‚This is an audio transcription — Spelling, punctuation and grammer may not be perfect
Hi there everyone and welcome to the 8th Photography Podcast on Photography.ca.‚ My name is Marko.‚ We are coming to you from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and today is January 10, 2007.‚ Well, first off, I would like to wish everyone a very happy new year.‚ We were slightly delayed in getting this out because it was the holiday season, but we are back on top of our game and I expect, I intend, my goal is one podcast a week for 2007.‚ So, if I fail, if I miss a week, please feel free to send me your comments, firstname.lastname@example.org.‚ You can leave any comments there.‚ In fact, you can also comment on our bulletin board about anything you like, this podcast, photography in general, at Photography.ca and you will find the link to the blog there as well and to the forum as well.
For today’s show, it is pretty much an experiment, an experiment that I did actually.‚ For the longest time, I have been wanting to experiment with painting with light.‚ For those people that do not know what it is, painting with light is illuminating a person or an object with light.‚ In order to expose a photograph, in case we do not know or we need a reminder, we need light.‚ We could leave a shutter open for two days straight in a dark room and there will be no exposure at all on that film, which means you can leave it open for two days, close the film, put it back to frame 1, for example, and then just shoot again normally and there will be no difference at all because no light hit that film.‚ We need light to expose a photograph.‚ Usually, that light will come from the sun, it will come from a flash, it will come from ambient room light, and that is how we light our subjects.‚ With painting with light, we photograph in a dark or very dark environment and then we manipulate the light to light the subject or model or whatever we are photographing.
The typical way to do this is with a flashlight or some type of light source where you will leave the camera on a tripod because you do not want it to move at all and you will just outline the object or paint in the object or illuminate the object in some way.‚ I should tell you that this is not the easiest thing to do.‚ I should also tell you that if you are lucky enough to have a digital camera, it is way easier with digital camera because you could just do your experiment and if it works, yahoo, keep it; if it does not, just dump it and start again.‚ Without a doubt, one of the hardest parts of this experiment would be the exposure.‚ How do you determine the exposure?‚ Well, if you are using a digital camera, it is just so easy.‚ You do not even really need a light meter or expose.‚ You just outline the object with a flashlight or a penlight or something and if it is well exposed, you see it; if it needs more exposure you give it more and if it needs less you give it less.‚ If you are using a traditional‚ camera, it is pretty hard or it is much harder actually, but how I suggest doing it is using an ambient light meter, handheld.‚ What you would do is you would probably use a second person, that would be easiest.‚ You get that person to shine the light source.‚ In my case, I used flashlights, we will talk about that shortly, but anyhow you would get that person to shine the light source and then you meter the light source and you have to go through the entire exposure with that reading.‚ If, for example, it said f/5.6 at 1 second, that would be f/5.6 at 1 second for that single spot of light.‚ If you were outlining an object, you would have to go around the perimeter of that object, if that is what you wanted to do let us say, for 1 second at a time holding the flashlight pretty steady and moving it at a 1-second increment.‚ Pretty difficult to do, again, that is why digital makes it so much easier.‚ The effects are amazing and one of my favorite words in the English language is serendipity, which means the thrill of finding something unsought.‚ This often happens with painting with light.‚ We will try to get one effect and after it is over and we see the results, something really weird and wacky and wonderful happens.‚ It is part of the art and you improve on it.‚ If you get a result that is pretty good, you try and do it again and get it better and better and better and hone your result until the picture is fantastic.
