Covid-19 has curtailed the photographic opportunities of most photographers, as movement has been restricted, venues have been closed to the public and events have been cancelled. Luckily here in the UK we were blessed with an unusually dry and sunny Spring followed by a long, warm Summer to ease the pain of lock down and I've enjoyed my time spent working and relaxing in my garden with much of the time spent photographing flowers.
Autumn came along with the prospect of shorter, wetter days as the night's drew in and here we are still in lock down as we come into Winter. To cope with the gloom of Covid and Winter together I was looking to improve my still life skills at home by viewing some Youtube tutorials on photographing flowers and I stumbled across a video on light painting some orchids with a simple torch. The result was really beautiful and I'd found myself a new project for the long dark Winter months.
Now I must admit that I'm not entirely new to painting with light. In 2017 I was on a photo club long weekend in Blencathra in the Lake District during October when we were given a light painting tutorial by a member of the club.
|Hoylake Photographic Society - Light Painting Tutorial|
As you can imagine, trying to get everyone on the same page with camera setting and the technique when using different camera brands and menus in total darkness wasn't easy. People shining a torch at crucial moments because they'd either lost their remote cable release or had accidently kicked their tripod in the darkness resulted in some chaos. Still we managed to get a few shots of the burning wire wool twirled around on a rope with our brave host peppered with burning embers inside the light sphere. Don't try this at home without the proper precautions. At the time I marked it down as something else in photography that I'd tried and which I probably wouldn't do again.
|Burning wire wool on a rope|
Back now to the present and the light painting of flowers in the warmth of my dining room. By chance we had an arrangement of plastic orchids that were gifted to us which were perfect for me to practice the Youtube single torch technique, but first I invested in a portable clothes rail from Ikea for £7 to use as a background stand to hang some black cloth. The clothes rail is the perfect size for still life or head and shoulder portraits.
|Plastic Orchids - torch lit, f16, 15 sec, ISO 100|
|My basic light painting kit|
|Torch, rubber universal connector and black fibre optic brush|
|Torch, rubber universal connector and perspex blade|
|Torch, rubber universal connector and plastic drinks bottle|
|Black Fibre Optic Brush.|
My most recent light painting session was another concept and far more adventurous. I found a toy Darth Vader mask in the loft and placed it on a hair styling head which was clamped to the dining table. Two rolled up bath towels made up the shoulders with black cloth used as a makeshift cloak. Two torches, one blue, the other red were used to illuminate either side of the head. The black fibre optic brush with a red gel was used to create the background and blue electroluminescent string moved quickly in the foreground to create a blue mist.
|"May the light be with you"|