Painting the Stars (and other things)


Stars!  I’m still on a Les Miserables high, although I was thinking about a stars themed images since before I saw the movie.  But it seeems like I can’t see any twinkly little star without thinking of the lyrics “Stars, in your multitudes/Scarce to be counted/filling the darkness/with order and light”.  This images was done with a pop of flash to get the jumping figure, and then over the rest of a long exposure as a light painting for the blue nebulas and me flashing a small LED flashlight straight at the camera for the actual stars.

The last few weeks I’ve been experimenting with a cool painting with light technique to create a spectral glowing fire or smoke effect.  In a case for looking at the “related links” or “You might also be interested in” ads on the sidebar, I found this fabulous tutorial on Youtube by French photographer Wen-Jie Yang.  He’s helpfully added English subtitles for those of us who don’t speak French! Right after I saw this I had to go straight to Amazon and order the electroluminescent wire that he’s talking about.  Hooray for Amazon Prime!

Of course in his videos, it looks really easy to just get the shot he wants, but with these long exposures I’m finding it takes a LOT of tries to get everything just so.  For the things I’ve been working on over the last few weeks I’ve been finding that getting the lighting right is extremely tricky – I’m using a small flash, LED lights, LED rope lights, and the wire for various things and the resulting long long exposures (and possibly jumping) take about a million tries.  Probably it’s time for me to start getting models or assistants or SOMETHING, if I only didn’t always start playing around with my camera at 9 pm on a random Wednesday, which is how it usually goes.  Still, I’m very happy with some of these:

“Shine Bright”

This was done entirely with a single LED flashlight.  I was really inspired by Rihanna’s recent radio hit, but more so about the idea that everyone has hope and beauty inside of themselves.  It’s just a matter of letting the world see, and letting that inner light touch the lives of others in some way to make it better. This was right after the Sandy school shooting and that was really a moment when it was so clear how the bravery and sacrifice of those who chose to give their lives for their students was in such stark opposition to anyone who could choose to take the lives of others.  Not saying everyone ought to run out and be a hero like that, but we can all help others in some small way, all the time.



“Playing with Fire”

Did you know I always wanted to be a sorceress?  This was incredibly hard to get right, I used an LED flashlight to light myself (which was sufficient to to light the background) and drew in the rest with the El wire.





” Summoning”

In addition to wanting to be a sorceress, I suppose I also secretly want to be a demoness that you’d summon up from some hell dimension? The lighting on this one was too complicated to really make me like the end result – LED rope, flash, AND the El wire.  Still learning how to get the effect I want, which gets infinitely harder the more you try to have in the scene, as you can see.  Still, I get a kick out of this because when I look at it I think about Arnold in the Terminator in a similar pose, and his line “Your clothes.  Give them to me” in his heavy accent.



After all this I’ll probably take a little break for this technique because I have other ideas that need exploring.  But it’s a nifty and fun trick – definitely a great one to have in the bag.  Until next time! :)

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