Here is how I did my experiment.‚ I bought a bunch of smallish flashlights and I just wanted to illuminate different objects during the exposure while my camera was on a tripod. ‚Okay, I bet some people are wondering, “All right, all right, get to it.‚ How did you do it, Marko?‚ How did you do it?”‚ Well, I do not know if I did it the right way or the wrong way, but I sure as heck had a lot of fun doing it and here is what I did. ‚I purchased a lot of small flashlights.‚ My goal was really to outline the perimeter of the object and to just get it to glow.‚ This was pretty darn difficult actually because it was hard to control the spray or the fineness of the light, let us say, so I bought a Maglite and other different types of flashlights, all small, and I tried to control, let us say, the nozzle by making it really, really thin.‚ I tried using a funnel.‚ I tried using a cap.‚ Everything I used, the light still was not fine enough for me, so I really was not 100% satisfied with the result.‚ I still had a good time.‚ I still had time.‚ I think a couple of the results are cool, but I did not have the ultimate precision tool.‚ I have heard that there is something out there called a Hosemaster, which also happens to be my pornonym, a hosemaster, but it like costs several thousand dollars for this machine and apparently using fiber optics, it really gives this very controlled, fine stream of light in which you can outline objects.‚ I did not have it so I went to the department store, spent 20 or 25 bucks on some flashlights and had a blast, actually.‚ I used these flashlights to outline certain objects.‚ At first, I started with something that was alive.‚ I actually started with my cat and I tried to make the spray of light as fine as possible outline the cat and the result was actually pretty cool.‚ It was cool because you need a long exposure.‚ When you close all the lights or get it really dark and you place your camera on a tripod, you really need a long exposure.‚ A cat is a living thing and a cat, unless it is sleeping, it is going to move.‚ What happened was, I tried to outline my cat and my cat would move throughout many of the exposures.‚ Although that was not what I wanted, serendipity, word of the day, I really had a cool effect with one shot in particular whereby the cat was still for, let us say, 4 seconds of an 8-second exposure and then moved his head to another direction and was pretty still then too.‚ You actually have a ghosting effect with two heads, which is really, really interesting.‚ So, that was my first test.‚ I used — I think it was the Maglite actually.‚ I bought two size Maglites, the mini Maglite and the medium-sized Maglite and I outlined them both.‚ I did about five shots with the cat.‚ I will probably put one up, so you can give me your comments.‚ Let me know if you like it.
My next test was with a model, actually.‚ I used a live model and, again, I tried to outline.‚ My outlining attempts again, it was difficult to control the spray of light because I really wanted to get fine detail and it was difficult.‚ If you are not interested in the fine detail, you could just go over various aspects of the body, legs, face, hands, breasts, whatever, and you can get good effects.‚ For me, my best effect happened when I actually used a laser light.‚ I bought one of these $3 lasers.‚ I have cats, too.‚ My cats love to chase the thing.‚ During the exposure, I outlined the model with a laser light and that effect was really cool in my opinion.‚ Again, it was not perfect.‚ The control of the light was not perfect, so hard to do perfectly, but the result is quite good and I am actually pleased with the result.‚ Again, serendipity being what it is, we also tried using a crystal.‚ We had the model hold the crystal and then we shone the light using the laser light through the crystal and then that diffracted light hit the model in all kinds of weird and cool ways.‚ I did a few exposures with that as well, which you will also see on the blog.‚ Really, it was a combination of both outlining the model, trying to get the best result I could with the light, holding it steady as I could, moving my hand as steady as I could, and then shining the light through the crystal, which also illuminated the model and gave a really very interesting result.‚ If anyone wants to try to do exactly what I did, please, enjoy, experiment.‚ Take my idea.‚ Go with it.‚ Run with it.‚ Make it better.‚ Do something fun.‚ Do something artful.‚ Do something different.‚ Do something interesting.‚ That is what this podcast is all about, fine art photography, making art from photography, and really having a lot of fun with it.
