Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Day 14: Light Sabers (or Light Painting, sort of)

Today's challenge was supposed to be light painting. The idea is that you turn off the lights, set your camera for a very long exposure, then "paint" an object using a flashlight beam. It's really cool if you can pull it off. I've seen some great examples.

They were not mine. The best I came up with in the admittedly limited time I devoted to the exercise was this.

children's colorful top in the dark

Pffft. As the kids' episode of Phineas and Ferb came to an end, so did my light painting.

Instead, we did this.

children using flashlights as light sabers and a camera at long shutter speed

I think the Expert Photography guy would classify this as light graffiti, so I might just give myself a free pass on day 26.

To my kids, this is light saber photography. You achieve it by having your light saber fight with flashlights in the dark at a long exposure (very slow shutter speed).

I highly recommend this as a way to entertain your kids. We went to our basement on a dark, rainy day, and I covered the one basement window. I set my ISO to 400 and my aperture to f/5.6, then put the camera on a tripod. I used a remote, but that really isn't necessary if your subjects will be moving--you won't keep them in focus anyway, so there's not much need to avoid camera shake.

children using flashlights as light sabers and a camera at long shutter speed

Most of these photos were taken with a shutter speed of 5 or 10 seconds (5" or 10" on your camera). If we used a longer exposure, the flashlights illuminated the whole scene.

In post-processing, I darkened the blacks in these photos to further reduce the illumination created by the bright flashlights. Next time we do this, I would like to try with pen lights that don't shine so brightly.

To get the pink light saber, my daughter held a piece of pink tissue paper over her flashlight.

I realized too late that I should have had them remove their white socks.

child doing cartwheels in the dark with flashlights with camera at long shutter speed

This is when we started getting really creative. We were using small flashlights, and I had my daughter tuck one flashlight in each sock, then turn cartwheels.

circles of light using flashlights in the dark and a long camera shutter speed

When trying the cartwheel trick, my son had the next brainstorm. He took off his socks, put a flashlight in each, then used the sock to swing the flashlight in patterns.

light patterns made using flashlights in the dark and a long camera shutter speed

My daughter ran and swung a flashlight sock in this one. I think it looks like the flight of a spastic firefly.

light patterns made using flashlights in the dark and a long camera shutter speed

For me, light painting was a bust. Light sabers, however, were a huge hit and created some beautiful patterns. Next time your kids are bored, grab some flashlights and your camera and head to the basement for some light saber photography. I assure you it will be more fun than basic light painting.

Tomorrow's challenge is Colorful Water Droplets, or using water droplets as a refractive lens. Expert Photography shows you how to execute this trick at How to Create Colorful Water Droplet Photos. I have seen some amazing photos using a similar method, and I'm curious to try it myself. I could see my kids getting into this one, if I let them help again.

What do you think? Are challenges like light painting and water droplets fun exercises to try or useless diversions from practicing photography basics?

1 comment:

  1. I thought the light painting challenge was incredibly useful--the result wasn't good, BUT I was forced to learn all kinds of things about my camera. So, for a novice, a very good challenge!
    --Erin

    ReplyDelete