First of all, a very important thing you have to know, before i start flushing my thoughts down the keyboard, is that i am student of photography. In 2010 on my fourth semester we had a project labelled as “Free”. Some thought it was literal, others tried to find “the deep meaning into this and what did the professor want to tell us by saying something like this”. Personally i had no idea what to do.
And one day, while i had no intention of initiating a project in the near future i “tripped over” a facebook post with this cool guitar image which caught my attention. There, i was introduced for the first time in light painting and i started experimenting instantly. I red about the specifics concerning the “How to” part of the technique, put my guitar on the bed and shot the first shot.
I knew it was nothing close to the one i saw but i was speechless! The fact that while in the room there was complete darkness i created lighting exactly on the spots of the guitar i wanted was, in a way, liberating! I could use the reflection of an item or choose not to, but still light the item. I could hide something that i didn’t want to show just by not putting my flashlight on it.
After multiple shots of almost every object in the house, i started getting the hang of it. But i knew that a series of random objects would not stand for a semester project, so i had to drain my brain and take this hole thing to another level. A good thing that was happening to me at the time was the fact that i found myself, at university, surrounded by a group of people who were all about experimenting on new techniques and helping each other. Consequently there was a lot of gathering going on, either indoor or outdoor. The outdoor part was a long shot for me as i could not yet handle the surroundings but most of all, it was winter and staying still for 15/30 seconds multiple times while it’s windy and cold during the night, is a hard task. It was a good thing we had a place to gather and play with our cameras.
At the time i was also watching the tv series “Avatar: The Last Airbender” so the idea i was looking for was there. I was about to present all sorts of elements mastered from different people. Of course i started with thunder, my favorite element 🙂
You can find the complete series, including and later work, on my page at DeviantArt.
The result left me with my mouth open. When i presented the project, my teacher loved it! He encouraged me to keep going and if possible try to break all mental boundaries and take it even further. I wanted to be a photographer only to live at night! And so i did for the two years to follow. Every night as soon as the sun dropped i was outside experimenting. I did not shoot only people. Buildings were also a target. I wanted to manipulate hole structures. And i knew i could. I just had to find a way to keep my camera shooting for even longer or find a stronger source of light.
Light painting is not just a different way of taking pictures. It’s a way to create a whole new reality based on the existing one. It’s the liberty of creating light beams or giving super powers to people. It’s the idea of using the absence of light at the larger part of your image and draw the attention only where you want to be. It’s literally painting the darkness with light. You have a black canvas in which you can do whatever the hell you want!!!
To this day, i still go out at night trying to shed some light in the dark and i can tell you that the thrill and excitement is still there! I truly encourage you to do it if you have not yet done so and furthermore let me know if you do so. I would be more than happy to learn about your experience on the matter 🙂