“Painting” in the Photo Sense

Painting with Light Painting with Light


This assignment for Advanced Techniques is one I’ve had exposure to before. In high school, I had many friends that enjoyed photography and goofing around with it, so we would take small lights and write things in the air or draw somewhat inappropriate things on each other, all in good photographic fun. But people use light painting for more than just goofiness. It often has an effect on the mood, helping to place the viewer in the scene. It also can show the movement of objects. Say a car is driving past at night with their headlights on, if you leave the shutter open the entire time they’re moving across the frame, it will look like the lights are streaks of paint (hence the name) in the sky. Popping with strobes will freeze a certain moment in the time the shutter is open, but the beauty of it is that you can keep moving and changing things within the frame to either add more color, more light, or possibly more ghost images of a person. The possibilities are pretty much endless, which is why we spent over two hours photographing just to get a couple dozen images. It takes a lot of imagination and time, but I think the effort is worth it. In my group’s case it gave us a trippy, “the forest is alive” look that we imagine a person tripping on acid would see. (Probably a good trip.) But you can paint things more realistically by not gelling the strobe with extreme colors. We could all use a bit more color though couldn’t we? Yes, yes we could.


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