Light Painting

Light Painting With An LED Light Panel

Light Painting With An LED Light Panel

A little while back, I decided to try an LED Light Panel in my night photography.  I'd seen a few mentions of people using them in night photography circles and when I saw night photography friend Royce Bair's comments about them in his e-book, I knew I had to give it a try.
    
Now that I've used it for a while both on my own and in the night photography workshops I teach together with Darren White, I've found it to be a great addition that allows us to do a few things we weren't previously able to do.  As a result, it's now a required part of my light painting toolkit.

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The Best Flashlight For Light Painting

The Best Flashlight For Light Painting

Background
A little while back, I posted an article where I reviewed the Brinkmann Dual Xenon Spotlight for light painting.  At that point, it was the best light I'd seen for night photography and it became my favorite "brush" for light painting.  The neutral to warm tint and the gentle, even cast of light worked well in a variety of light painting situations.

Problems With Availability
Not long after posting the article, supplies for the dual xenon spotlight dried up.  I had stirred the interest in people's minds but now they couldn't find the light.  As a result, I've had a pretty steady stream of people asking for an alternative light.  And while, my dual xenon spotlight still works great for me, I felt the need to help find a good light to recommend to others so I decided to take another look at which light would be a best choice for the night photographer looking to add some light painting...

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How Do You Light Paint In A Starry Night Photograph?

How Do You Light Paint In A Starry Night Photograph?

Having recently taken a look at my favorite "Paint Brush" for night photography (the Brinkmann Dual Xenon Spotlight), I wanted to share some of the techniques I've developed for creating great nightscape images with light painting.  That's right, there's a lot more to it than just turning the light on and pointing at your subject...  so read on and see what approaches I was able to figure out work best.  If you missed the review on the Brinkmann Spotlight, see it here.

In the image shown to the right titled "Fingers In The Fire", I captured a vertical panorama showing the Milky Way stretching all the way from one horizon to another.  I used an indirect Light Paint Spike™ with my hand to illuminate the big tree in the bottom of the image and a direct Light Paint Stroke™ on the trees that appear in the top.  Both of these techniques are described below.

Why I Hesitated To Use Light Painting For So Long
It's not easy to tell by looking at my portfolio today, but I stalled for quite some time before actually starting to use light painting in my night photography - mostly because I wasn't impressed with a lot of light painting efforts I'd seen.  Many of them used light painting that was so strong that it overwhelmed the image and didn't look natural...

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Brinkmann Dual Xenon Spotlight

Brinkmann Dual Xenon Spotlight

To some people, it may seem a little strange that a tool built for the auto industry turns out to be such a good choice for light painting foreground subjects under the starry night sky, but that's the case here.  That's right, the Brinkmann Dual Xenon Spotlight (originally built for the automobile repair industry) works as an excellent light painting tool - so I thought I'd post a full review to let you know why it's such a good choice.

As a night photographer, I'm looking to capture great night nightscape images.  And while I'm often shooting in the dark of the night with little to no moonlight, I find that I can add a lot of depth to my images with some subtle light painting.  So over the years, I've been improving my gear and my techniques to make the process easier and the results even more subtle and natural looking.

What Makes A Good Light Paint Brush?
I've found there are several factors in deciding which light painting flashlight I like to use most: color temperature, even cast of light, adjustability, etc.  In that direction, I really like the Xenon bulbs because they are a very neutral color temperature compared to the more common LED lights.  I find that the LED lights are a bit too cool in temperature which needs to be adjusted in post-processing.  Given the choice, I prefer to use a warmer light during the capture so I don't have to do that manipulation in post...

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