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Forums > Critique > Painting with light. Gimmick .. or not Search   Reply
Photographer
MKPhoto
Posts: 5,664
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada


I like the technique of painting with light, makes for fun shoots and (definitely) cool results. But I am wondering sometimes whether it is a "valid" technique for low-key images, or just a gimmick. There is unavoidable motion blur in many poses.

http://photos.modelmayhem.com/photos/121108/15/509c3f7a869ad_m.jpg
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http://photos.modelmayhem.com/photos/121107/20/509b3663952bd_m.jpg
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http://photos.modelmayhem.com/photos/121108/15/509c42f168f14_m.jpg
Nov 08 12 03:43 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Jeffrey M Fletcher
Posts: 4,316
Asheville, North Carolina, US


I think it's more than a gimmick and is potentially a technique that might work very well for you.

My problem with it is that it's so terribly slow and that it takes a long time to develop a facility with it and use that to build a vocabulary.
Nov 08 12 04:18 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
MKPhoto
Posts: 5,664
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada


Jeffrey M Fletcher wrote:
I think it's more than a gimmick and is potentially a technique that might work very well for you.

My problem with it is that it's so terribly slow and that it takes a long time to develop a facility with it and use that to build a vocabulary.

I don't think it is that slow,  we shot 120 frames in  1.5 hours including 3 outfit changes, I agree that it takes time to translate the idea of light in mind to waving of the hand. But building a vocabulary..is there potentially one?

Nov 08 12 04:23 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
D0127H
Posts: 1,135
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


Nothing's valid or not valid...it's just another way of seeing the world.  The motion blur and other unpredictable things are what make the technique cool.  Embrace and enjoy! : )

Emil Schildt does this kind of work a lot, I recommend checking him out
Nov 08 12 05:27 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Jeffrey M Fletcher
Posts: 4,316
Asheville, North Carolina, US


MKPhoto wrote:

I don't think it is that slow,  we shot 120 frames in  1.5 hours including 3 outfit changes, I agree that it takes time to translate the idea of light in mind to waving of the hand. But building a vocabulary..is there potentially one?

There's the heavy shadows and dramatic lights and darks with this technique that seems ideal for some of the looks you get. I'm not as knocked out by these as I am by some of your other work - there's not as much of a tonal range. That's where the time comes in. If you slow the whole process down and spend more time painting with the light you get more control over the range of color and tonality while still maintaining the heavy shadows.

I think potentially it offers a great deal of control and expressiveness. You've added a constantly moving and variable light source with this technique and there are advantages to that. Pushed far enough the technique could be a sort of in-camera dodge and burn.

I don't know if any of the above makes sense or relates to your original question.

Nov 08 12 06:17 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
MKPhoto
Posts: 5,664
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada


Jeffrey M Fletcher wrote:
There's the heavy shadows and dramatic lights and darks with this technique that seems ideal for some of the looks you get. I'm not as knocked out by these as I am by some of your other work - there's not as much of a tonal range. That's where the time comes in. If you slow the whole process down and spend more time painting with the light you get more control over the range of color and tonality while still maintaining the heavy shadows.

I think potentially it offers a great deal of control and expressiveness. You've added a constantly moving and variable light source with this technique and there are advantages to that. Pushed far enough the technique could be a sort of in-camera dodge and burn.

I don't know if any of the above makes sense or relates to your original question.

Yes, thanks, it  does relate.

Nov 08 12 06:57 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Dowdell Photography
Posts: 6
Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Any lighting technique that gives you an image you like is valid.
Nov 08 12 07:05 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Charles Parks
Posts: 178
Newport Beach, California, US


D0127H wrote:
Nothing's valid or not valid...it's just another way of seeing the world.  The motion blur and other unpredictable things are what make the technique cool.  Embrace and enjoy! : )

Emil Schildt does this kind of work a lot, I recommend checking him out

+1
Besides, it's fun and another way to express your creativity and your vision.
Yours are fantastic btw.

Nov 08 12 09:28 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Yen Studios
Posts: 772
Memphis, Tennessee, US


can u explain to me what you mean painting with light, are shooting on film? are you leaving the shutter open and waving a light around?
Nov 08 12 09:37 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
MKPhoto
Posts: 5,664
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada


Yen Studios wrote:
can u explain to me what you mean painting with light, are shooting on film? are you leaving the shutter open and waving a light around?

Digital, and yes, waving a light around.

Nov 08 12 10:18 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Jean Renard Photography
Posts: 2,009
Los Angeles, California, US


I guess it all depends on how you define light painting. 

You need to know Dean Chamberlain, who really paints with light. This is a video he did, his stills are amazing.   

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pl … KIqv3kaIB4

light painting can be elevated to high art, the key is to create a world that does not otherwise exist...
Nov 08 12 10:28 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Images by MR
Posts: 7,471
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada


MKPhoto wrote:
I like the technique of painting with light,

When I think of painting with light I get something like this.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/terranik/3 … otostream/

Your samples look like a single flash ?/

~ MR

Nov 08 12 10:37 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
MKPhoto
Posts: 5,664
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada


Images by MR wrote:
When I think of painting with light I get something like this.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/terranik/3 … otostream/

Your samples look like a single flash ?/

~ MR

These are 5-10 second exposures with all the lighting provided with a  handheld flashlight e.g. on image 4 you have  "bursts" of light  on face, lingerie, inner right leg, from the right;  and on shoulders from the left. You can see her two shadows and a bit of ghosting on the right side (that's me...).

