Photography transcript 8 — Painting with light —

[Cam­era clicks]

This is an audio tran­scrip­tion — Spelling, punc­tu­a­tion and gram­mer may not be perfect

Hi there every­one and wel­come to the 8th Pho­tog­ra­phy Pod­cast on‚ 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,‚ 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 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,‚ 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.
[Cam­era clicks]


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