Capturing and Processing Night Photography

Lesson 10/20 - Light Painting: Mixing Warm And Cool Light


Capturing and Processing Night Photography


Lesson Info

Light Painting: Mixing Warm And Cool Light

We've got our camera set. We are focused. We are in manual focus mode. Exposure set. We've got our inner Velometer. And I'm just gonna start throwing some light out there. And see what happens. Now because we've chosen a bluish sky, I think what I'm gonna do is put my flashlight to a fairly warm color. And the thing that I love about this Luxley and the flashlight with the gel is that you can really change the color temperature. So I can go from a really bluish type light to a very very warm light. And I think what we'll try to do is kind of mix it up. So we'll have some warm light. Maybe some areas of cool light. We're just gonna see what happens. All right, so I'm gonna turn this off. And, remember what I'm gonna need to do is I'm gonna need to hide this flashlight behind my body so that the camera can't see the light. The moment the light comes from the side or gets pointed back to the camera the camera is able to see the light and that's what we don't want. So I'm gonna keep it hid...

den behind my body. And I can control the light in many different ways. I can tilt the light up. If I don't want any light on the scene but I don't wanna turn it off, I can point it away from the scene. And I'll kind of talk through that as I'm out there lighting. For now what I imagine, is I wanna light the big broad area of the structure out here. But I don't wanna light the ground that I'm walking on. I wanna do that with a different light source and at a different angle. So, I'm gonna start my exposure. I'm gonna turn my light on. And we're nice and warm. And let me just check my brightness. I think that's pretty good. Now, what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna point the light away from the scene. And that means no light is gonna get in there until I want it to. And I'm gonna stay to the camera left for just a little bit. I'm gonna hit my one minute on my self-timer. And head in. All right, so, I'm hiding the light behind me so I'm not illuminating the scene at all until I get to where I want. And then what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna point the light up into the sky until it just comes down and begins to kiss the structure. I don't want to illuminate the ground too terribly much. Now, I'm just kind of walking through the scene. Illuminating the structure. In a nice even way. So that everything gets evenly illuminated. And I might even walk backwards a little bit just to add some more light into the scene. Again, trying to keep as much light off that ground as I can. I'm not gonna be able to completely do it. But, less is better in this case. Now, at this point, I'm gonna put the light back up into the sky. Turn it away from the scene. And I just heard my shutter click. Not nearly enough light. And this is what I'm saying. You've just gotta practice. You will never know whether you have too much light or not enough light until you give it a shot. So, turn the power on my Luxley light. And I'm gonna raise the brightness to 100%. And, point it away from the scene so I don't throw any light in inadvertently. And we're gonna go ahead and start our cable. All right, so once again lighting away from the scene. 'Til I get to where I want. And then slowly tip it down. And walking slowly. Now I can see I can't perfectly get the light off of the ground so what I'm doing is I'm feathering it back and forth. So most of the light is landing on the structure. But the light that is hitting the ground is going to be a little bit feathered and perhaps not as overpowering. Moving the light away. And, turning it off. Hopefully we've added a little bit more light in here. I'm not super confident it's gonna be enough. All right, not bad. It's not nearly as bright as I would like it to be. But I think it's a good start. All right, so this is a good lesson. This happens to me all the time. I'm in situations where I get my exposure right, and I'm, in this case even exposing for one minute in length and that's not enough time to light paint an entire scene. If you're working with smaller scenes it's a little bit easier. But, with big broad scenes like this it can be quite hard. So this is where it's really helpful to have a better understanding of how to use Photoshop simply because we can shoot multiple frames of this and I can illuminate different parts of the frame each time, bring the images back into Photoshop, and then blend them together. Now, if this was like a five or a 10 minute exposure of course I'd have plenty of time to walk through there. And just sort of paint whatever I wanted to. And it's always a great idea to try to paint the whole entire scene in one shot. But I've just found in my experience that the things that I like to photograph seem that, just, just, I don't have enough time to get into one shot, one exposure. So, we've got that base exposure. And I feel that's looking pretty good. You can see it's a little dim in here. I might bring out those shadows a touch. But, now what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna walk into the scene and I'm gonna start highlighting different areas of the scene to bring them out. We've got some stairs back here. We've got a little walkway here and a railing. I think that would look nice to be highlighted. And, some, yeah, I think that little cove up there in the concrete, we'll see what we can do up there. So, what I'm gonna do now is I'm gonna bring out my high-powered flashlight. And I'm gonna put this very very warm gel on it. And once again, you can see that without the gel the light is super cool. And you put that gel on and a couple of things happened. Number one, the light gets a lot warmer. But number two, it also gets a little bit more dim. Which means, I've just brought down the power of my flashlight by gelling it. But that's okay. It's a high-powered flashlight. And I'm gonna be going in a lot closer. And, just sort of really surgically lighting different things in the scene. Now, at this point, lots of different angles are gonna be key to this scene. I don't wanna always paint from just one angle. If you think about taking a portrait, you've got a key light on one side. That's gonna be the brightest area on the face. Then you may have a little fill light coming in on the other side. That could be maybe half as bright as the key light. And then you might have hair light