Innovative light painting technique

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by heath_hays, Feb 10, 2021.

  1. Hi I'm new and just getting back into photography to help promote the tables I build. I found another furniture maker on the net who explains a light painting technique where he uses a black background, 10 sec shutter speed and a flashlight to make professional looking photographs on a tight budget. I just bought a new T7 with the usual 18-55 kit lens and I plan on trying to duplicate his technique the best I can. But before I put a lot of effort into it I thought I'd run it past the knowledgeable people here for some advice and direction. The video will explain it better than I can. I edited it so it pretty much gets explained in the first minute of the video...

    Any advice on how I can improve on his technique?
  2. Looks fun. I have not used the technique, but I imagine you would want a flashlight with a high CRI (Color Rendering Index) to bring out all the colours in the tables.
    If you shoot jpeg, make sure you set the white balance for the flashlight light before exposure (no auto WB).
    If possible I would avoid the highest F stops as they degrade the image quality (below 11). You may instead choose a ND filter to extend the exposure time.
    I would consider a prime lens when you are familiar with what focal length is most suitable for you. The zoom is a ok starting point though.
  3. It's a very hit-or-miss technique to use for commercial lighting.

    The previous attemps shown in the video, using video panel lights, just show the use of inappropriate - and vastly overpriced - lighting. Those LED panels aren't meant for, and are no good for, lighting large objects like furniture. You need flash and softboxes, which can be bought quite cheaply.

    Once you have a flash lighting setup sorted, there's no need to play around in the dark with a flashlight. Sure, it's fun to do.... the first few times..... but it's never going to be consistent.

    This is a cheap softbox that takes a small speedlight inside.
    You'd probably need two of these to light a large table, but the cost would be maybe $300 for both, including stands and a radio trigger for the camera.

    A highly polished object like a table might benefit from some high backlighting to show the surface sheen. Backlighting, as the name suggests, is light that comes from behind the subject. This is tricky to acheive with the light-painting technique, without getting the flashlight and yourself into the picture.

    I'm not saying it isn't possible to get 'interesting' effects using light painting. Just that a proper lighting setup is going to be more consistent and doesn't have to cost the $thousands implied in that video.

    Try it. It'll only cost you the price of an LED hand flashlight.... and a load of time experimenting to get it right!
  4. Never seen this technique before. I wonder what the advantages are compared to one or two (DIY) softboxes and other lights which IHMO would be much better to adjust and keep stable. Since everything is fixed, the amount of light falling on the object doesn't seem to me to a huge problem. Your camera settings will determine how much available is captured.

    I've only ever had 1 or 2 amateur attempts at 'product photography', both of them for 3-D artworks. One thing that really helped me was using 'Live view' through a Laptop. On a large screen, you can see exactly what's in (manual) focus and what's not. And adjust accordingly. You should also be able to view photos on a large screen and adjust lighting and camera settings where necessary.

    Another thing that occurs to me is you ideally want lighting that expresses colors, textures and contrasts as well as possible. And that gives you reflections, shadows and highlights where you want them and not where you don't want them. At first sight, that seems quite difficult to do with this technique unless you have a lot of experience using it.

    Shooting in RAW allows you to make more adjustments to photos in post-processing.
  5. The light-painting technique is not new.

    Here is a rough application of it to a cave in Tennessee from 1982, and it wasn't new then either
    q.g._de_bakker likes this.
  6. Hmmm -- back in the 1960s, a company I worked for made a wide array of electro-mechanical devices, the largest of which might be 3x3x6 feet or more. Generally they were spray painted with a fairly glossy gray paint. Many or most were custom and they often photographed the finished unit before shipment. I remember a commercial photographer coming in and setting up some stationary hot lights, but during the actual exposure he used an additonal spun aluminum reflector, perhaps 15 or 16 inches in diameter, with a seriously hefty photoflood bulb. While the shutter was open he would go through a lot of fairly athletic gyrations jumping up and down, running side to side, and holding the reflector up high, down low, constantly moving it. I was not personally involved in those actual projects, but seeing prints of the photos at a later date, it appeared that besides lightening some shadows, it produced a line of specular reflection off the corners of intersecting planes in the cabinets which almost outlined the major forms. Nearly an in-camera USM!

Share This Page