Covid 19 has taken a lot of people by complete surprise. Despite the warning signs evident at the start of the year, it sadly took three months till authorities made significant measures to reduce the spread of the lethal virus.
Since then, millions of households have had become quarantined spaces and public services have been closed off. Considering the unusual situation, so many people have been faced with reduced freedoms and a lot of time at home. Despite these difficult circumstances however, occupying one’s time with a new hobby or project can be the perfect way to survive the lockdown. Perhaps even to enjoy the time.
It is to this end that Light Painter, Steve Fisackerly, offers some light on the matter in discussing his project of taking slow speed shots and moving light to capture special effects in photography on his Instagram page.
Here is a basic run down for anyone to get started.
Set up and principle
The general set up of equipment comprises of a digital SLR camera, a tripod and a light source. It really is that simple. If you don’t have a camera, there are specific apps that allow your phone to take longer shutter speed shots which can be just as effective.
The principle behind ‘Light Painting’ is that when taking photographs in low lit conditions with a longer shutter speed, anything that emits light will smear across the image for the duration of the shot.
Having the camera positioned on the tripod, set the camera to 60 seconds shutter speed with an f stop (aperture size) to 5.6 and ISO to 200. This is considered the optimum setting for light painting. 60 seconds will allow for sufficient time to record some interesting movements and the aperture will a mid-range depth of field so the subject’s movements will be in focus.
Within moments it is easy to get a relatively decent effect with a simple torch. The range of effects possible, its worth experimenting with various combinations of light sources. Strobe lights and flash lights combined can create a number of patterns and textures across the photograph. Applying colored cellophane to alter the hue of the light is an effective way of introducing color to the photograph and having string attached to the end of a torch will allow one to swing the light over a greater range of space, filling the entire composition with the gestures of movement.
Consider other forms of light. Glow sticks are easy to get hold of and relatively cheap. With suitable care and protective wear, glowing embers or fire sticks make for a natural and spirited effect in the photography.
Additionally, wearing reflective material in clothing and having a light source shine outside of the shot will enable a multi-formed flurry of body parts to take on abstract forms, illuminated by light.
On achieving some decent effects it is worth applying the process to various subjects.
Tracking features of architectural facades at night is an interesting way of capturing urban scenes in a creative way. Staging battles with imaginary light sabres and laser guns is fun and playful or simply writing messages can be a thoughtful way of communicating to friends or loved ones.
Ultimately it’s like playing with a sparkler but having that moment recorded for posterity. As a hobby, that’s a pretty fun thing to do.
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