Light painting, or light drawing, is a photographic technique in which exposures are made by moving a hand-held light source while taking a long exposure photograph, either to illuminate a subject or to shine a point of light directly at the camera. Light painting can also describe works where the camera itself is moved during exposure. In our post today, light painting photographer Vincent Delesvaux will share with us some of his tips.
Usually before light painting, I make sure I’m powered up. I usually bring some water and small stuff to have enough energy for my night. I charge my batteries for my light and camera. Long exposure photography consumes a lot of batteries, I have 2 or 3 if I want to play all the night. A lot of time I know where I will spend my night doing pictures, but, not all the time. Sometimes, I hang around looking for some night vision. By night, things looks differently.
I work on the techniques I like before I get out to try them outside. So that I can work on the specifics of the project. I really love to light the subject, location, and to draw with light, or work with shadows. The location is important as it will define a big part of the story of the picture. Actually I don’t plan that much, I just know that I will work on a specific technics, zooming in the picture, shadows, lighting environment, drawing with light… I love to warm myself without any ideas, just to wake up my body and my mind. A lot of time I’ve started with ridiculous things and built the image step by step catching from the precedent picture this and this that I think will work together. Digital photography is a huge help to see your results and improved them in the next ones.
I definitively have tools I always bring with me: I use led lenser M7 and Spotlight shifter 1.0 to light up background, sparklers to draw, lighter, electroluminescent wire, colored gels and a grey filter which allow me to mix different powered light source on the same exposure. I love the 24/70 2.8 Nikon and sometimes I zoom on the same frame, it has also good quality. A good and light tripod is important and of course a remote control. I’ve been bringing a small camera to grab some “by the shot” lately.
I love LP because it give the opportunity of playing with reality and to change it, to make optical effect that can only exist through long exposure. We twist reality and it let see a different order of things. I love to deform my body or to make weird shadows on walls, also one lines vomiting of sparks are nice to me. LP interest me because it’s not only photography it’s an empowerment on location, you can do a lot of things and let see a more personal vision of things.
Using your remote control your able to make last the exposure the time you want (time exposure is bulb). First of all try your light tools and find the good setting to get a nice shape from them and not burning your exposition. Basically more powerful your tool is more you should close your diaphragm. Electroluminescent wire is not so powerful and I like to use it at f/5 100iso or putting the iso, sparklers are really more powerful and f/11 is nice to me, that’s why I use filter know to mix to different exposure setting on the same image.
Here are some photos and how I made them:
Nice to Be Alive
f/10 250 iso 259 sec. – Dark space, studio, no location.
Tools: Spotlight shifter 1.0 that I’ve diffused with a small piece of paper in order to be used with EL wire.
I’ve put some light on my body without moving myself (always good to breath before you start and then retain your respiration), then used the EL wire then moved a bit and repeat the light on my body. Same choreography one each side but just one part of my body. Minor crop and level through RAW.
F3.5 250 iso 90 sec – On a wall studio, no location.
Tools: Light with two spot diffused with blue gel and a ring of leds.
Alien Trinity is a vision of three shadow of arms and hands grouped together and which looks like a mask. I used my own hands by contorting me against the wall. First starting with the geometrical shape of my hands and arms, one by one starting at the left side, then right and finally the center one according to the right one. To terminate and give that deep impression of cosmos I used my led diffused circle tool around the lens turning it and remaining straight flashing forward. That’s it, minor crop and level through RAW.
A Very Heavy Load
f/11 100 iso 181 sec
Tools : sparklers Led lenser M7
When I draw I always start with the drawing in case I don’t like the way I’m doing it I don’t have to light the background. So on this one I’ve started from the right side making the square forms and the mooth, then eyes and then as fast as I could I terminate the draw before my sparklers extinguish. Then I light up the background, always from the side creating a shaving light to see the shadow and the texture of the environment and to give some relief to the image.
Be passionate, don’t think too much and do it until you felt asleep. Determination and energy are the keys, don’t be afraid of pushing your limits. There is a book from Lance Keimig which talks about night photography and light painting, is really complete, interviewing a bunch of light painters artists. Also they can have a look on Light Painting World Alliance (LPWA) where you can see the works of many LP artists around the globe and also Light Painting Photography Website who promote this art form.
I explore long exposure photography and the technique of light painting, interested in control of gestures, in recreating spaces and the relationship with reality. The bright movement for me serves as a bridge between the infinity of possibilities and the visible. I fill the void and reveal to the eyes a different temporarily.