Morning Q&A and Timing for Light Painting
Okay, so first question is from fashion tv in singapore who always says some really great questions ben, do you ever light through a gobo infront of your lens or in front of your lands for interesting effects? And if so, what are the most common ones? I actually don't it's not something I've experimented with pretty much in the past, so it's something I couldn't really tell you what my favorite ones are, I do on occasion shoot my light through things in the scene, I won't necessarily have something between the camera and the, uh the scene I might shoot my light, though through bushes sometimes I might have an example see if I can find it quick I'm not certain I'll be able to yes, here I'm doing things where I use things to model my life in block the light on all that I'm shooting light through a bush in order to create interesting shapes, you know? I don't know if that's the kind of thing she's thinking of yeah, I think that was actually the question I said lens but it was leads, okay?
All right, you know that makes sense, so I do frequently try to find things to shoot like through because just a standard light coming out of a flashlight isn't always the most exciting, and so if I get to a scene oftentimes I don't know I'm going to like paint at the moment it's more like you run into something interesting while I want to capture this and I'm often looking through somebody's house that I'm not used to their house and looking for random things I might find a kolender you know strainer for like you put pasta or something shoot light through all the little holes and suddenly I got something interesting look for candles you know the actual holder for a candle sometimes shooting light through the bottom of it makes it modeled on other things just always looking for weird stuff to make the light look different and so yeah look for stuff like that I don't have favorites though because usually it's a matter of whatever I run into in a particular seem for me most of my life paintings there where I run across the subject like wow that'd be cool like pain and I just do it it's not uh most of my life means air not overly planned there is for the moment so I think that kind of answer is fashion tv's other question which was in every scene what do what do you first in every scene what do you and your first shot to determine what tools to use? What is your thought process what do you look out for? Usually sure uh when I get to a scene as faras what tools to use it all depends on how bright the ambient light iss the brighter the ambient light iss, the brighter the flashlight is going to be them going to need to use, too, because if I set my camera to a studying that compensates for the ambient light to make it dark enough, where if I take a thirty second exposure of the scene is dark, sometimes doing that will make it so I've cut the amount of light going into the cameras so much that I need a really bright flashlight to compensate if that's not the case, if it's really dark out, then I'm thinking more about how far away am I gonna like the subject from the further away I'm going to like my subject from usually the brighter the flashlight's going to need to be with longer, I'll need to paint the light, but in general, a lot of the times I'm just driving around got my camera in the back, my tripods already there and there's a flashlight somewhere, and I'll just deal with what I got in that case, I'm just going to be doing some test exposures. I start off with one hundred f eleven, uh, and a thirty second exposure, and I see if that's going to give me a dark frame, if it can, then great, we don't have extra light. And then I'll end up using my flashlight and I'll just do a test exposure I'll come in and light little areas of the scene very quickly come back to the camera and see if it's to brighter too dark if it is too bright, clothes down the aperture on my camera, go from f eleven my god f sixteen or whatever else I need, and I'll do another test exposure until I get it. Where it's not ending up being too bright if on the other hand, is too dim, then I might up the esso setting on my camera or I might choose to paint with light longer in an area you spend more time and so it's mainly doing a test like that to determine if I have the length of time I'm putting the light in there to be appropriate. And once I found that that I can pretty much go with the flow and do a lot of shoots, mama shot great, I think nina's question. Yeah, so you were talking about location scouting and you just find random things and how do you approach that, teo, you seek out the person that owns the property like I know you probably go up tio junkyard operator's um, but how do you approach that situation, or do you ever run into cops being like random crazy guy with a flesh life. Well, for me in general, oftentimes I'm running into the stuff in the middle of the night. Well, I'm driving bite or something like that, and if so, there's nobody around and there's nothing, I just do it, and most of the time I don't end up running into an issue. Now, if it's something where it's I go by and there's a bunch of really cool like old vehicles and some guy's front yard or something like that and I see it during the daytime it's me and I'm going to go in there and say, I'll come in with a few sample images, usually on my iphone or my ipad, I have a bunch of samples and I'll just tell him how much I love the stuff. Yes, you know, they're in that I would love to photograph them. They'd looked like this in general and I always offer the person that would allow me to