Nov 08 12 11:40 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
MKPhoto
Posts: 5,664
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada


Jean Renard Photography wrote:
I guess it all depends on how you define light painting. 

You need to know Dean Chamberlain, who really paints with light. This is a video he did, his stills are amazing.   

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pl … KIqv3kaIB4

light painting can be elevated to high art, the key is to create a world that does not otherwise exist...

Yes, I've seen Dean Chamberlain's photography and the video. Beautiful!

I am "inspired"? by by lighting schemes in classic hollywood portrait and film noir moods..,and am a bit color impaired, it is easier to live in a monochromatic world.

Nov 08 12 11:54 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Servando Morales
Posts: 7
Dallas, Texas, US


I have two examples of light painting in my port. I just got into it by learning what Dave Black does. He gives specific flashlights, and camera settings on his photos. Typically a 30 sec shutter speed but you need absolute darkness.
Check him out at:
http://www.daveblackphotography.com/cre … -portfolio

I will continue to use this as a way to express my art.
Nov 09 12 03:59 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
KMP
Posts: 4,658
Houston, Texas, US


Many years ago Aaron Jones made a career with his light painting style and the equipment he developed.  It was a look that many art directors wanted and after a while it DID become a bit trendy looking.  But it's still a great tool to have in your arsenal of lighting techniques. 

See if you can find an old Hose Master Flash lighting kit.
I know they are still around (used). 

Jones developed a disk that would spin very fast in front of a stationary camera. 
There were 3 openings in the disk. You could assign a different degree of diffusion to each opening or none at all.  It was developed to spin fast enough to shoot people without the blur being as much of a problem. You'd have to hook up a separate flash for each opening so I think there were a total of 3 separate power packs or monolights, or speedlights you'd use. 

You might be able to control the blurring of people if you painted them with very controlled flash(es). Then the still area of the shot you could paint in the traditional way with continuous lights.

It's a very cool technique.  When done properly, it gives  a very cool look.
Nov 09 12 09:57 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
MKPhoto
Posts: 5,664
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada


KevinMcGowanPhotography wrote:
Many years ago Aaron Jones made a career with his light painting style and the equipment he developed.  It was a look that many art directors wanted and after a while it DID become a bit trendy looking.  But it's still a great tool to have in your arsenal of lighting techniques. 

See if you can find an old Hose Master Flash lighting kit.
I know they are still around (used). 

Jones developed a disk that would spin very fast in front of a stationary camera. 
There were 3 openings in the disk. You could assign a different degree of diffusion to each opening or none at all.  It was developed to spin fast enough to shoot people without the blur being as much of a problem. You'd have to hook up a separate flash for each opening so I think there were a total of 3 separate power packs or monolights, or speedlights you'd use. 

You might be able to control the blurring of people if you painted them with very controlled flash(es). Then the still area of the shot you could paint in the traditional way with continuous lights.

It's a very cool technique.  When done properly, it gives  a very cool look.

$300 on e-bay...

Nov 09 12 10:11 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Gabby57
Posts: 361
Coppell, Texas, US


As low light performance improves, this should be even more viable.
Nov 09 12 10:17 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Jhono Bashian
Posts: 2,427
Cleveland, Ohio, US


nice effects, I remember using the Hose Master back in the early 90's for still life applications and 1K DP's for painting landscapes and building exteriors.
Nov 09 12 10:22 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
MKPhoto
Posts: 5,664
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada


Gabby57 wrote:
As low light performance improves, this should be even more viable.

Actually, I shoot ISO 200 and f/8 and $2 dollar store flashlights with 7 LEDs. It is very easy to blow highlights.

High ISO would help painting large scale objects, though.

Nov 09 12 10:25 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
B T Photography
Posts: 29
Milton Keynes, England, United Kingdom


Some of these peoples shots are amazing. Check them out:
"The Seeing with Photography Collective is a group of photographers based in New York City who are visually impaired, sighted and totally blind."
http://www.flickr.com/photos/seeingwithphotography/
Dec 28 12 02:25 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Zack Zoll
Posts: 2,266
Glens Falls, New York, US


Gimmicky.

Do the images look good?  Yes.

Does it look any different than what can be achieved with regular lighting?  Not really.

By all means, you should feel free to work however you want.  But this is a very process-oriented approach, and the only thing that makes the lighting 'special' is that it took you longer to do it.  If you're doing something differently, but not because you want a result that requires a different approach, then it's a gimmick.

Now if you had them lit in a way that HAD to be done with a flashlight, then I would feel differently.

EDIT:  Have you thought about buying a couple Speedlites and some snoots?  You'd still have the same effect, but without the motion blur.
Dec 28 12 08:14 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Darin B
Posts: 998
San Diego, California, US


Jean Renard Photography wrote:
light painting can be elevated to high art, the key is to create a world that does not otherwise exist...

That. Completely valid and potentially powerful technique. I like it.

Dec 28 12 08:24 pm  Link  Quote 
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