Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Lightpainting the Town

Ever see a photograph where you can't quite tell how they did it? Light seems to come from out of nowhere. You wonder how did those weird streaks get recorded in the picture? Or why does the subject seem to glow in funky ways?

Take the image to the left. I shot this for a product portfolio several months back and have always liked the various bits of motion and action in the composition. What's going on in the shot to come up with this one?

I used three lights. I blue-gelled my Nikon speedlight and fired it into the white seamless backdrop from off camera left. Then I left the shutter on my camera open another 8 seconds while I took 2 different flashlights and lit the front of the bottle for a moment, then danced their lights off of the background. Then I took one of the flashlights and illuminated the back of the bottle for a second or two. Finally, I made the arcing streaks of light emerge from the bottle top to resemble an erupting volcano.

Also, there is the extra layer of color contrast going down in this shot. The bottle glows a warm tone, which your eye/brain complex interprets as moving towards you. The cooler blue background appears to recede away from the viewer.

So the result? Don't know about you, but it makes me want to go crack open another BAWLS Root Beer!