My latest article for the Huffington Post is titled Pack Music in Your Camera Bag. The article is all about how music has a powerful influence on our mood and that can help our photography. If you like what you read and think others might too then please share via the various social media links beside the article.
It’s light tracing week over here at Peter Carroll Photography. I’ve shared with you some shots from a recent light tracing photo shoot I did with a talented fencer. Now I’d like to share with you an ad that shows how light tracing can bring the wow factor to video too. Sprint put out this ad a few years ago and it caused quite a buzz at the time.
Here’s a link to the “how did they do that” video. In the video you’ll hear the comment, “we are so bombarded by special effects now that it’s kind of hard to be impressed by anything”. I believe it was Einstein who said, “imagination is more important than knowledge”. Always remember to pack imagination in your photography bag.
Yesterday I promised I would get into the “how to” of light tracing and some of the speedbumps, which I like to refer to as “crap on a cracker” moments, which we experienced on the shoot this past weekend. Light tracing is quite simply a blast. Here are two more shots from the shoot…
Here’s what you need to do light tracing:
1. A camera that is capable of long exposures
2. a tripod
3. a dark location
4. a light source (ex. pen light, flashlight, birthday sparklers, an iPod etc)
The engineer/pilot side of me likes to think of light sources at a shoot as if they were building blocks. Don’t build up until what you’ve already got is solid. Throw the switches on too many lights and you can get confused as to which light is doing what. The shots above were simple one studio + one light trace source set ups but simple doesn’t mean I didn’t have to wrestle the alligator that is light. A la Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory I can be heard muttering at times on a shoot “Oh light… thou art a heartless bitch”. I initially tried a softbox to camera left. I was walking a very fine line between lighting the fencer and the metallic floor yet keeping my backdrop black. I tried feathering the lightbox which helped to a certain degree but what I really needed was a large gobo. I didn’t have anything large enough. What to do? What to do? Ah… throw on the 24″ octo and use the eggcrate. This allowed for still soft but directional light. If I had a 2nd eggcrate I would have added another light on camera right for a bit of fill but I kind of like the harsher shadows look of the shots so sometimes just making do works to your favour.
So once the main light was set and the fencer had her final position for exposure we added the light trace source. The sequence was simple - no light on the set except for the trace light, camera shutter open, move the trace light, stop the trace light, fire the studio light to expose the fencer, close the shutter. The camera was tethered to the laptop and we were using Nikon Camera Control 2 and View NX. There was always fun anticipation after each try to see what did we actually get because that’s half the fun of light tracing – you never really know exactly how it’s going to turn out. The fencer had fun trying different movements and speeds creating different effects.
When it came to the birthday sparkler shot I got in on the act. I started the sequence by opening the shutter on a completely black set. Then I got on the set and lit the sparkler near the base of the foil. I then traced it along the foil to the tip. Once I got to the end, I hid the sparkler behind a black sweater and exited the set. I was dressed in black and as long as I was moving and the sparkler wasn’t lighting any of me up I wasn’t captured in the shot. After I left the set the studio light was fired and the shot was complete.
In order for all of this to work you need a very patient and attentive model. For the blue light trace shot she needed to find her final position spot in the dark. For the birthday sparkler shot she needed to hold still so my light trace was in line with the studio light exposure after I had left the set. A lot of little details need to come together for light tracing shots but that’s why they are so much fun.
We are almost at the halfway point of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games. The Olympics is a gathering of some of the best athletes in the world. It is also a gathering of some of the best photographers too. Over the last 8 days some of the photography has been superb and few sites do a better job of showcasing “best of” in the world of journalism photography than the Boston Globe’s The Big Picture. Enjoy the gallery they have put together. Here are a few that stood out for me…
Clive Rose/Getty Images
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan