Coast recently sent me some of their latest flashlights to try out. I was excited about the HP17 because it looked like a good mix of power, size, and affordability. What’s the first thing I do with it? Tape it to my chest!
The photo was exposed for 9 seconds @ f/2.8, ISO6400. Why the wide open settings? Well, the water was pretty damn cold and I was trying to minimize the amount of shivering visible by shortening the exposure as much as possible. There are compromises in every photo ever taken. I used my hiking shoes as a wedge to make the HP17 point away from me at an angle (see below photos for the duct tape and shoe mess that’s stuck to me). I backlit myself with a wirelessly triggered flash to help bring out some of the foreground and make a nice hard light around me which would make any small movements during the exposure a little more forgiving. The flash is also why ripples in the water are frozen, rather than having the satiny smooth appearance you usually see in long exposures.
My friend, Jody, triggered the camera. He was the subject of the photo in the last blog post.
The light work is only half of the equation in a light painting. Making sure the location is visible is just as important, if not more so. Using bright lights or pyro make it tough to get a nice balanced exposure that really shows off your environment. This, in turn, can render your act of trespassing and wading through muddy snake ridden waters entirely pointless.
One solution is using a manual aperture lens. The f/stop on a manual aperture lens is set by the aperture ring on the lens, rather than electronically via the camera. This allows you to change your f/stop during the exposure. Jeremy Jackson, TackyShack, uses this feature of manual lenses in a ton of his work. I paid him a visit last summer in Virginia, and after using his Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 for the night I bought myself one the next week.
To create the image at the top of this post, I taped (duct tape, for the obsessively curious) a sparkler fountain to a stick and moved it around behind a friend. For the first 50 seconds of the exposure, the camera was set to f/8, ISO100. After I finished with the fireworks, I walked over to the camera, opened the aperture up all the way to f/2.8, and let the sky burn in for another three minutes while my friend stood perfectly still. The total exposure time of the photo was 212 seconds. Having your friend stand barefoot and motionless in a cold lake for nearly four minutes after raining hell fire down on him really brings out the sadist in you.
Below is the first attempt at the shot. The exposure was much shorter (43 seconds, f/8, ISO100), and the f/stop was also consistent at f/8 throughout the exposure. Staying at f/8 would have taken forever to expose properly and we would never have been able to capture so many of those glorious stars overhead.
The above image is a long exposure shot as JPG and is straight from the camera. Here’s a walk through of how it was made.
Three different lights were used to light up the environment. Two flashlights and a canon speedlite. Above are the two flashlights. You can see how the Maglite is a lot warmer than the Coast HP21. Below shows how the three lights were layered to light up the scene.
The first light was a wirelessly triggered speedlite behind Josh and facing out toward the camera.
The second light was a Coast HP21. This one was held by Josh and it was pointed at the wall behind him. You can see his hand right hand is a little blurry from slightly moving the flashlight during the long exposure.
A Maglight was used to light up the exterior. I thought its warmer tone looked better on the stone. The blue dots were created with battery powered string lights that I have modified by splicing a momentary switch into the wire. I shot this image with a 14mm lens which allowed me to get very close to the lens and turn the string lights on and off a few times to give the illusion of dots of light floating in the air.
Here’s some video from the trip. Most of it was shot with GoPro 3 Black Edition I picked up a while back. There’s a timelapse about a minute in that shows most of the light painting session. The two clips of the bugs were from a 5DmkIII and the timelapse was shot on a 7D.
New promo images for their upcoming 2013 tour. Last year they played along side for My Darkest Days, Trapt, Crossfade, Zack Myers of Shinedown, Fuel, Mark Tremonti, Sevendust, and several other acts. These guys are well on their way to being rock stars. You listen to their EP, which I also did the album art for, on bandcamp. (more…)
Recent product shots for Straight To Ale. I used strobes rather than flashlights to light the bottles because I needed precise repeatable lighting from bottle to bottle. Sparklers, modified flashlights, and a variety of glows ticks were used for the light painting effects.
My wife and I were allowed to photograph SAR training (search and rescue) and wander through the buildings at the abandoned Tennessee state prison. Besides photographing the training and the prison, we were also part of the training. We both were asked to hide in inside of buildings and a guard tower and the dogs practiced by seeking us out. It was very impressive. The day gave me a new appreciation of our local search and rescue teams. They are dedicated people who make a real difference in the community. (more…)