Sunday, May 3, 2009

Smokies After Dark


During my recent trip to the Smokies I stayed out after dark on 2 occasions. This was one of them, it’s the old Mill at Roaring Fork.

I’m a big fan of Lightpainting and have introduced the technique to many of my friends and a few workshop students. Lightpainting the landscape is somewhat difficult to tech. You need to be aware of and juggle the variables, strength of your light source, and color temperature of your light source when using multiple lights. At the same time you are dealing with diminishing light as evening becomes night. You also need to constantly adapt to the changing conditions.

In general my formula is:

Start 10 minutes after sunset and shoot for the next 20 to 30 minutes. During this time keep refining your technique and check your histogram. It is quite easy to blow out your highlights. Shooting beyond this time you lose the slight blue color in the sky.

It is not necessary to “paint” every aspect of the composition. In general the subject is not meant to look like a “flash” picture. Paint your subject with light using brush strokes.

In regard to my picture above, I consider it a “fun” shot. The light source was a 2 million candle power spotlight with a homemade snoot. It was probably a little more light than I needed, but you work with the tools at your disposal.

If you decide to try this, consider that many parks are not open after dark and the average park ranger is going to assume you are spotlighting wildlife and respond accordingly.

If you want to learn about Lightpainting one of the best resources on the web is Dave Black’s site.
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