Today I received my report card from the 2nd Annual Port Talbot International salon. I was pleased with 3 entries last year, but absolutely chuffed to find 7 out of my 12 entries have been accepted this time around – a definite improvement! Here they are:
They had recieved 12,049 images from 1,122 entrants across four sections, and the acceptance rate was approximately 30%. So I’ve beaten the average with nearly double that (58%)!
November was another busy month photographically. I love the autumn colours, so when time allowed I was out and about photographing the lovely leaves with my fantastic new macro lens. I’m very impressed with the results.
The dark nights made it easy to get out and do some more light painting. Here’s one which I liked from a session out with the GNPC folks at a very dark churchyard!
More studio activities involved testing out my new Splash Art Kit on various occasions.
It produces some great results with a much better valve and pressure tank than my original Camera Axe setup, and I’ve also bought some great flash brackets for getting better background colours.
I look forward to playing with it more over the coming weeks and months – I’ll certainly need some practice as I’m giving two talks with live demos about water splashes to clubs in the near future!
The Splash Art system also seems a bit more rugged and more easily transportable compared to the delicate electronics of the Camera Axe, so it should be much better for taking on the road to various places.
Talking of the seaside – I witnessed another fantastic sunset in Brightlingsea a few days ago. I was there re-acquainting myself with the qualities of my 100-400mm zoom lens, which I’d just collected from being repaired.
I haven’t really had much opportunity to play with it yet, but I have found that it can make some stylish borders for pictures.
This triptych of beautiful stones in the sand at Broadstairs is finished off rather well with the additional edging.
My ongoing love for mono photography was once again fuelled by taking part in the annual Monovember challenge on Flickr. I am pleased with my thirty images, and feel that I did the group justice. However, I will be glad to go back to just needing to make two images a day for December, rather than three!
And so that brings us to the end of the month – and December is upon us once again! Watch this space for the next installment.
I thought I would give you a quick rundown of the tools which are currently in my Light Painting Box of Tricks (actually there are two!)
The two plastic storage boxes contain various tools – one for small flashing kiddies’ lightwands, torches and LED fairy lights, the other housing longer tools such as my Disney Lightsabre and LED Lenser v24 multicoloured wand.
Here is a closer look at each tool:
The Disney lightsabre is basically a kid’s toy – and makes convincing swooshing noises when switched on. Once activated, it stays on solidly for about 30s before turning off automatically. I’ve used it to make shots on Day #1774 and Day #1789 and Toybox Day #313.
The LED Lenser v24 is now out of production, although examples can be picked up on eBay if you keep an eye out for them. It’s a 7-colour-cycling LED wand. Switching it on will change the colours automatically every few seconds, and a second button allows you to lock the colour as solid if you wish. I’ve used it to make shots on Day #1530, Day #1533 and Day #1548 so far.
I picked up this LED fan in Japan for a couple of pounds. I’m sure you can get them elsewhere. It has five LEDs on one of the blades which all flash at random intervals as it spins. I’ve used this to good effect on Day #1775, Day #1786 and Toybox Day #327.
The “Coathanger Flasher” is something I made out of a cheap plastic coat hanger onto which I’ve sellotaped three kids’ party lightsticks which I got cheap from eBay. Each lightstick has several modes – on solid, slow flash, fast flash and wipe from one end to the other. I often use each of the three in a different mode for one shot, just for a bit of variety. So far I’ve made shots on Day #1786 and Day #1792 with it.
The simplest light-painting tool of all – an LED torch. I have several different ones which I’ve been playing with so far. The UV one has solid on, fast flash and slow flash modes. I used the slow flash setting to make Day #1788‘s intriguing Physiogram. One of the white ones is rather too diffuse to be much good for Physiograms – the smaller the beam, the better for those. I might come in handy for outdoor work though, so I’m keeping hold of it.
I have several different coloured strings of LED fairy lights. Battery operated is essential. Have’t used these much in anger yet, but hope to make some Orbs with them in the future. Some stay on solidly, others have the option to flash.
I have also found a tube of 15 glowsticks for a quid, and some more cheap kiddies’ lightsticks. Haven’t used either of these much as yet, but I’m sure they will get a run out soon.
And perhaps the most important tool of all in the light-painter’s arsenal is a box of Quality Street choccies. Firstly, to keep you going on a cold, dark night. And secondly to use the coloured cellophane wrappers as gels for torches and bunches of LED fairy lights! Double win, I say!
I will write another post as and when I develop any more tools which may be of interest.
Light painting indoors or spinning physiograms are fun, and can be a great creative stop-gap when its raining or too dark for anything else. But it is a bit of a cop out… Some amazing effects can be seen when you venture outdoors and find the right location for your light painting activities.
It’s often tricky to balance the exposure for the ambient light of your scenery versus the light from your painting tools. That’s where the experimentation comes in.
After getting my LED Lenser V24 and Disney lightsabres early in the year, I had a go at light painting in various locations. This one was made with Alistair in Newcastle, with him waving the Lenser wand around while I minded the camera. It nearly made it for Day #1533:
I ventured out alone a few days later when I returned home. Hylands Park is pretty deserted after dark – but you can clearly see the flow of traffic on the A414 next to it. This one nearly made it for Day #1548:
I even had the foresight to drag the Lenser with me when I did the Paris overnight shoot in June – in the pouring rain! This one nearly made it for Day #1616:
Since then, I had not done any outdoor work until recently, when friends from GNPC suggested an after dark Light Painting workshop at a churchyard in the middle of nowhere. Several of us had fun using various tools. Here’s one image which were near misses for Day #1774:
When I was heading to the seaside the other day, I thought there may be a chance of an interesting location at dusk, so packed the light painting tools in the car. I got a few shots before the batteries in my LED Lenser were about to fade – this one nearly made it for Day #1789:
As you can see, with the right location, you can get some pretty impressive results. In another post, I will tell you a little bit about my lightpainting tools. And I’ll be sure to write more when I set about using them to make Orbs and Domes – hopefully soon!
I’ve been meaning to have a crack at Physiograms for ages, having seen the wonderful work of my Flickr contacts Pikebubbles (David Gilliver) and ~ jules ~ (Julian Marshall). The principle is dead simple – hang a torch on a piece of string directly over your camera, take a long exposure while the string spins, moving the light source about.
The theory is easy! In practice – not so easy!
I laid my camera on its back on the floor in a dark room, put the widest lens I had on the camera (Canon 10-22mm EF-S f/3.5-4.5 USM) and attached the cable release. Using the only torch I had, plus some coloured cellophane wrappers from a box of Quality Street, I set up the exposure in Bulb mode and locked the shutter open with the cable release. Having spun the string with the first colour, I then put the lens cap carefully on the camera (it still had the shutter open) while I changed over the gel on the torch and set it spinning again. Removed the lens cap, leave for 20 seconds or so, rinse, repeat.
As you can see, my first attempts weren’t great. The colours were OK but everything looked blurred. The torch I was using had quite a fat magnifying lens over the front of the LED which was causing a very fuzzy light source to be emitted.
A few days later with some new torches, I tried again – with much better results. I also tied the string from a hook in the ceiling rather than under a light fitting, which should make for better control of depth of field (as the torch is further away).
As if these weren’t enough, I decided to hang the LED fan from the string to see what happened – and got some crazy spinning-while-spinning patterns! This one nearly made it for Day #1788:
I will be doing more experiments with Physiograms soon, to refine my technique. I’ll keep you posted.