I love painting with light. As a control-freak photographer (not always but often), I like the idea of having complete control over the illumination of my image. Every pixel of the image is lit because I wanted it lit, and is lit HOW I wanted it lit. The color of the light, direction of the light, brightness of the light... all of these elements are under my control.
A couple of weeks ago I took my assistant and a friend (Joel and Decker) to a waterfall in Owego, NY at a midnight. It was pitch black. The waterfall was less than 100 yards off of the road, but in the pitch black it was certainly a perilous route! We each had flashlights and I had my camera, flashes, pens lights, gels, tripod and cable release.
I have talked about painting with light before in my blog, but this was one of my favorite.
First we lit the scene from the front... and the images were... frankly... ghastly! They were boring, flat and just unpleasing to the eye.
Next I had Joel walk up and down the waterfall (in the pitch black) illuminating the water with nothing more than a tiny white pen light. I was actually amazed the the results. The water was lit in a surreal and glowing manner, and the flowing water looked soft and silky. Be sure to compare this image with other images, and see how the constant light source effects the water in comparison with the flashes.
Aperture: f 5.6
Shutter speed: 77 seconds
Next I had Joel light the waterfall with flashes. I had him climb the side of the falls, and illuminate the falls from a back 30 degree angle so that he was lighting mostly from the side of the falls. This gave them depth and interest. He used 1 580EX flash, which had a significantly faster recycle time than the 550s I had.
Finally I had him illuminate the falls using two flashes, one with no gel and the other with a blue gel. The resulting image was vibrant and surreal, just like the scene had been professionally lit by a movie company!
Aperture: f 5.6
Shutter speed: 220 seconds