Tutorial

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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How To Focus In The Dark

How To Focus In The Dark

Focusing in the dark can be a tricky task... and it can certainly be frustrating to go to all the effort of shooting at night only to get home and find that the scene wasn't quite in-focus. When it comes to focusing at night, there are a few options that work better than others.

Option #1 - Hard Stop At Infinity
I really like it when I'm using a lens that has a hard stop on the focus ring at infinity. This allows me to more easily set the focus on infinity which works really well in most cases.  In-fact, this approach is so easy that I use it whenever I'm using a lens that allows it.  Some of my lenses however, have the ability to focus past infinity which complicates the process. Back to the simple approach, I just make sure I know which way to turn the focus ring before I get out into the dark and then use just turn the ring all the way in the correct direction. I've heard of some people taping the focus ring (with gaffers tape) but I don't typically do that...

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