Friday, January 30, 2009

Abstract - Light Painting

Abstract Light Painting
Camera: Canon PowerShot S3 IS
Exposure: 2 sec (2)
Aperture: f/8
Focal Length: 21.3 mm


Abstract Light Painting
Camera: Canon PowerShot S3 IS
Exposure: 2 sec (2)
Aperture: f/8
Focal Length: 41.6 mm

Abstract Light Painting
Camera: Canon PowerShot S3 IS
Exposure: 2 sec (2)
Aperture: f/8
Focal Length: 21.3 mm


Painting with light can be a fun experience. Each image will surprise you as it's almost impossible to predict exactly what will happen with long shutter times at night. Having a friend drive a car while you operate your camera at night is the ideal situation for light painting I have found. I find what creates the most striking images is the use of negative space. I have seen the lots of light painting photographs taken from moving cars so other people have discovered this as well.

Problems:
I generally don't like light painting within cars using short focal lengths. When shorter lengths are used lights tend to stay in the same position relative on the plane of the film. Most people tend to shoot out the windshield with short focal lengths. When you do this cars coming towards you or cars that are moving with the flow of traffic tend to stay in the same place on the film plane. Understanding the parallax effect will help you understand why this is the case when photographing moving objects. Don't forget if the object is not moving but you are the parallax effect is still present.

If you would like to experiment with short focal lengths and long shutter times I find pointing the camera out the passenger side window works really well. This allows lights in the distance to move a a diffrent speed relative to lights closer to the lens. The first two shots where taken using this method.

If you wish to shoot out the windshield which can work very well and want to use a short focal length I recommend setting up a tripod to get nice sharp steaks of lights unless of course you want a bunch of streaks going all over the place. Using a longer focal length works good when shooting outside the windshield. The parallax effect is enhanced when using longer focal lengths so you can get away with shooting out the front of the windshield.

Colors:
Sometimes the pictures can come out pretty dull because traffic coming towards you is always going to be white and usually very bright compared to everything else. Depending on your location stop lights, street lamps, neon lights can give you some really interesting color combinations. Traffic however tens to be pretty dull it's going to be red or white for the most part. Going for details with longer focal lengths and shorter shutter speeds will give some interesting results as well.

Corrections:
Take everything I just said and throw it all out. Experiment and see what works for you. Everyone likes different methods of light painting. I have found these methods tend to give me the best images but, your situation and mileage will vary. Try experimenting with focal lengths and shutter speeds this is key.

Of course do this in digital unless you want to just burn through rolls of film.

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