shoot their stuff. I give them a free print and I just tell him I'm not trying to sell you anything whatsoever I'm trying to just you know, if you want me to shoot this, I love to I just I let them know about my passion for whatever it is they have there and usually gets them so there into it and then I'll come back the next day where I'll send in the mail ah, print when I'm done, but most of the time I don't have difficulty getting permission because most the time, a lot of what I'm shooting is vintage america stuff, and I'm overly passionate about that, and I mean, I can show my own a vintage bus that I'm restoring, you know, all this stuff and they go oh, cool, you know, they get into what I'm doing on occasion no if it's like certain like junk yard things with big tall razor wire fence at the top and you hear a dog barking and stuff, you know, that is going to be a, you know, a toss up, they might say yes, they might say no better to approach him during the day time not you know that that night, you know, that kind of stuff. Other question, yes, nico ha asked could use an nd filter a polarizing filter during the day? The problem with an nd filter and the filter means neutral density is that it's going to cut the amount of light that's going into the camera, and you have to come to compensate for that because it's also going to cut the amount of light coming out of your flashlight, so if you have a powerful enough flashlight then you could put a neutral density in there to get it so you have a long enough exposure but then you need a really really bright flashlight to be able to overtake that because if it's daylight you need flashlights there's going to be many times brighter than daylight and if I shine this flashlight on something during the daytime I might barely be able to see that it's there so it's not something that I have done in general but conceptually you could if you had a powerful enough light source now there is something else you could do and that is if you end up doing multiple exposures and you composite them, then you can do much shorter exposures and so you could do it where it's not going too broad daylight but for instance I have one and here if you guys take a look at this one here there was a light source right behind this truck there's also a light source behind me if I'm standing here on over my right shoulder streetlight there was quite a bit of light there and so I walked around and I found an area that was in the shade with those light sources were not heating it and then I adjusted my exposure trying to get it so that the building over here with light sources was exposed the way I'd like it to he doesn't get over exposed and I just stuck with whatever exposure that wass and it was dark enough that I was able to get it to be maybe four seconds or something like that that's not very long but in four seconds I can go in and light one really small area you know I can light a wheel in four seconds I can like the back of the truck real quick and four seconds if I took thirty shots of this truck each time I only have four seconds to do it in and I'm lighting little bitty areas then I could load those all in the photo shop and I can put him on separate layers and I'll show you how to combine those together s o that I can do it when there's a no right amount of light pollution like that but I'm gonna have to do multiple exposures and I have to get really good at doing it um now there is something else you do on occasion and that is you can use normal flash sometimes I'll use a flash unit that kind of flashy put on the hot shoe of your digital camera known as a speed light and there's a test fire button you can use that for lighting a swell in with those there is a trick you can use to do it when it's still relatively bright out in that is many flashes have a setting on it known as high speed sync in high speed sync makes it so you can use that flash unit with shutter speeds there faster than usual usually one, two hundred one, two hundred fiftieth of the second is the fastest you can use with a speed light but if you have one that can do high speed sync you could go even higher and you can make it so you're doing you know, one one thousandth of a second or even higher in by using such a very short exposure you can cut down the effect of daylight because you're catching such a quick exposure and then your flashes going off in such a quick burst that you can use it to fill different areas so again I'd be doing multiple exposures and with high speed sync I'd be able to pop the flash off in various locations and make it look more like night time make it look more like it's being lit with that flash something that we're not gonna have a chance to cover here but something to consider and maybe investigate if you want to do a lot of that great I think we have time for one more question question yeah I was just curious if you ever defused the light coming out of your flashlight other with some sort of likes saran wrap or something like that yeah I d'oh sometimes diffuse light coming out of flashlight especially when I'm shooting people sometimes shooting people the getting the light coming just out of the flashlight could be a little bit harsh, and so I used some high tech diffusion material known as tissue I won't mention the brand because it's not always the same brand but you know you just grab grab a tissue off somebody's you should blow your nose whether toilet paper and just hold it over the front of the flashlight and it will defuse it sometimes I just hold a piece of it over it sometimes they crumple it up and show just a little