Next, I wanted to try to outline different objects outside.‚ This was just the wrong time of year for it, I must say.‚ I mean it is freezing in Montreal.‚ My camera died.‚ I was using a digital camera.‚ It died in mid-shoot.‚ My hands were freezing.‚ I highly suggest doing this in the summertime.‚ If any of you are lucky enough to be in California or the Middle East or somewhere warm, enjoy yourself.‚ Go outside and do it.‚ I have seen painting with light photographs where you could paint a whole tree or a mountain.‚ The results are really, really interesting as well.‚ You can use even a flash.‚ You can use a portable flash and just really pop that flash at different levels of intensity, again, for great effect.‚ Take a light meter.‚ Do an exposure, let us say, of the tree and then just try popping it.‚ Try getting as close to the original exposure as possible and then playing with it and modifying it from there.‚ One thing that is very cool, which we mentioned at the beginning of the podcast is that you need light to expose the photograph.‚ So, while I was lighting certain objects outside, I wore completely black.‚ I got in my burglar uniform, put on some black jeans, black sweater, black hat, black gloves, and that way I was actually able to manipulate the light during the exposure and walk through the shutter without my body affecting the exposure. ‚Because my body was so black, it was so dark, not enough to register on the camera sensor.‚ I was able to walk like in front of the lens with no problems whatsoever.‚ For one of my tests outside, I tried to light a birdcage and I used the flashlight, one of the smaller ones.‚ I tried my best to only light the birdcage and the result is pretty interesting.‚ It is okay.‚ Like I said, my hands were freezing.‚ I moved quickly, but I did spend like over an hour outside, maybe even an hour and a half just trying different experiments, trying and looking, trying and looking, and it was quite interesting.
Like I said, I would have loved to have had more control over the light, over the fineness of the point of light only because that is what I was after.‚ If you have an image in your head, you always try and achieve that image, but it is not really necessary.‚ If you want to just light something thicker and not get the fine detail, you could also do some really interesting results.‚ I know that some people have also put like filters, soft focus filters on front of their camera during the exposure and that softens the whole thing up as well.‚ I did not do it this time, but it is something that I would definitely consider doing in the future because I do intend to try this again, probably in the summertime when it is warmer.‚ For another object that I tried to light, I tried to light a boot.‚ I took a boot and I put in the window, in a window rather, and again I tried to outline the boot and the result is pretty interesting.‚ I think it is interesting.‚ You can leave a comment and tell me what you thought as well.‚ Again, I took a light meter, shone it, took a base exposure, and just try to go over the entire boot at a regular rate whatever the exposure told me.‚ I tried to deal with about a half a second or a second and then go around the entire object for that half a second, leaving it half a second at every point while tracing the object in effect.
If you are going to light an inanimate object, in a way, that is kind of easy because there is one less variable of movement that you have to contend with.‚ When I lit the cat and the model, the exposures were like from 8 seconds to 30 seconds.‚ Those models — your cat cannot be perfectly still for 30 seconds, a human cannot either, usually a 60th of a second is the max you can normally shoot someone without like a ghosting effect or a movement effect.‚ They were pretty still, but there is still movement involved, so that is a variable that may add or detract in the photo, but it is a variable you need to be aware of.‚ When you are dealing with an inanimate object like a boot, a birdcage, a tree, a small hill or mountain, there is no ghosting effect, so you could really take your time.‚ You could put your camera on bulb with a shutter.‚ You could leave it open for minutes at a time.‚ The maximum I did was 30 seconds, but you could leave it open for minutes for sure, minutes.
That pretty much sums up my experience with this test with painting with light.‚ I would absolutely love to hear some posts or comments or send me some pictures, post it on the blog or post it in the bulletin board or send it to me by email, email@example.com.‚ I would love to get some feedback on your own experiments or maybe if you took something away from this podcast or you have something to add or you think, “You know what?‚ Marko, you could’ve done something differently or better,” I would love to hear it.‚ So, please shoot me a comment and it will be my pleasure as always to comment back.
That about wraps it up for our first podcast of the year and our 8th podcast in total.‚ Again, please communicate via the blog, via the bulletin board.‚ We intend to do this once a week.‚ Next week, I am not sure what the topic is going to be yet, but I have an idea that it might have to do with framing, ooohhh framing, and the possibilities and the different types of composition and/or artfulness that you could create with various framing techniques.
That about does it for me.‚ Thanks so much for listening.‚ Keep on shooting everyone and we will be back next week.‚ Bye for now.