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Friday, May 28, 2010

Light Painting

I was photographing some old structures in North Carolina and I was having trouble with overall lighting inside some of the barns. The flash was overpowering the closer structures and leaving the rest too dark and I only had one flash unit, an SB-800 (all I have). I tried flash off camera but I had trouble securing it and even when I did, the lighting wasn't correct. I found that with no flash, even at f/2.8, sometimes it wouldn't work as there was too little light leaking in through the cracks in the roof and walls, etc. 
No flash, 2 sec exposure at f/4.5 ISO 200 20mm I could not even see this through the viewfinder. 

Next I tried the flash. but the nearby structures were over exposed and the rest underexposed. I know I can work it in Lightroom2 but there is only so much you can do and I would rather get the picture right without a lot of post production. 

Flash, 2 sec expsoure at f/4.5 ISO 200 20mm Stick is overexposed, the rest underexposed. 

What to do? I decided to get creative and try something, Light Painting. Have heard others talk about it and I have read about it so why not try it? Took my flash off the camera and located the "Modeling Light Illuminator Button" that fires the flash repeatedly for a short duration. Opened the shutter up some more and when I clicked the shutter, I waved the flash around, trying to expose the darker areas and not too much on the close up structures. 
Modeling Flash, 5 sec exposure at f/5.6 ISO 200 20mm.

Sometimes I didn't get the light moved around evenly. 

You may wonder, What happens if you get in front of the lens or you move too slowly so that your and/or the flash are in the picture too long. Here is the answer. Note the red light is from the back of my flash unit. 
Modeling Flash, 5 sec exposure at f/5.6 ISO 200 20mm. I aimed the flash at the lower stick too long and the Flash red light shows in the picture. 

I had heard of light painting and read of it and seen photos of it but had never done it. But the situation I was dealing with was similar so I figured it was worth a try. Its another tool to try when you need a rabbit our of the hat so to speak. Try is sometimes just for the fun of it. 

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