bit of it into the front of the flashlight and it makes it so what comes out is much softer, light and it's harder than to get it into just isolated area, but it could give you just much more pleasant soft light. All right, well, that's enough questions for now, and so the other thing I want to talk about is how I think about different times of day to go out like painting. And so this amazing diagram here I'm no artistas forest trying goes, is part of how you could think about, uh, your day so we have the sun this is the horizon and sew up here would be daytime when the sun hits the horizon it's sunset, obviously or sunrise on the other side during this time with sons up that's what I'm doing normal photography and I could consider when the sun is getting really low near sunset but hasn't quite hit it. I could think about trying to do high speed sync, but I'm kind of pushing it once sunset hits though there's about a half hour of time when the sun is below the horizon but it's still lighting the clouds or anything else that's in the atmosphere and it feels in general like daylight it's just the sun's not there and during that time I usually can't get my exposures to be long enough half an hour after sunset, though the sun could no longer illuminate the clouds that are in the sky and that's when it starts getting dark enough, we're going to start doing like painting so it's about a half hour after sunset and that's kind of like that timing because that allows me to shoot the the golden hour around sunset like most photographers loved to shoot and then the sun goes down and I could be driving to whatever location it is I might be thinking of I could be setting up a tripod to getting the composition right and all that and I got about a half hour to do that to drive over there tio composed to get ready then half hour after sunset the sky ends up just going blue and it doesn't look quite as blue your eyes that's what you get in your camera because everything else is so dark around you that if you do just a longer exposure one that will make it a little brighter than what your eyes see the blue really can come out of that sky it'll be blue and as it gets towards the horizon to italy the go towards white ish where sometimes a little bit oranges depending on what direction you're pointing then about a half an hour after that the sky will go black get start going black in that's when it's better if you want stars in your photograph or you want to start doing the milky way or anything like that in your photo you want to wait and then after that point you got nighttime in during nighttime when you have in general black sky then the big thing that matters is the moon and the moon is what's depicted by this just to remind me to talk about it and so I use ah moon calendar if I had my iphone which I think I have I could just pop it open and I have a folder on my ipad for shooting in here I have a moon phase calendar and if you get that on camera or not but all it is is a calendar and it shows in what the moon will be like on any day of this month and so there are some special times when it comes to the moon for that, there are many different moon phase calculus, calculators or calendars. You could get them online as well. You don't have to have an iphone app, so just do a search for moon phase calendar on either your cell phone. If you have one that can run aps or on the internet and looking at it, you see that about every fifteen days apart is going to be the difference between full moon and the new moon when you I have pretty much no moon in the sky. So if I'm going to shoot after the sky turns black, I want to know what's going on with the moon if we have no moon, if you could call it new moon, that means that the moon's not going be lighting anything in their environment that's a great time to be shooting the milky way in the sky to get star trails. If you do long exposures in all that, because the moon will not be competing with what's going on with your sky, and you can get the more faint objects that are out there that time, though, the moon's not going to help you illuminate your surroundings, the landscape, and so if you're going out during the new moon time, you're going to have to be lighting all any environment you want to have show up. Otherwise, things will show up is a silhouette. If it's full moon, though, with full moon, you can have the moon light the landscape, and if you do try to think what it would be about a two and a half minute, three minute exposure eleven oh, one hundred might need to go a little longer than that. The moon can really start illuminating the landscape and so far away things like mountains and other things you can easily see within your scene, and then what I do when it's full moon is I walk around the scene and I look for interesting objects that are either fully in the shade or partially in the shade, where the moonlight is not falling on them and that's what I'm gonna like paint. So I let the moonlight light certain areas of it, but I'll find an area where the moonlight isn't falling in that's, where I'm going to paint my light in so it might be a combination half of the object might be being hit with moonlight. The other half I'm gonna light whatever it is, as far as how much shade there is there, and so I would end up getting a moon phase calendar. Now, these different phases of what happens with the sun actually have names there when the sun hits the horizon. You know, when it actually goes completely below the horizon, you have sunset for that moment, but right after that, its twilight and for about a half hour after