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Light Painting

Guest Article By: Stephen Poff

light painting
Light Painting Photo by Stephen Poff 

Exif Info:

  • Shutter Speed: 1/60
  • Aperture: f/16
  • ISO: 100
  • Focal Length: 35mm
  • Camera: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi

When I started this little series I thought I'd wax poetic about inspiration and where we as artists find our muse. But the more I thought about it, the more I figured that the photos should speak for themselves.

This year has been about being more creative and learning new techniques that I didn't have the opportunity to use with my current clients. I feel like I've come a long way towards that this year. And what better way to learn than from the best... you guys!

Strobist Info: Alien Bee's B800 through a large soft box just above camera and two SP Studios strobes at left and right behind subject. I also had a Canon 430ex in the book at 1/32 for a slight fill under the eyes, but in the dodge and burn process I think rendered unnoticeable.

Edit: I would also like to note (since I've had some emails and comments about the lighting setup) that I was going for a look that combined different white balances, but I didn't want one light source to contaminate another.

I wanted everything not being lit by the "book" to fall into a blue cast and then the book would "light" the face and jacket in a neutral tone. 

I could have done that by setting my white balance to tungsten and then gelling my key-light with a CTO. That would have turned the back-lights blue but I wanted some of the key light to turn blue as well. 

So here's the secret. Shoot RAW. When you shoot Raw, you don't have to choose a white balance until you process your photo. After pulling the photo into Adobe Raw, I processed a "blue" version and a "correct" version. I then laid the two over each other in Photoshop and masked in the "correct" color where I wanted it to show up. Hope that helps. 

Here's another one:
light painting photography
Light Painting Photo by Stephen Poff

Exif Info:

  • Shutter Speed: 1/13
  • Aperture: f/4
  • ISO: 400
  • Focal Length: 28mm
  • Camera: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi
And one more:

While geocaching the other day I discovered this wonderful little trail to nowhere and just had to come back to shoot here. 

Strobist info: I found a little patch of sky through the trees to light my face and then back-lit it with a Canon 430ex to the back of subject at camera left.

light painting photography tutorial
Light Painting Photo by Stephen Poff

Exif Info:

  • Shutter Speed: 1/125
  • Aperture: f/9
  • ISO: 200
  • Focal Length: 28mm
  • Camera: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi

Strobist info: Alien Bees B800 through a large softbox overhead and slightly in front of subject.

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