Beth Jennings – The Journey Captured » I capture the journey of people in their personal and professional lives. I teach amateur photographers how to capture their life in beautiful photos. Photography, Melbourne Photographer, Photography Workshops, dSLR Camera Workshops, Creative Camera Course, Photo Course Melbourne, Camera Class Melbourne

Easy tips for light painting at night

Photography literally is, painting with light. For the time that the shutter is open, light is permitted onto your camera’s sensor, recording the light that reflects off all the subjects in front of your lens. So what is ‘light painting’? Light painting is photographing the light that omits from portable light sources like torches and bike lights at night time, or in darkness. Your camera is set on a tripod, the shutter is held open for a long duration like 30 seconds, and for the time that the shutter is open you ‘paint’ the darkness with the light from your light source. So the resulting photograph is a record of the patterns you created with your light source.

You can get really creative with this. During our outing last Friday night with The Melbourne Walk and Shoot Group in Melbourne’s CBD alleys, people wrote words in the air with torches, painted walls with light, and we even painted each other! Here are some of my pictures and some how-to info…

With a dark environment, put your camera on a tripod.
Set your camera to ISO100, F11 and 30 seconds.
Get a friend to grab a torch and play.

This torch changes colour periodically, which is why the lines are multicoloured.
You need to test the exposure time against aperture to get the right combination.

You can get more creative and write words.
After each letter is written, you cover your hand over the light,
move to the start of the next letter, then remove your hand, and write that letter.
MWSG is for the Melbourne Walk and Shoot Group!

You can draw imaginary pictures.
Jess was an absolute star at this.

He he, the benefits of being our group organiser!
Naming rights.

Here’s how it looked behind the scenes.
On the left is Jane moving the torch around.
My exposure is quite long too, at 20 seconds set on a tripod.
So Barbara leaning against the wall is fairly sharp.
The tripods didn’t move at all, so they are completely sharp.
The other people that moved during the 20 seconds have become blurred.

I was keen to use the mixed lighting with portraits.
I illuminated my subjects with a hand held torch light.
The background light is from a light inside the building, glowing through the windows.

My exposures were ISO100, F20, 5 seconds.

The key was balancing the handheld torch light exposure against the window exposure.
A bit of trial and error involved but then they started working.

And then I’ve played in post production to enhance the drama with the three C’s:
Colour, Contrast and Clarity (in Adobe Lightroom).

That stream of light on the left is the torch in my hand.

Figuring out the technicals – thank you Sunny for the photo!

Thank you thank you to all my awesome models for my portrait experiments!!!

So go on! Have a play! Everyone had a ball at this one, it was like they were all big kids! Already I’ve had requests to do this event again, and we will. If you’d like to join us, anytime you are welcome at The Melbourne Walk and Shoot Group. Join up is free and you receive event announcements in your email.


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