Sunday, April 13, 2008

Painting with light

Painting with light

One of the things I have wanted to play with has been painting with light. First, you need darkness, and also flashlights and colored gels. Although darkness comes later each night (finally), the photographed spot has to be really dark with limited ambient light.

I chose the Olmstead Overlook, which is west of todays Liberty Park. Liberty Park was cut in half by the I90 freeway years ago, and the Olmstead Overlook is an area that could (and should) be rehabilitated. A beautiful place, which also is totally dark at night.

I set up to shoot a series of images using the Canon 40d, on a tripod. The images were taken at various settings, but all were timed exposures. The fastest exposure was at thirty seconds, and the slowest images taken were at the BULB setting at close to 5 minutes.

One series of images was facing north, in the totally dark environment. There was a little light left an hour after sunset, but other than that, nothing. I set up one shot at 30 seconds, at F11. While the exposure was in progress, I painted the right side wall with Lumiquest Gels (BLUE), and a strong flashlight. I took the next shot, painting the left side of the area in red, and then the pathway in green. All of the shots were thirty seconds. It got so dark after another twenty minutes that shots of around 5 minutes had to be used so that the forms of the rock walls could be seen.

Today I began to look at the series of images taken from last nights shoot. The colors were fairly well identified in the shots using the colored gels, so I added the red, green, and blue shots together to get something which lit up the pathway that was almost totally dark. The shot was cropped to eliminate some dark foreground, and too much sky. What I wound up with looks like something with a lot of drama (color), in an area I could hardly believe I was standing in. The area was dark, but with the flashlight illumination and the colored gels, the impact of painting the left and right walls with different colors (different shots each) the final form of colors really changed things.

I was thinking of using amber gels, but I’m glad I didn’t since the backdrop (Office depot walls) were illuminated by High Pressure Sodium streetlights.

I’m going to work on this “painting with light” some more, and another night visit to the Olmstead Overlook is definitely in order. This area is likely not to have been visited by a lot of people, but if it were rehabbed, I think it would be. It does get noisy with cars and trucks from the freeway, but this is quite an area to visit.

Painted URL:

John D. Moore, CPP
Spokane Night Scenes