Friday, November 20, 2009

Thirteen Speedlites And I Used A Flashlight, Go Figure.

I have all my flashes in pairs. One reason would be for backups, but who in the world needs redundancy that goes ten deep. NASA doesn't even have that many backup systems on the Space Shuttle. So, backups is probably not the reason for so many flashes. Okay, five do work with Nikon's CLS (Creative Lighting System), but that's broken into two distinct groups. Three are general purpose and are used with softboxes (bigger boxes than you might think), umbrellas, grids, snoots and all the usual suspects when it comes to light modifiers. The other two are part of the Nikon R1 Wireless Close-up Speedlight System. The November 6th post, with the pool balls, used all five Nikon lights. There's two 360 degree slaves, two mini slaves (for when you need just a little pop for a rim light), and two Sunpack FP-38 Flat Panel (great for situations where you'd like to use a softbox but can't). Best term I can come up with for justification is that they're for "situational lighting". A buddy of mine, after seeing my lighting store, said he was a purest and only shot with available light. I told him "me too, that why I have a whole bag of lights that are available". You have to be pretty darn lucky to be able to have every shot with the light God gives you. Okay, so why, if I have all these lights (and that's just the flash variety) did I use a Miraclebeam nine LED flashlight to make today's image? To find out, hit the "read more".

I was flipping through Flickr the other day and came across Bill Lepere's Light Painting Set. Wow. I figured I had to try this technique. I've known about it for the past thirty years, but never really played with it. A quick Google search resulted in Erik Lawrence's YouTube tutorial titled Painting Beans. An excellent explanation of how he paints with light. Very cool. Now, I have the curiosity, I've had the process shown to me, the only thing I need is something to shoot. Here's an excellent to kill two birds with one stone. I was out at a meeting last night and, on the way home, stopped at a local grocery store. I bought a couple of props (rolls and flowers) and headed home. When I got home I presented the better half with a bouquet of flowers. Once I convinced her it wasn't a guilt offering because of anything that happened while I was out she got a kick out of why I bought them and thought it was a catchy idea. Alright, now I have (as they say on the crime shows) motive, opportunity, and ability (the props) to try my hand at painting with light.

The setup was fairly easy. I rooted through the cabinets and found a mug with some interest to the outside. A ceramic trivet we brought up in Maine last month became the plate and the roll and flower completed to diorama. The first shot was a test to see if the room was "dark enough". Movement of a couple of flags did the trick. The tech specs were F22 at 30 seconds. The second shot teased the light around the setup. That gave me an idea of how much light the flashlight threw and the spread of the beam. I quickly determined I could cut the shutter speed to 20 seconds and play the light into all the right spots to create the effect I was going for. Attempt number ten wound up producing a winner and then it was into the digital darkroom for development. I don't consider it too bad for a first "shot". A lot of ideas are swirling around that empty space between my ears. So plan of seeing more of my desktop (the basic platform used for today's image) in future posts.