that's a stop brighter than the key. And each one of those lights is at a different angle and a different brightness. So, by taking those ideas out into the field and applying them to the flashlight, you can create depth in your scene, rather than having just a flat evenly illuminated photograph. All right, so, let's hit this next shot. And I'm gonna walk in. And let's see, where am I gonna paint first? I think I'm gonna take a look at that, I think I'm gonna work on painting the ground first. And I'll probably, paint the ground and maybe that far structure. All right. So walking into the scene. I could turn my flashlight on. And I've got the flashlight pointed right at my belly so the camera can't see it. And what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna put my flashlight super low to the ground. And just sort of rake it. So, right now my flashlight is going to be about a foot off the ground. And, hopefully I'm gonna be getting this really nice contrasty light on all the, the dirt and pebbles. And I'm just sort of walking backwards as I'm doing this, with again, my flashlight very low to the ground. That brings out the texture. That brings out all the detail in the dirt. All right, covering the flashlight with my hand. Walking right into the scene. And it sounded like my camera just went off. And let's see how we did. Okay, I'm liking that. So, what we're seeing here is a nice raking of light. I don't love how it go illuminated in here. But we could use other parts of our images in post to fix that up. All right, so what's next? I think I might wanna highlight this area up in here. And so to do that, I'm literally gonna walk up the stairs and paint that from within. But because that's a brighter area, I'm gonna use a lower power on my flashlight. So I'll check that out now. That's the bright light. And that's the dim light. I'm gonna cover it up with my glove. And start this remote. And there we go. So doing a little jog now. All right, so I'm up here in this little cove now. And again, I wanna make sure that the light cannot be seen by the camera. But at the same time, I wanna illuminate this area. And so I've gotta hide the flashlight behind me so that the camera doesn't see it. But I can't obscure what the camera sees either. So that can be difficult. A lot of walking backwards. A lot of moving around. Now at this point I'm gonna hide my flashlight behind one of these columns. And then illuminate the scene. And maybe even give it a brighter light. Just to add some areas of different illumination to the scene. I thought that was probably about a minute. And let's see what we've got. All right. So we did add a nice little highlight up into this area just under the cove where I was sitting. And I'm gonna zoom in and make sure that I didn't, somehow get into the scene. And, doesn't look like I appear anywhere in there. So that's good. All right, wouldn't mind a little bit more light coming out that way so I'm gonna go up and do a little bit more light painting in there. And then, while I'm doing that, I'm also gonna wanna throw some light back into this area. So I'm gonna have to, go up and examine that area. I don't know which angle I'm gonna paint from yet on that but, we'll kind of see when we get up there. So, let's give it another shot. All right. So what I'm doing is I'm hiding behind so the camera can't see my flashlight. And I'll just throw some light out in this direction. That will help the idea of dimension. And we've got this area up here to light as well. So I'm gonna take a real side light angle to this. And I know you guys can't see me, but, I am almost completely even with these walls as I paint. Again, that's gonna help with bringing out the texture in the walls. Okay, that adds a little bit. Not too terribly much. But, I think that's gonna be good for now. Now when we get up to the top, we can see here, we need to add a whole bunch more light up into this area. And, and we have to do some fill down in here. Now at this point what I do often is I will just go back through my images. All right, so I've got this illuminated in here. Got some light there. Back here is the dimmer fill light. And, then I'm starting to add bright highlights in different areas. So the last remaining area is really back up in here. So that gives me an idea of what I need to do. Off we go. Again it's really key to be camera aware. Think about where your camera is and where you can point your flashlight so your flashlight does not appear in the camera. So hiding behind. And, gonna use a, the high power of the flashlight to illuminate this whole back area here. I'm gonna go just a little bit lower here and do some back lighting. See if we could add a little more dimension in. All right, so heading back to the camera to see how this looks. And you guys can see what we're doing. I'm just taking piece by piece and illuminating it bit by bit. All right, let's see what we've got here. Ah, that's much better. We're starting to get a little separation up there now. All right, so we've got some illumination up there. We've got some illumination up in here. Some up in the top there. Down in the bottom. I think, I'm just gonna roll through here and just sort of do some touch up in a couple of little places. What we're seeing is once again we're just kind of breaking up the scene into individual spots. We don't have enough time to paint the entire thing. So we're taking short little chunks of time, a minute at a time, and painting individual areas. And when we come back into Photoshop we're gonna layer them all together. And bring each one of those out. All right, so I think we're just gonna do another shot or two. Play around a little bit more with bringing some areas out in this scene. And we'll see you in post processing.

Class Description

Creating night images poses unique challenges, particularly for those who are more accustomed to daytime photography. From focusing in the dark to calculating long exposures, night photography requires the photographer to build new skills and polish off some old ones. But there’s more to night photography than just capturing the image in the field. Like with other photographic disciplines, post-processing often plays a vital role in crafting the final image. Join photographer, author and National Parks at Night instructor Tim Cooper as he shares what you’ll need to know while you’re in the field, including lens choice, camera settings and exposure, as well as how to use Photoshop® and Lightroom® to create a night image that dazzles.