Monday, January 17, 2011

Flower Power - Painting With Light

Cold wet winter days can be a real drag especially if your interest is in photographing flowers. An alternative to shooting flowers outdoors is of course to photographing in the cozy surroundings of your living room.

Most people don't have access to a studio but this need not prevent you from taking beautiful studio type photographs on your living room table. This image was taken just that way in fact and whats even more fun is that it was lit with the light from a bare bulb table lamp using a technique called "light painting"!

You'll need a steady tripod for this exercise as you'll be using a fairly long shutter speed, fairly long can be anything from 1/2 sec to 3 minutes depending on the ISO and aperture and brightness of the light source you select. Set your camera to M for manual also focus the lens manually and turn off "auto focus" Try using ISO 100 and a aperture of f/4. Trial and error will help you find the right shutter speed depending on the tone of your flower but 1/2sec-1 minute might be about right  - open the shutter and begin to paint the light over the flower by moving the light around the image, you can give a little to the background or more to the left or right for a different effect, try to keep your hand out of the frame but if it sneaks in just momentarily it probably won't even appear in the photograph.
If your first attempt is too light then shorten your shutter speed by half and if its too dark try doubling the amount of time you paint with the light.

I used a dark cloth for my background with the photo here. The settings were ISO 100 f/6.3 shutter speed 1/2 second. I've even used an I-Phone to light my pictures but the exposure is likely to be about 3 minutes so you'll have
 to set your camera to "bulb" and as you open the shutter start counting 1-1000, 2-1000 etc,. or you can 
set your I-Phone timer and get a 2 for 1 deal! I simply converted to gray scale in Photoshop and added a curve adjustment to accentuate the contrast between the light and dark areas.