- Beginner Light Painting Photography
- Can Creativity Be Learned? (Video)
- Google Street View Photographs the Lives of Polar Bears (Video)
- Interesting Photo of the Day: 4,000 Bouncy Balls Dropped Down Stairs
- How to Watermark Images in Lightroom 5 (Video)
Posted: 18 Mar 2014 10:57 PM PDT
Light painting is one of the lesser known techniques in photography and is usually only carried out by serious night owls… and some very keen photographers. Primarily performed at night and outdoors, such night captures can make scenes look more dramatic than they would under normal conditions.
Light painting is not a new thing. It’s a technique that has been used for over 100 years. And contrary to modern belief, it’s not at all easy to get the optimal result. Accuracy in exposure settings, the right tools, the right atmospheric conditions, and patience are all key to a great night captures involving light painting.
Light painting technique involves two methods: moving a light around in the frame during a long exposure, similar to writing with a sparkler, or using a controlled light source, such as a flashlight or speedlight, on or off camera, to light a particular part of a scene.
The latter is more of a contrived and creative technique that can yield spectacular results, especially in a commercial setting. LED torches are the tool of choice here. A few dollars at Kmart, will get you a small pocket sized, but extremely bright and useful LED torch, which is also daylight balanced, so you won’t get any undue yellow shift in colour to whatever you light up. I often use colored gels or filters that go with my Canon speedlight. They go over the light source to further increase the dynamic feel of the image.
A major part of light painting involves setting your composition. Often hard to do when you’re in the pitch of night with all the necessary evils at hand. No moon, no ambient light, and quite often in the middle of a quiet nowhere, all alone. If you’re well prepared, you’ll find that the tiniest amount of light in such a setting will have either a dramatic or devastating effect in your shot, so paint carefully.
I always test the setting, with sample shots of various areas, to measure the reflectiveness off anything shiny or wet, the time absorbed when lighting dark corners, and the relevant amount of exposure to suit each. From there, you’ll need to orchestrate which parts of the scene are to receive a “heavy brush” of light exposure with the torch or flash, and which are to receive a “sprinkle”. And you thought it was an easy technique! Using a torch, will provide you with so much more control, as a speedlight flash will never “choose its target.”
For this article, I thought I’d step you through how to create your own image using the light painting technique. Light painting does take a while to grasp, as there are many places you can make minor mistakes that ruin the shot. But with a little knowledge and advice, anyone can try this technique.
Scope Out the Scene
OK, first, set your tripod up to a predetermined height and leave it to the side. Time to scout for a scene. There’s no point setting all your equipment up to find that you just have to move later because something is killing your shot or getting in the way. I take my camera and walk the scene, looking for interesting things, watching that my background is not too congested, and that I have a way of separating my subject from the “junk”.
Setting Up Your Shot
Switch your camera to manual, and auto-focus. Zoom in and find a light source or light area that is the same distance away as the subject you want in focus, an dpress the shutter halfway down. If need be, artificially light the subject with your new LED torch. Once focused, zoom back out to your desired length and, without touching the shutter or the focus ring, switch back to manual focus. Make sure you’re also not touching the focus ring when you compose.
This is something that no tutorial can tell you how to do, this is in the eye of the photographer. Be creative and show off your creative eye.
Quick Tip: Wide angles make for much more interesting settings at night than longer focal lengths.
Setting the Correct Exposure
Nearly there, but getting the exposure right, is crucial. The best way to expose your shot manually is to use your camera’s built in light meter as a rough guide but not as a precise judge. When you first start you will need to follow it tightly, but as you gain more and more experience you won’t need the meter at all.
Set the camera mode to Av (aperture priority). Now, set the ISO speed anywhere in between f/4 and f/8 to achieve maximum sharpness. Deeper apertures of f/16, etc., will help your sharpness factor but take much longer to expose–sometimes too long.
Two things you’ll need to be mindful of here. First, that such a shallow aperture setting of f/4 or f/8 will mean you will have to be accurate when focussing. And second, but just as important, the difference in exposure between these two apertures can greatly vary your result, depending on the conditions you’re in. Your in-camera light meter will tell you its suggested exposure time when you half depress the shutter. Let’s just say the camera suggests a shutter speed of 10 seconds. Remember 10 seconds. Now set the ISO to 100. Take your 10 seconds and multiply that number by 32. This gives us 320 seconds. Divide this by 60. This gives us about 5.5 minutes.
Getting the Shot
Now, drag out your light source and begin painting in sections of your scene, by shining your torch onto the scene during each test exposure. Check the results with each test image you capture. Look to achieve a nice ambient overall exposure without too much digital noise or excessive highlights. Using the results you measured in each of your test shots, you should now be able to see what parts of your scene require more light painting, and what parts only require a quick flash past.
Now plug in a remote shutter release, and set the camera to Bulb mode (move the shutter down past 30 seconds). Get a timing device (phone, stop watch, or similar) and get ready to wait. Press the remote shutter release and lock it on. Start the timer. Wait the desired time, and check the results. Look for excessive highlights or shadows with no light (which will fill with digital noise), and adjust your torch technique to suit.
