With over 30 years in the photography business it’s still sobering to discover that there are still things in this art/science to learn.
It’s interesting that this discovery seems to happen the most in studio photography—where we have control of ALL the variables. This just means that there are more things for us to screw-up on when we choose among the myriad of decisions that go into the photography of any subject! Just some of those decisions include: size of the light(s), type of lights, placement relative to subject and to each other, how to light the background, how to control each light source—volumes have been written about just these variables.
So, with decades of experience, education from some of the legends in photography, having earned my P.P.A. (Professional Photographers of America) Masters and Craftsman’s degrees for International print competitions and teaching, I had approached the incredibly simple concept of light painting as beneath my involvement. After all this experience and training I’m about to abandon my huge multi-thousand dollar investment in studio equipment….for a flashlight!
The concept of light painting is so simple and yet like most art it’s all in the execution. I’m reminded of what one sage photographer wrote decades ago…”it’s simple, you just put light where you want it and don’t put light where you don’t want it.” Simple!
So, here’s my second attempt at light painting….
|f16.0 @ 30sec., ISO 125; Lens @ 168mm
Making it even harder this time I chose Two Black Pistols! Hey, it’s more interesting compositionally with two guns and by using two I can show both sides at the same time.
Even though the lighting is literally in-my-hands, now, all the standard lighting rules still apply, to wit:
- Black objects (just like glass objects) are defined by their specular highlights.
- Those specular highlights are created with the light source(s) striking the subject from the top and/or the sides—the light source never comes from camera position (that would create flat light).
What is very different about light painting is the precision that can be obtained in putting light exactly where you want it. Because we mostly use large light sources in studio flash photography especially in portraiture—pin point precision is not needed.
When painting these guns I found that my little LED flashlight’s beam was too large and I over lit the muslin material around the gun in front. I carefully tried to just paint the gun.
Here is the set-up and my lighting solution….
I did two things….I reduced the size of my beam (I made a snoot out of good-‘ol Cinefoil) and I brought the flashlight in closer to my subjects.
I’m happy with the final result and I did it all within my 30 second exposure (including the background).
In Part 2 I’ll continue with a more difficult subject set-up using a knife and some small support objects.
’Til next week….
Author: Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman
Training site: http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com
Client site: http://www.TheStorytellersUsa.com