 mm L lens (at 16mm); Canon 580ex 2 flash; a red gel (piece of red cellophane to color the light of the flash); a tripod; and his girlfriend’s finger (to graciously hold down the shutter release button because he forgot his bulb release at home!).
Danser told Pegasus: “So, I set my camera on bulb mode and had my girlfriend hold down the shutter release button for 13 minutes, while the camera was very sturdy on the tripod. The place was pitch black except for the stars and the moon (very little ambient light pollution in the desert). As my girlfriend was keeping the shutter open, I walked to one side of the structure and methodically shined my flashlight (rated at 2000 lumens, so it’s pretty bright) all along the exterior and front facade of the building. This lasted for about five minutes before I turned the flashlight off and ran to the other side of the building and ‘painted’ for another five minutes.”
Danser said that one of the important tricks of light painting is to show off the textures of the buildings by shining his LED flashlight at an angle instead of from the camera position.
After “painting” the sides of the building for five minutes each, he ran inside and popped off about 10 red-gelled flashes to create the effect of a warm glow pouring out of the building.
When asked how he was able to run in and out of the building without showing up in the photo, Danser simply replied that “The camera could not ‘see’ me because I was moving quickly, and there wasn’t enough ambient light to expose me in the picture.” While popping off the gelled flashes in the building, he always made sure he was not visible to the camera. (more…)