2019—More Adventures in Light Painting
The second part of my Light Painting challenge was to create an outdoor Light Painting. Another Dave Black video that I watched inspired me to feature the situation of a broken down car as my first ever outdoor light painting project. Two of my friends, Royetta and Tommy, graciously agreed to help me. Besides modeling, my dear friends helped me during our two hour shooting session on a dead end road in the dark, by offering suggestions about everything from vehicle placement to moving our single safety cone to a more visible location to calling out to me to remind me which areas I needed to make sure I hit with the light.
Light Painting is new to me. I’m trying to figure things out as I go along. It was not all smooth sailing and everything didn’t go as planned, but it was a fun adventure. To create this photograph, we’d moved the truck after taking several shots a few feet away because someone in the distance turned on outdoor lights that ruined subsequent shots by creating a distracting blotch of light. With the change, the END sign moved from our original position in front of the truck to the back of the truck but the overall composition was much improved. I loved the END sign and knew it had to be in the photograph. I decided to light the trees to help give the scene a bit of depth.
Although I’d already tried the flashlight I used for the light painting, it didn’t respond as it did while I practiced with it. And, the snoot I made out of gaffers tape to better focus the beam of light still let out too much light so I was constantly squashing the snoot between my fingers. The exposure was long, one minute. at f/8, ISO 64. I used my Nikon D850 and my Nikkor 24-70mm VR lens set to 48mm, and my Vello Shutterboss so I could trigger the long exposure, with 10 second delay, remotely. As Dave instructed, I had the Long Exposure Noise Reduction set in camera, even though I was at ISO 64. That setting requires the camera to take an equal amount of time (i.e., one minute) at the end of the original exposure before producing an image. After each 1 minute exposure, we anxiously waited another minute before we could see the results. As I viewed each attempt, I could see where I needed to change my lighting and then I had to try to remember which areas I was giving too much light and which I’d missed and make those changes in the next image.
I took a total of 21 photographs between 7:50PM and 9:30PM. Each shot was unique because of the lighting. I had to remember to light the hood, the side panels, under the tires to help anchor the truck, to spotlight Royetta and Tommy and her feet and the tool box. The brake lights lit the END sign. Last I lit the trees. I ran out of time in more than one photograph. I over exposed the models’ faces a couple of times. This is the last photograph I took and it was our favorite of the night. We were getting tired and a little rummy by this time. And, there was no guarantee that I would remember to light everything I needed to light if I tried again. Best to call it a night while we were ahead.
This photograph is far from perfect but I’m pleased with my first attempt at this kind of photography. I can see that Light Painting can become addictive. I’m already planning another scenario to shoot. Afterall, this was just my first try. Next time can only be better.