First I must thank Dave Black for giving me the inspiration to get back out and do some light-painting. Granted my images are nowhere near as good as his but everyone has to start somewhere right?
I use to light paint a lot but gave it up because of the amount of work it takes to scout, test, compose, do the shoot, and then post process. I just did not have time to do it. This also falls under shooting for everyone else and not yourself. I plan on getting back to shooting for myself a lot more going forward.
This image is really a trial image for more serious work this summer and spring, I still have a spotlight to purchase. I did buy a new smaller light that I can use to get out to about 300′ and it works great for small quick ideas in and around the city. To do the large scale images I am planing on doing this summer it will take a very powerful spotlight.
On to the shoot…
For all night and long exposure images you must use a tripod. I own two one small compact carbon fiber and a more sturdy aluminum Vanguard Altra Pro with a ball head. As I live close to Lake Hefner in OKC I tend to do most of my testing in and around the area, so I knew I was going to test at one of two locations. My first choice was being used by some fisherman so off to the Lake Hefner Dam on the North side of the lake to set up and shoot.
Equipment Used …
- Nikon D610
- Nikon 16-35 f/4
- Nikon remote shutter release
- 720 Lumen flashlight
Set up and test shot …
Knowing your location before you shoot always helps. I selected this spot because I know I could do a fast setup and shoot in a few minutes. So I jumped out of the car set up my tripod framed the shot and did a test.
From experience I knew that I would be somewhere around 30 seconds @ f/11 with an iso of 400. This would give me the look that I wanted.
Checked the back of the camera and was happy with what it looked like for the base image. Once you have your base image looking the way you want it to it is really easy to paint (light the areas you want to highlight).
Fire the shutter release, I always use the mirror up option to reduce all in camera vibrations (if you do not know how to set your camera to mirror up please RTFM) turn you flashlight on and highlight over the areas of your subject that you want to light. I have learned that if I do a running count to myself (one one thousand, two one thousand, etc) I know how much time I have left before the shutter closes.
Presto, you have your shot! It is not an exact science, it is, so much trial and error. Just have a good time and keep pushing yourself to do something different or learn something new.
Shot was done with the following settings :
- Nikon D610
- Nikkor 16-35mm @ f/11
- 30 Seconds
- ISO 400
- Tripod mounted
- Mirror lock up
- Remote shutter release
Hope you enjoyed the little How To..