sunset, when the sun goes between the horizon and six degrees below the horizon. Right at that point you have civil twilight. That general range in the end of civil twilight is six degrees below the horizon. That is, when it's too bright light paint usually, and it looks darn near like daylight. Then for the next half hour, approximately another six degrees of motion with son that next time is called nautical twilight and there's called nautical, I believe, because people in the old days when you used to be like, like columbus, discovering america and things he used to use the stars to navigate from when you're in a boat. But you have to be able to see the horizon and so you can still see the horizon at this time. It's only when the sky turns black that you can no longer see the horizon the sky looks the same as the horizon and that's the ous far as I know, the reason why it's called nautical. Then after that is the astronomical twilight. And that's, when your sky ends up turning black and that's, when you start to be able to do your stars and other things similar to that, and you really need to start thinking about what's going on with the moon, but it's about up half hour between each one of these and so that's all what I'm thinking about what I'm considering going out and shooting if I find a subject matter on, I want to see the landscape because it's really interesting I'm gonna look for what is it a full moon so I can have that full moon illuminate what's around it? If, on the other hand, I want really cool star trails and there are other things I could do that with the moon, I just need to be pointed eyes, not in the scene as much, but if I want to get every little star, if I want to get the milky way where you can see the whole thing, then I don't want the moon competing, so I'm going to go for a new moon instead, I'm going to plan it so that's, what I'm going to go out knowing, though, that I'm gonna have to light all the surroundings myself, so this is just a little bit to think about that I thought I'd share with you, and because we have a lot of gray they're actually grey knights that's, right? And I'm here in july and august when there you don't think about that much. Yeah, grayken matter as faras once the sun goes down, you're not going to get your blue sky to show up. If your overcast and ifyou're overcast, the sun might have a bit more influence on those clouds, so it might be a little bit later that you have to come out before you could do that. Um, and I'm not when it gets down really dark here, it's going to depend on your moon? Is the moon going to be back lighting your overcast or doing that? So it will matter a bit as faras your overcast goes, I'm not always used to shooting the notes conditions, so my brain doesn't have every little scenario there thought about, but yes, it will matter and you might have to go out a little bit later when it's overcast I've never done anything with like storm clouds are lightning with it lightning I haven't done well like painting I mean, I've shot like me many times for other things, so not necessarily their storm clouds and things like that. The main thing is if the during a full moon, if the clouds are moving a good amount and oftentimes after the sun goes down, the wind starts going up in certain locations, doing long exposures with that can actually look really interesting, because then the clouds, instead of looking like a crisp object, become this kind of mohr abstract shape and can look really interesting any other questions or, um, I'm sure there are but it's up to you if you want to keep going. Well, what? Well, what we're going to do next, I think, is I've changed the set up that we have to just simplify what isthe because before we ended up having what one, two, three, four objects on the table and now we just have one? What is this it's? Just a vase with some flowers in it? We've moved the table a little bit closer to the wall so that the backdrop that we have a black should hopefully fill the frame so we won't get it on the edge and what I thought we would end up doing this first, we have to do some tests because the light has changed on our windows and hopefully there's a lot less like coming in here so that we can end up not having to use the most powerful flashlight we'll end up finding out in a few minutes here, and then I might, like, paint this subject a little bit, but in general what I'd love to dio is get some of you guys the audience to try out light paint because then if you haven't done it before, that would be the best if you've never done it but that way you can see what's going through your head and you can say you know, what are you thinking about that you might want me to answer and I could give you feedback as to what might I do differently? You want to think about in that way hopefully could be a little bit more like you the people out on the interwebs what it might be like for you if you're going to do your first like pain now some of you guys might have light painted before because we show up for a full day of light painting instruction you might have I don't know what's your experience is never, never never not yes alright cool that's great because then they their minds are fresh and that means they don't know all the things to think about necessarily so if they there is anything that could end up being a problem, hopefully we'll encounter it. You know I usually don't want to screw up I want you to screw up because we got to figure out howto unscrew that up so that then you don't do it in the future and I've done it too many times to think of what you think you're doing