Painting With Light
I am going to be using this technique soon on a botanical series.
I would appreciate any suggestions from people familiar with this technique.
1) What tool do you use? I am thinking of a small MagLite with a black paper cone taped onto the end to narrow the beam of light so I can be precise. I will want to paint particular areas of a plant very selectively. Is this enough light? How about an opthalmascope\odoscope? I have used one for selective print flashing in the past. I love gadgets, so if you have anything cool, let me know!
2) Exposure. I am thinking of stopping down a fair amount, opening the shutter and paint the subject. Then close the shutter and give an overall exposure for the rest of the subject - basically a double exposure. I am not sure how long to let the light sit on a particular area. I guess I would light up an area, meter it with my spot meter and determine exposure normally by placing the results on a particular Zone.
3) I see these being printed on AZO and pt\pd. I would like to use the light to build up a lot of density in the areas that I'm painting and the overall exposure to be sure I get density in non-painted areas. Comments?
Is there anything that I'm missing?
I dabbled in this briefly when I got my first 4x5. I did it a few times, semi-successfully, but didn't keep on with it. Here's what I remember;
1) I think a small maglite will have too narrow a beam. Try a regular 25 watt incandescent bulb with a shade on it first. Make sure you have enough electrical cord do you can move all the way around the subject without pulling the camera over.
2) I used f/11 and left the shutter open, just using the lens cap to cover/uncover the lens, It was a bit easier than trying to fumble with shutter in the dark.
3) Its going to take a bit of trial and error to get the technique down, so I would suggest starting with 4x5 and contact print them on enlarging paper before you start burning up Azo. Plan on burning several sheets of film before you get it as you want.
4) Keep the light moving at a steady rate and try to cover the subject evenly.
After a couple or 3 times, you'll start getting the hang of it. But like I said, practice with an inexpensive set-up before you jump into azo or pt/pd.
Oh yeah, film speed - the article I read suggested APX 100 which is no longer available in sheets. I think you want a film speed around 100. Tri-X or HP5 may be a little too sensitive.
Its fun stuff. Maybe one of these days I will do it again. A friend used to a have a black 1957 Cadillac that I thought about doing, going all the way around the car. Never got to do it though but it was a pleasant thought.
Along these same lines...
I don't know what your intention is totally, but another interesting lighting technique (can be used with PWL as well) would be to use different levels of soft focus for different parts.
Everything is shot in a completely dark studio
Say for example your fill light is left normal. (1 pop)
Then you have another light that rakes across the objects, you put a soft focus filter on the camera and then trip that light (1 pop)
Then you put something else in front of the lens and trigger another light (1 pop)
And then you could do a mix with another light (1 pop soft, 1 pop hard) and get a mix effect...
You get where I'm going with this... If you're looking for ways to alter the look of the lighting, perhaps this is something you can apply?
Lastly... Polaroid is your friend. It'll get you in the ballpark especially if you're using small apertures and reciprocity/low light from painting tool is going to pose a problem.
have done it for 20 years....
try this link, and have fun.
Thanks for the link! Very nice nudes, but the other pages loaded too slowly for me to see anything.
For me, I am going to paint plants and flowers with light, so I will need a small light source with a focused beam of light. I'm thinking of a MagLite and forming something on the front that will be like a cone with different shaped openings for the light to come out. I'm thinking of using those metal things that bakers put at the bottom of frosting bags to make round and flat shapes. I could tape them to the front of the small AA-sized MagLite and put some cotton or something over the lens to soften the light as needed. This would give a pretty precise insturment for painting plants and flowers. A 25-watt light would be good for larger subjects, I think.
If the light from the MagLite is too intense, I suppose I could fashion something with an incandescent bulb......Or I could use a phaser set on stun(ning) - that would guarantee great results with scientific precision.
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first try this
then: the mag lite is fine I think. You shouldn't be too worried about the harshness of the light beam - as you are moving the light scourse around..
BUT be carefull about the inner side of the cone.. it has to be very dark - preferrebly black. That minimizes the risk of light streaks in "the air" when moving the torch around...
I use a very small light torch - so small that it could go directly in the flower...
and I used to lit the beam as well (don't know whether that is the right word)
the background I then painted with a bigger 25watt light scourse...
(use Fuji RTP II 64 iso tungsten - it has such beautifull saturated colours..)
Look at: http://www.leschphotography.com/ if you want to see a person who really has it down.
he may have it down, but the person who does lost america (http://www.lostamerica.com/lostframe.html) I think does a better job at balancing color.
Not to mention his subject matter is meaningful and strikes a very personal chord for me.
I use a flashlight, any flashlight. Turn off all the lights, lock the shutter open and shoot generally between 1 minute to 5 minutes, painting the scene or object with the light from the flashlight. It's neat!