There are few things to remember here. The longer your torch shines or the more times you flash your speedlight, the light will accumulate and therefore increase the overall exposure. This is why you should run test shots and paint carefully. It’s not an exact science to start with, but after a few test shots, your accuracy can be high, especially if you take notes–whether mental or written–to help you orchestrate the final image.
What do we call this? Planning. The ideals of every good photographer should begin with good planning. In light painting, its essential.
About the Author:
For Further Training on Light Painting:
Check out Trick Photography and Special Effects by Evan Sharboneau; a very popular instructional eBook that explains how to do most of the trick photos that often capture attention and amazement from viewers. It also teaches the basics that are essential before moving onto advanced techniques. With 300+ pages of information and 9 hours of video tutorials, it is very detailed and includes extensive explanations of many complicated methods that are very fun to learn.
It can be found here: Trick Photography and Special Effects
Posted: 18 Mar 2014 03:57 PM PDT
Most would agree that artful photography requires a fair amount of creativity. But is creativity something you’re born with? Or is it a process that takes hard work and dedication?
A few experts say anybody can be creative–it’s just a matter of finding something you’re interested in, something that inspires you, moves you, makes you think and want to create, then getting to work and doing it:
The video above, How to Be Creative: Navigating the Creative Process, talks about the process of being creative and the factors involved, from taking ideas from others who have inspired you and transforming or combining them to come up with your own remixed version, collaborating with other creative minds, and being able to understand yourself and others.
Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D. Cognitive Psychologist, says it’s not a simple left brain/right brain distinction; people who are more open to combining different associations from various brain networks tend to be more creative.
The Cognitive Stages of Creativity
Preparation: Lots of brain activity in areas associated with attention and deliberate focus.
Incubation: Where you let it go. Research shows that when you let your mind wander away from the task, when you return to it, you have more creative ideas.
Illumination: The stage of insight, where the connections subconsciously collide, then reach the threshold of consciousness.
Verification: When you think about your audience and craft the message so it’s best received by people, basically, you package it in the right way.
Author Julie Burstein says creativity is a process and that you have to expand your capacity for uncertainty. Actually, Burstein offers up a few tips on how to be creative:
She says that one of the key elements is what the poet John Keats called “negative capability”: the ability to stay in a space where you don’t exactly know what’s going to happen next, the willingness to chase down ideas, and the understanding that not all of your ideas are going to lead somewhere–but that the experience of pursuing an idea will influence the next idea.
Do you feel as if you were born creative? Or is it something you’ve learned along the way?
Posted: 18 Mar 2014 02:03 PM PDT
With global temperatures rising, the areas most affected are out of sight from many. And those hit the hardest can’t help themselves: they are the animals living in freezing temperatures, forced to rely on diminishing ice floes and weakened habitats. The Google Maps team recently trekked out to Churchill, Manitoba, a secluded peninsular Arctic town on the coast of Hudson Bay known as “The Polar Bear Capital of the World”, to show the world what life is like among the black-nosed beauties:
The video is part of Google Maps’ “Street View Treks” series, which targets the world’s most impressive, under-appreciated or famous sites—The Great Barrier Reef, the Grand Canyon, Mt. Fuji, the capital of Nunavut. In this case, Google uses its Street View technology to offer armchair travelers a comprehensive virtual tour of the polar bears’ habitat. (Via PetaPixel)
In addition to some beautiful shots of Canadian tundra, the video focuses on polar bear preservation and the efforts of Polar Bears International, a conservation group trying to raise climate change awareness and preserve the polar ice floes.
But most of all, the video excels at capturing how endearingly gentle polar bears really are, which, in the end, may be the strongest selling point for Polar Bears International. Surely that’s the point of Google Maps’ cooperation in the project: when we see the damage we’re doing, we’re inclined to stop.
Go to full article: Google Street View Photographs the Lives of Polar Bears (Video)
Posted: 18 Mar 2014 12:18 PM PDT
Have you ever wondered what 4,000 bouncy balls would look like tumbling down a flight of stairs? One photographer did. And thank God for the internet, or else we may never know the answer:
Why conduct the experiment? So the story goes, the photographer‘s brother was home for Christmas leave from the navy. Wanting to crown his vacation with an unforgettable party, the brother bought the 4,000 rubber balls from Amazon. Aside from setting them down the stairs in a frenzy of color, it’s unclear what else they used them for, but this comment gives some suggestion:
Go to full article: Interesting Photo of the Day: 4,000 Bouncy Balls Dropped Down Stairs
Posted: 18 Mar 2014 10:36 AM PDT
The main benefit to working in Adobe Lightroom 5 is the control it gives photographers to batch edit images. This is especially useful when watermarking your work—why copy and paste each watermark when you can create a uniform logo and essentially hit “apply to all”? In the video below, Courtney Slazinik shows users how to get the most out of Lightroom’s watermarking tool:
How to Create Image Watermarks
More Tips For Styling Your Watermark
Now, when you select multiple images for exporting, head to the watermark option and select your preset to enable it on every image you export.
Lightroom 5 Preset deal ending soon:
Recently Trey Ratcliff released a great new collection of presets which is just as powerful and unique as the first and we were able to get 25% off for PictureCorrect readers until next Friday, simply remember to use the discount code correctdeal at checkout.
Found here: Trey's Lightroom Presets Volume 2
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