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So You Want to Paint with Light

R9364985L (Ricoh GRD4)

Can just anyone with a camera and a bit of a practice somehow spice up an otherwise uninspiring scene? If you think no, think again. 

Simply see lights and shadows from a camera’s perspective, and we can take hold of such a scene as we do to a hard nut, break it open and extract some jewel of visuals. In that perspective, light can be gingered up with a longer exposure time for the photographer to paint to the heart’s content. Achieving a desirable result is just a matter of experience in different exposure and white balance combos, the effects of random directions of camera movements and on reflective surfaces as varied as the galvanised panels in today’s shot. There is no magic, but just practices make perfect. Well, I can’t quite mention the word “perfect” for today’s shot in any sense of the word.

Here, a man was leaning against the panels which reflected passers-by milling about the bustling street. While their reflections in the panels were already impressionistic, a slow 15th of a second shutter speed gives interest to the final image in that the blurry images of the primary subject (the man) and the reflections become layered on two distinctive levels. It can be said to be reminiscent of an impressionistic painting on a canvas, where the painters employed diverse dabbing and brushing arrangements to reinvent the light and shadows and to hint the subjects.

No one is too daft to be not able to do it. Experiment, make mental note of the results and add in observations and creativity, and then anyone can be an ace at light painting.


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