Sunday, June 12, 2011

Painting with light

Painting with light

First attempts at a new artistic endeavor are bound to be disappointing unless you have no expectations. And I think this can only be the case when you are playing and not working toward any particular goals.
Of course "photography" means "writing with light" and serious photographers should always be aware that the light is the deciding factor in every picture they take. However, sometimes a motif - taken at an event, for example - needs to be captured and the artistic aspects of the photo become secondary. In such cases, a bit of luck may help turn a pictorial recording into an aesthetically pleasing piece of artwork.
At our art group's "happening" on Friday, June 10, at the appropriately named Lichtbildnerei, I did some light painting in performance with the people in attendance. Audience members who had never seen it done before seemed intrigued by the idea and had a chance to try it out themselves.

Before the performance, I practiced a bit at home first. This motif was on a 1978 record cover. Can you guess which one?

I think the most interesting designs are made when you outline - or form a pattern - with light close to the object. As in the first picture of Patrick above and the knapsack below, these detailed lines add little light to the picture as a whole, appearing more like a skeleton. I found f10 to work well on pictures lasting over 9 seconds. Of course it depends on the amount of ambient light and the distance of the camera to the object, as well as the intensity of the light.

Try it out yourself! Just put your camera on a tripod and set the shutter speed to at least 10 seconds or BULB if your DSLR has that setting so you can use your remote control. Make sure you are wearing dark clothes and try not to get yourself between the camera and the light. Have fun!
The picture below is a montage of four pictures - one for each letter - that I did for my artist friend. However, instead of painting the letters with a flashlight, I moved the camera and used a streetlight as the source of light.

1 comment:

  1. I've always wanted to try light painting. Great article!