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.

I was due a trip out with the camera so I discussed some locations with some of the guys at work. Originally we thought a trip to Mt Rainier for a sunset picture and maybe some star night shots would be cool.  I did some investigation and it sounded like the flowers on the mountain were in bloom and the night skies were clear and you could even shoot the Milky Way over the top of Rainier – all was looking great.  Then we heard that the mosquitos were out in force, someone said you need to go in long pants with shirt sleeves as they are vicious early evening.  We were also told to take mosquito spray as sleeves wouldn’t stop them!  Once I told people about this, numbers of interested parties started to drop.

Taking this into consideration along with the time it takes to get home off the mountain in the dark (probably around 4 hours) we figured we wouldn’t get home until very early morning.  Numbers went down again.

In the end it was just Adam and I – and to be completely truthful, neither of us fancied facing the mosquitos or the scary long drive home.  But we still wanted to go!  In the end we opted for a waterfall trip to the same location.  We could leave mid morning, get there early afternoon, shoot some waterfalls and be home before the sunset.  I tried to get others engaged but nobody wanted to come.

So Saturday morning at 11am I picked up Adam and off we went.  The journey there was very long – took about 3:30 hours which is way too long, coming home we did it in 2:30 hours which was much better.  Why so long getting there? Well you can blame my satellite navigation for that – it got us totally lost, but coming home I remembered a faster route and that saved us an hour.

When we got there it was around 72 degrees and packed with people, so parking was a pain, but we found some GREAT waterfalls and got LOTS of shots.  For most of the afternoon the sun was pretty strong and exposures were tough, so we shot lots of bracketed pictures, always with our neutral density filters fitted to the camera.  These gave us nice long exposures and gave the images that ribbony look as the water went over the fall.   This meant that all pictures had to be taken on tripods as the typical exposure was well over a second.

It was quite funny to see all these other people there with expensive cameras and lenses taking pictures.  None of them had tripods and you could see the frustration in their faces, and sometimes their jealousy when we set up next to them.

I think I used the same lens the whole time, I had my ultra wide 10-24mm lens with a 6 stop neutral density filter on the camera all day.  We shot at f/16 or smaller and had our cameras on the tripod being triggered by a cable release or timer.

When I got home I manually blended bracketed pictures together to get the image I wanted, that way I removed heavily shadowed areas and brought back blown out highlights.  I could of used HDR software for this but I usually find the produced images look really “HDRy” (if that’s a word), and I wanted very natural, realistic pics.  You can view the shots below and tell me if you think I achieved that goal.

Anyway I took LOTs of pictures, and ended up with a nice dozen or so I really liked.  Here are my favorites.

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”.