I have a fondness for photographing so-called “light-paintings” and sometimes they are the only keeper shots I return with if the available light doesn’t have the magic quality. Here are two different scenes illustrating why sometimes a light-painting can bring an otherwise flat scene to life. (NOTE: for these particular images the moon was in its first quarter and therefore contributed to the overall scene – I prefer no moon for these shots but sometimes my free time doesn’t align with those preferences).
DISCLAIMER: In no way do I present myself as an expert on this technique – or anything photographic. Rather, I present these images and technique to illustrate how I capture light-painting images. Hope you enjoy 🙂
This first pair of images of boulders (1a and 1b) were taken roadside – I desperately wanted to shoot this from the private ranch on which they are located but was denied permission. Nonetheless, I found the subject/scene sufficiently interesting and returned and found this composition, without trespassing 🙂
The second pair of images (2a and 2b) were taken later the same evening as the pair above.
A ‘blank’ shot (no light-painting) to determine the exposure I wanted for the sky and to check the composition. VERY ordinary!
Resultant light-painting image.
For the fence posts ‘painting’ I used a MAG-LITE ® with a home-made snoot to reduce light spill on the surrounds – approximately 3 seconds of light-painting. The boulders were ‘painted’ for approximately 27 seconds using a Brinkmann Q-Beam ® 3 million candlepower spotlight (rechargeable and inexpensive at approximately $40). This image was taken at 7:50 PM. Color temperature for 1a and 1b was 4000.
A ‘blank’ shot (no light-painting) to determine the exposure I wanted for the sky and to check the composition. As such no light was added to the scene. Again, VERY ordinary!
Resultant light-painting image.
After the ‘blank’ shot I made a slight adjustment to the composition to reduce foreground and increase sky/stars. For the external ‘painting’ I used a MAG-LITE ® with a home-made snoot to reduce light spill on the surrounds – approximately 25 seconds of light-painting. The interior was ‘painted’ for approximately 2 seconds using quick pulses from a Brinkmann Q-Beam ®. This light was used because of its inherent warm color, to simulate the glow from a fire. This large light is what I typically use when the subject is not immediately proximate. This image was taken at 9:20 PM. Color temperature for images 2a and 2b was 3200.
Any comments or thoughts are appreciated. My appreciation to Ken Zoller for his locations “guiding” by cell-phone 😉
I am soon to post a photo-blog that highlights some of my light-paintings – please stay posted 🙂
8 thoughts on “Light-painting: before-and-after shots in West Texas.”
Beautiful and thanks for the explanations… do people ever come to see if aliens have landed when you set of all those lights? 🙂 – Dick Gibson (friend of Ken Skinner).
Dick, thanks for visiting the blog and for visiting. Bahaha regarding folks approaching re. aliens 🙂 I have only been approached once, by a policeman with his car spotlights blinding me and my buddy. All was well, he received a call as there had been vandalism there previously.
Lovely shots, Andrew. Sure wish you could have gained direct access to the Rockpile. You could have had some fun in and around there.
Thanks Ken. Yes, there was another shot that required I be on the ranch: A lovely red barn, stables, and this in front of another ‘rockpile’ and the stars – I totally had a paint-job in my mind for that!
Yes, I know that shot, as well! You can see all that on Google Earth, btw.
Great shots and thanks for the explanation of how you did it. Do you have a photo on your blog or Facebook page showing the set up with your Maglight “snoot”? Having a hard time envioning what you are talking about.
Hi Mike, the snoot is simply something that I can form a cylinder from and secure over the end of the light so that it narrows the beam. Obviously a dark material is required for this. Hope this helps.
Ok, I was thinking that was what you meant but wasn’t for certain. I appreciate your reply. I’m an amateur but am interested in doing some light painting. There is an old rock house that burned 20 or so years ago that I’ve always thought would make for some cool photos. I just have to find out who owns it and see if I can get access to it. I enjoy your photos.