super light

This week's photography class assignment was to play with shutter speed in order to capture motion in a creative way. I came up with two indoor ideas to accomplish both the freezing of motion and the exaggeration of it. I'll talk about my inspiration for this first one in this post. The second idea will be in the next post.

Image captured tripod mounted 1/22/10, 11:39pm • Canon 5D, Canon EF28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 USM • 40mm, f/4.0, 13 sec , ISO 50

Image captured tripod mounted 1/22/10, 11:39pm • Canon 5D, Canon EF28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 USM • 40mm, f/4.0, 13 sec , ISO 50

I was really excited that we had an assignment on motion because I've been wanting to try some "light painting". Basically that's the art of using a really long shutter speed to capture the motion of a light (often a flashlight) in a creative way. I've been reading a lot about this fun photo style and was finally inspired to action by the February Popular Photography magazine feature on the photo challenge winner.

Stephan Kolb submitted a photo of an illusion of 4 men in a game of tug-of-war. He strung a lit rope light between two fence posts and tripped his shutter. He then used a flashlight to trace 4 separate poses of his friend holding the rope as if he were tugging. After 139 seconds, he released his shutter to finish the shot. It turned out spectacular! You can't see the men at all, so it truly looks like a shot of glowing invisible men in a game of tug-of-war. I wish I could find a link to this shot for you to see!

ANYway, this inspired me to try out this clever technique in a different way. Chad helped me out on this one... I made him into a super-hero! (I'm pretty sure that made his day.) Once I had the settings the way I liked them, It took us several tries to get this shot right. Let's just say I now have even MORE appreciation for Kolb's winning shot in Pop Photo.

To capture this shot, I covered a small flashlight with blue tissue paper and used a 13 second exposure at my lowest ISO setting. I really like how it came out...very playful without the use of Photoshop! I also had fun capturing shots of writing with colored lights, which turned out to be much more challenging than I thought it would be. I'll have to try this technique again around the fourth of July. What a cool way to capture kids (or kids at heart!) playing with sparklers. 

Click this one to check out another light painting: