This week's post is a guest post written by photography comrade Russel Klimas.
What’s up fam. My name is Russell Klimas and today we are going to talk about light painting photography. I like to consider myself an expert in this field of photography as I’ve been published with BBC, Fox, and the Daily UK. I’ve also given a Tedx Talk on the subject. I hope you enjoy learning a little bit of what I love so much.
Let’s start with what is light painting photography, it’s a style of long exposure photography where you use lights to create an image in your camera. You’ve most likely seen some basic light painting photos with car lights, star trails or people writing their names with sparklers. We are going to go WAY deeper than that today. You might be wondering with the niche of light painting (which you might have never heard of) why do I, Russell Klimas, like it so much? To me capturing seemingly impossible images in camera gets me so excited. It pushes me to increase my skill to become better at photography and share this world with everyone. I never get tired of seeing people’s faces when they see what we created together on the back of a camera, it feels like real life magic.
So today I’m going share some of my techniques with you, discuss the tools that I use, and show you the pictures that came out of using those tools.
In this picture I used a fluorescent safety tube which you can get from Home Depot for $3.50, some wax paper, to diffuse the light, and a flashlight inside the tube. I also had a sparkler attached to the end. ISO 400, F 2.8, Shutter Speed 1 second. This was all created in camera, how cool is that?
To create your own tube watch my youtube tutorial here. To specifically create this effect you can either use a wireless trigger to perfectly time and control your shot or you can put your camera on a timer and set your shutter speed between 1 second to 30 seconds on most cameras. I normally use a trigger so I can be behind the model light the firework turn on the flashlight and spin around the tube and then end the exposure with the trigger. You can’t see me because I’m behind her and she is wearing a dress to hide my feet.
Next up we have a fiber optic whip. You can get all sorts of different versions of these, but I personally get mine from Ants On A Melon. With the whip and flashlight I also use a Universal Connector from Light Painting Brushes to allow for ease of use. ISO 500, F4, Shutter Speed 17 seconds. I also used a Portrait Light from Light Painting Brushes to light her and the rocks around her. It’s basically a diffused light bar similar to an ice light but is powered by a flashlight instead. Once I had my model get in a comfortable position I simply shook the fiber optic whip around until I was satisfied then hid it behind the rock and lit my model with the Portrait Light. The Portrait Light is a scanning type tool I use to scan my model after the creative light painting and shape the light in my environment.
For this last image I used a plexiglass blade which comes from Light Painting Brushes and a flashlight on strobe mode. Examples flashlights can be found here and here. This image was taken right outside Las Vegas and I used the city’s ambient light to expose my scene. At the same time I made similar movements on both sides of my models body to create these plume feather wings. ISO 4000, F 2.8, Shutter Speed 17 seconds.
These are only some examples of the possibilities that you can do with light painting. If you don’t want to have people be your subjects it works great on cars, products, and even houses! If you want to get really creative you can do stuff with drones too. The sky is the limit when it comes to light painting in my opinion and nothing beats the feeling of nailing a picture in camera. If you haven’t tried light painting before or have some experience I would love to see your work, or if you have a comment or question please share and I’m happy to entertain either one.