One of my favorite techniques is light painting photography. There are two basic ways I do light painting. I will either shoot under a full moon and use powerful flashlights. Or, I will shoot at twilight and use radio-controlled flash units.
When shooting under a full moon, I can use extremely long bulb exposure times, which give me time to walk around my subject and shine my flashlights to paint the object with color. When shooting at twilight, it is much brighter than a lunar evening. Therefore, you need faster exposure times. Subsequently, you will not have time to walk around the subject with flashlights. Instead, I use radio-controlled flash units with colored gels attached; this enables me to color my motif with short bursts of flash while maintaining fast exposure times.
Here’s an example of my light painting technique executed at twilight. I used five radio-controlled Quantum Trio flash units to illuminate this scene. I placed two flashes on either side of the Volkswagen Beetle. I placed another flash on the interior of the car. I set two more flashes behind the vehicle to illuminate the trees in the background.
Once the composition is set up, I can switch out the colors of the flash gels to create different color schemes. One of my favorite color schemes is the red, green, and blue motif. The three-color RGB scheme becomes a photographic metaphor on how we view contemporary photos. Red, green, and blue light is the way we see pictures on phone and computer screens. Small dots of RGB color are used to create these screens. When they are combined, they create the vibrant colors needed to view the photo; this is called the additive color model by physicists. The triptych also echoes the three colors of the model.
Here’s a triptych a Volkswagen Beetle in a salvage yard off Highway 63 near Westphalia, Missouri. I shot all three photos of this scene with a Sony ILCE-7RM4 camera with a Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM lens at ƒ/6.3 with a 6-second exposure at ISO 200. The processing was done with Adobe Lightroom CC. I assembled the triptych with Adobe Photoshop CC.
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