Light Trails & Drawing Painting Photogrphy


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Slides from a talk that I and ,Jim presented at last year's inaugural Leeds Photocamp, about long exposure photography, light trails and painting with light/torches etc.

Was written in a bit of a hurry, so appologies if its a bit lacking in detail, feel free to ask questions tho :-)

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Light Trails & Drawing Painting Photogrphy

  1. 1. Jim Moran & Rick Harrison by
  2. 2. Long Exposure Principles <ul><ul><li>Camera capable of long exposures </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>ideally 15sec + </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tripod (optional) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>alternatively balance on wall etc </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Remote Trigger / Timer (optional) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>sharper image - avoid camera shake </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1 or more friends </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>to act as look-out / safety - places you shoot often dimly lit and quiet! </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Neutral Density Filters (optional) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Allow longer exposure @ dusk, less harsh light </li></ul></ul></ul>Required / useful kit
  3. 3. Long Exposure Principles <ul><ul><li>Low ISO </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Less grainyness, and ensures longest exposure. Switch off Auto-Iso! </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use Aperture/Shutter/Manual Priority </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Aim for at least 15 seconds. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The smaller the aperture, the better street lights look (more starry) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Find a solid surface </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Either a tripod or a wall - anything to stop camera shake and blur </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use a remote trigger, or timer mode </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Sharper images when not touching the camera </li></ul></ul></ul>Camera Setup
  4. 4. Light Trails <ul><ul><li>Example shots </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How it's done </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Post-processing tips </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Good subjects </li></ul></ul>Long exposure shots of moving light sources
  5. 5. (c) Jim Moran
  6. 6. (c) Deborah Moran
  7. 7. (c) Rick Harrison
  8. 8. (c) Jim Moran
  9. 9. (c) Rick Harrison
  10. 10. (c) Rick Harrison
  11. 11. (c) Rick Harrison
  12. 12. Light Trails <ul><ul><li>Pick a good spot </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Composition (of traffic flow, buildings, features - general interestingness) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pick a good time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>You want a fair bit of traffic - late autumn / winter / early spring best </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>If you want sky in the photo - aim for dusk / dawn on a clear day </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Set up the camera </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Autofocus and (if possible) set focus to manual to stop hunting </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Wait for good traffic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Experiment with different levels of traffic to see what you like. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Note traffic lights / jams will stop vehicles and leave them in shot. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shoot! </li></ul></ul>How it's done (traffic)
  13. 13. Light Trails <ul><ul><li>White Balance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>In urban areas, chances are your photo is very Orange. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Up to you if you like it that way. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>If not, you can change the white balance to remove the cast…. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>You can set white balance in camera beforehand if you have some gray/white card. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Alternatively in photoshop </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Change colour temperature in Camera Raw </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Use the &quot;grey&quot; eye-dropper in Camera Raw / Levels / Curves on a patch of road </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>Post Processing (traffic)
  14. 14. Star Trails
  15. 15. (c) Jim Moran
  16. 16. Star Trails <ul><ul><li>Check the forecast for a clear night </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Clear sky required! </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>New moon good </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pick a good location </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Want interesting foreground to the effect - trees, buildings etc </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>If possible, avoid street light pollution </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Somewhere safe - your camera will be there a long time! </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Find the North Star </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>All stars revolve around it, so creates spinning effect </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Go Wide! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>you'll want lots of sky, and its hard to compose in the dark! </li></ul></ul></ul>How it's done
  17. 17. Star Trails <ul><ul><li>One shot technique </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Bulb mode required - keep the shutter open for hours (You may need a remote trigger with a lock on it to do this) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Multi-shot technique </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Take lots of long shots, sequentially (eg 10-20 mins each shot) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A timer remote is very good for this, otherwise you need to return! </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Load up all shots as separate layers in photoshop </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Set blending mode of each layer to &quot;lighten&quot; (except bottom image) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Light trails will show through from each image. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>You may need to mask things out in the foreground. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tips </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Don't shine a torch on the camera at the end! </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Avoid lights in the frame - streetlights etc </li></ul></ul></ul>How it's done (pt2)
  18. 18. Light Writing Using long exposures combined with torches to “draw” into photos
  19. 19. (c) Rick Harrison
  20. 20. (c) Rick Harrison
  21. 21. (c) Rick Harrison
  22. 22. (c) Rick Harrison
  23. 23. (c) Rick Harrison
  24. 24. (c) Rick Harrison
  25. 25. Light Writing <ul><ul><li>Find writing implements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Torches / Lasers / Sparklers / Fireworks </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>You can re-colour these using flash / lighting gels </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Find a good location </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Interesting backgrounds / foregrounds </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Clothing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>If you don’t want to appear in the photo wear dark clothes </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Plan & Practice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>As you’ll be facing the camera everything will be back-to-front </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Get Drawing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Start the (long) exposure, then draw with light while facing the camera </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Experiment! </li></ul></ul>How it's done
  26. 26. Light Writing <ul><ul><li>Work out the photo boundaries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Get a friend to look thru the view finder, so you can work out where to stand to be at each edge of the frame </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Expect lots of failed attempts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>It’s quite hard visualizing the invisible, and gauging time! </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use manual focus </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Use autofocus to get the focus, then switch to manual to stop hunting </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cheating with Photoshop </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Make sure you get a shot with none of your writing in it. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Layer your shots over the top, set to “lighten” blending mode. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Mask the different elements in. </li></ul></ul></ul>Tips
  27. 27. Light Painting Using long exposures combined with torches / flashes to light up dark places – eg buildings, tunnels, trees
  28. 31. Other interesting long exposure effects
  29. 32. (c) Jim Moran
  30. 33. (c) Jim Moran
  31. 34. (c) Jim Moran