This week we decided to do some light painting.  This is a lot of fun as you can take the same picture a hundred times and every time the picture comes out differently.

Light painting is really easy to do though so you keep going until you get a picture you like.  So how do you do it?

Well first and foremost you put your camera on a tripod.  Ideally you should attach a cable release so you don’t have to press the physical camera button to fire the trigger.  Next you find something to shoot.  You can pick anything, but what ever it is it needs to stay still for a number of seconds.

Now comes the fun part, you kill all the lights :-) Yup you need total darkness – so you need to do this at night.  Then you set the shutter speed on your camera to around 30 seconds and the aperture to a value that produces a totally black image after the exposure.

So when you take the picture you see nothing!  Now you get a flashlight (torch for you British folks) and while the shutter is open you point the flashlight at the subject and “paint it with light”.

What you light up is exposed.  It’s as simple as that.

The subject I chose for my light painting image was my piano (next to my camera this is my favorite toy).  I try to play every day so spend a lot of time on this instrument and I thought it would make a great picture.  I tried a number of different compositions but liked this one best.

Then I opened the shutter and pointed my flashlight.  I’d love to say this was the first image I shot, but it was actually around the 30th.  So it took 30 attempts to get an image I liked and decided to post.

Hope you like the image.

This week we decided to shoot “Gear”.  By gear we mean camera equipment.  The idea is you can shoot anything to do with photography, be it lights, lenses or even a camera.  This worked well for me as I needed to shoot one of my older cameras as I’m putting it up for sale.

For the set up I wanted to shoot my best camera (not posting the one I’m selling here), on a white “infinity” background.  An infinity background is basically something white that goes along the floor and then up the wall.  Ideally where the floor meets the wall it’s curved, so it doesn’t look like a sharp corner.  This way what ever is standing on the floor is backed by a seamless background.

While this sounds complicated it’s actually pretty easy to do.  I got some white paper and placed it on the table.  I then curved the back of the paper up to create a little infinity wall.

I then plopped the camera on the paper and got some lights out.  First I fired two lights (one on either side of the camera) through umbrellas.  This lit the camera really well but you could see the spines of the left umbrella reflected in the lens.  So I got a large portable reflector that that also acted as a big diffusor and put that in front of the umbrella to the left of the camera.  Then the spines disappeared and the lens looked great.

My first attempt came out really well and is the first image I’m posting below.

While this is a great gear shot, it’s not “that” interesting.  I wanted to come up with something a little more creative.  So I put some lights on the table next to the camera and set both lights to fire when they saw another flash go off.  By doing this the lights would fire when I took the shot.

I had no idea what this would look like but I really liked the shot, so this week I’m posting two images.

If you read my last posting, you will see that this weekend we decided to go to Mt. Rainier to shoot some waterfalls.  So it should be no surprise what this weeks photography topic is.

We visited three of the falls in Mt Rainier’s National Park picking ones that were relatively easy to get to.  Each fall offered us the opportunity to shoot the water from multiple locations offering different views each time, also each fall had upper and lower falls or moving water that you had to shoot separately.  The three we visited were: Christine Falls, Narada Falls and Myrtle Falls.

The picture I chose to post for the weekly shot was the bottom half of Christine Falls.  The bridge at the top that frames the falls is for cars and comfortably is two cars wide – this hopefully gives you some idea of the hight.

Great experience and loads of fun.

We’ve basically gone completely off the reservation now as each Friday we decide on the topic for the weekend :-) – No more list!  This is OK I think as the purpose of the Image a Week exercise was to get us to shoot and I’d rather shoot something I want than something I don’t (that I came up with months ago).

Anyway, this week the subject is reflection.  I had a great scene in mind on Thursday, I was going to shoot this house that’s not far from me that sit’s above a small lake.  Every morning I drive past it and it just looks beautiful.  But due to Abi being ill last night we didn’t get up early this morning – the whole house over slept.  I needed to get up early as I need to walk on someone else’s property to shoot the house – naughty I know, but I figured if I got there early Sunday morning I could grab the shot and get out without getting busted!  But as we had a late start no image.

So what to shoot?  In the end I set up a number of still life scenes and picked this one to post.  This was surprisingly easy to do, I got an old framed poster in the garage and took it apart grabbing the perspex sheet from the frame.  Placed that on the kitchen table and got some colored card for the background.  I set up two lights with big umbrellas on either side of the scene and then put a number of “things” in front of the card.  Every now and then I changed the card (for a difference color) and kept shooting different house hold items.

In the end there were two I liked, this one below and one of three glasses of water.  In the end I opted for “Mr Egg”.

By now we’ve thrown the original list away and started making up new topics on Friday.  I don’t know what I was thinking when I wrote the original list but we didn’t like the subjects anymore.  But carrying on we just needed a new topic for the week.  Week 8 we decided should be “Motion”.  We had a long conversation of what do we mean by motion and we talked about capturing something that looks like it’s moving.  Pretty straight forward really, but what to shoot?

Saturday afternoon it came to me.  What about an action shot of James on one of his skateboards?  That would be great?  Trouble is James isn’t big on action – too much like his dad.  But he does take the board out and go round the neighborhood.  So I came up with this cunning plan.  Lisa drives her car with me in the trunk with a camera and light.  The trunk is open and behind the car James is riding his skateboard – I mean how hard can this be?   The answer was actually pretty easy!

We discussed doing it Saturday evening, but James wanted to wash his hair first – which I should point out is crap coz he them put his beany hat on!  Go figure!  So Sunday was chosen as the day.

We needed to take the shot late evening as the sun was going down, as I needed to use a slower shutter speed so the background looked blurry showing James was moving.  If he was in bright sunlight the shutter would be quick and it would look like he was stationary on the board and I just took a shot – that wouldn’t be “motion” at all.

So 7pm Sunday night arrived and out we all go.  I jump in the trunk with Abi who’s my lighting assistant.  Lisa is behind the wheel and James is all clean in his beany :-( ready to go.  We found a road in our neighborhood that had a nice hill that wasn’t too busy or steep.  James and I tried the location the previous night and he reached almost 30 miles an hour.

So back we went to get the shot.

In total it took us three runs down the hill where I shot off around 40 shots a run – just pointing at James and holding the shutter button down.  The first run helped me get the exposure right, the second two helped me get the one in focus picture that looked great.  We quickly found out that shooting him while in Shade looked best, and every now and then his face would hit some sunlight coming through the trees to light him up.  If only I could time it right to get THAT shot!  Then I wouldn’t need any lights.

On the third run we nailed it and I got the picture below.  This has very little post processing.  It’s pretty much right out of the camera so we were lucky I guess.

I’m REALLY pleased with the shot and feel it does capture the feeling of motion – even James liked it.