Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How I Got The Show #31: Light Painting Using a Doctor Who Sonic Screwdriver Torch!!!

Light painting is the technique of using a flashlight or torch as it is known in other places in the world to supplement the ambient exposure of a scene.

Those that also follow the VisualOhio blog may have seen the article I wrote up about the firefly light display in Blacklick Woods Metro Park in Reynoldsburg, OH.  This image was created using the light painting technique.

What I wanted to do was show the fireflies on the path that connects the multi purpose trail with Livingston Avenue entrance to the park.  I tried just setting a long exposure to burn in the small specs of light, but was not satisfied with the results.

Using the Nikon D50 and the Nikkor 24mm f/2.8 lens, this is the result that I came up with.

Kind of dull and not really distinguishable as anything, really.  Along with my camera gear, I always take with me a bag with some other goodies.  Pocket knife, tape, first aid kit and flashlights.  I started off light painting with a small AA cell mag light.  While it did the job of illuminating the parts of the scene that I wanted, the "feel" was all wrong.

Then I remembered a gift my wife had gotten me for my birthday.  I'm a big fan of Doctor Who, the old ones(Tom Baker is my favorite from the "original" series) as well as the rebooted series that started back in 2005(David Tennent ROCKS!!  :).  Digressing, my wife found a flashlight/torch replica of the Doctor's sonic screwdriver.  It is a bluish LED.

When I used that to paint light, it made the scene look more like I wanted it to - a colder, moonlit night.  It also made the dots of light from the fireflies stand out.  Here is the final image that went with the Visual Ohio firefly article.
Exposure Info
30 sec @ f/4 ISO 1600 in Manual Exposure Mode
So - light painting - what is it, really?   As a minimalist definition, is is using a constant light source in your exposure to supplement the already existing ambient.  In this case, I turned the flashlight on and then started running the beam of light emitting from it along the path and the sides of the trees on the edge of the path.

This is an interesting technique to explore.  You can use just about any constant light source, such as flash lights, lamps, laser pointers, halogen work lights.  So next time you want to try something different, light painting might be a technique you want to give a go.

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