Light Painting

From the vault

This week’s From the Vault Installment is about light painting. Light painting is a photographic technique used to create images in the dark using a torch or other bright light source. I went to a workshop with Peter Solness of Illuminated Landscapes a few years ago and played around with some of these methods. It’s something I’d like to do more of. It even made it to my 60 for 60 list!

My trusty Panasonic FZ1000 is able to handle the technical requirements of light painting. Namely being able to keep your shutter open for 30 seconds or more. If you decide to give it a go make sure you’re able to use your camera in a manual focus mode. You’ll waste a lot of time relying on the auto-focus to try and find something to focus on in the dark. You will of course need a tripod!

About the images

Old Shack: This shot was taken on an Instameet in Bright, Victoria. While you can’t see it there is a man walking around with a torch, “painting” the shack.

Protea: The protea was attached to a light stand using a peg. It was up against a white wall. I used a small LED torch to paint it. You can put bits of coloured cellophane over the torch to make different colours.

The Fish: This image used a pixel stick. Pixel sticks use LED lights to create an image which is uploaded to it as a JPEG. A bit of digital magic!

Coloured spirals: This was a group effort. Three people with a bunch of torches tied together on stings. Swing them around and walk forward in a line one behind the other. Different lengths of string led to different spiral sizes. It never ceases to amaze me that you can’t see the person swinging the string! If they keep moving the sensor does not have enough time to capture them. You need to wear dark clothes as well.

Next level!

If you really want to get into light painting and have money to spare, check out Denis Smith’s Ball of Light Site. Peter Solness also runs his workshops on a semi-regular basis. Covid may have put a stop to that though!

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