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Light Painting on Tybee Island

We (Jess and I) decided to experiment with some light painting while on a visit to Tybee Island. I was inspired by the work of Eric Paré.

This was our first attempt, Jess was injured (don’t ask), and it was cold and windy. Less than ideal conditions for the long exposures required. I didn’t think we did that poorly for our first attempt:


Shout out to Jodie for the assist. She manipulated the light stick for the first day’s shooting, and assisted at camera for the second.

I used both a commercial “light stick” (a knockoff of the Ice Light) with a tungsten cover on it. The arcs like this required around a 1 second exposure. Some of the more complex movements took as long as 2.5 seconds. Staying still for 1 second doesn’t seem like too long of a time, but with the wind blowing and the cold it was definitely a challenge.

As it got darker the images became more dramatic. I was surprised at how bright that light was, even at its lowest setting, without the cover.


With the cover and more complex movements, we even got a “fire” look:


Somehow this seemed appropriate for a “warrior” pose. Even the sand was burning!

On the second day I decided to use a homemade light stick, using Eric’s tools of a fluorescent tube cover and a small LED flashlight. He used 2 flashlights (I assume one at each end), and now I think I know why. In any event it provided possibly an even more interesting look.

© Donald J. Fadel, Jr. |

Jess appears a little soft due to the longer exposures required for the more complex moves. The light falloff from the flashlight to the end of the tube (which is covered by a PVC cap) is evident, yet I like the effect.

Using the commercial unit and a sweeping motion yielded a “ribbon” of light.

© Donald J. Fadel, Jr. |

Again, some movement in the legs (probably because I was accidentally kicking sand in her face as I ran behind her with the light).

One trick to minimize movement was to essentially make her a silhouette; this hid a lot of sins and was in itself interesting. Simplifying the pose, we found out, was important too.

© Donald J. Fadel, Jr. |

I like how the “carpet” of light mimics the retention fabric she is standing on.

We also used these lights in a more traditional manner – as a continuous light source. This is from the commercial unit:

© Donald J. Fadel, Jr. |

This with the warming (tungsten) cover on. The 1/3 second exposure time seemed a luxury.

We’ll try this again after some tweaking in the process and developing a more formal shot list. There was a lot of trial-and-error here and this shoot was more exploratory than properly defined. Sometimes that’s not a bad thing.

More technical information on how this image was created can be found on flickr

More to come.

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