Sunday, February 3, 2013

Light Painting Delight

If you haven't discovered light painting yet, you don't know what you are missing!

You can while away some cold winter nights, and get your middle-aged friends laughing like children by organizing a light painting party!

And you don't need much to do this, assuming you already have basic photographic equipment.  Unlike most photography adventures, pretty much the only extra thing you need is very inexpensive!  Just find three little LED flashlight keychains, in different colors (like the kind you might find at stores like Target or Menards or Wallmart or Amazon, sometimes even in the checkout lanes).

A dog leash would come in handy, but if you don't have that, try to put a few lanyards together. You just need something long, that you can swing, with a clip on it.

Round up your tripod (absolutely essential!), a wide angle lens, your camera, and a very dark room, the darker the better.  We used a school gym.

Put your camera on the tripod, set it at the lowest ISO possible (100 or 200), f/16 or 22, auto white balance, and your shutter speed at 30 seconds. Using a timer to trigger the shutter is even better, or using a cable release and "bulb" mode is better, but you also can just use 30 seconds and trigger the shutter directly if you want.

Make sure your lens is set in "manual focus."  If your lens does not have a manual/auto switch, there should be a setting directly on your camera to change from "S" or "C" and "M".  Set it to "M", for manual focus.

Snap the LED lights onto the end of the dog chain or lanyards and one person stands  far enough away from the camera to not hit it when swinging the chain.  While the lights are still on, set the focus on the lens to the person with the lights. Throw some object on the floor in front of the person with the lights, as a point of reference, because they are going to move in a half circle around this point, while swinging the chain.

Turn off the light, trigger the camera shutter.  Now the Light Person should start swinging the chain in a circle, keeping the chain spinning straight up and down, perpendicular to the floor, directly above the object on the floor, and slowly move in a half circle around the object.  Get all the way through the half circle before the shutter closes and don't stop before it closes. Keep going beyond the half circle if necessary.

And that's it!  See the Light Person in the photo above?  Nope! Just the light!  Cool, huh?

The hardest part is to sneak the dog chain out of the house without Ruby going wild, leaping for joy for a walk (in the freakin' 30 below? I think not!), and then seeing her sad, disappointed eyes. . . .


Maria C said...

Really cool! John is the one who first spotted your new blog post! He says that he did some light painting last year as part of an art class to first graders. Isn't it amazing? I had never heard of light painting before and suddenly two people bring it to my attention. Welcome back to blogland!

Nicki said...

Well, you inspired me to give the bubbly fruit a go last year and it was one of my favorite photo accomplishments for the year. Looks like I might have to give this a go (sans gym).