Playing with Fire and Light

A couple of weeks ago, a few friends of mine arranged a night photo shoot to have some fun with light painting and long exposure shots. We headed to this abandoned building in the middle of nowhere and a brave volunteer worked his magic with just some steel wool stuffed in a whisk and swung on a chain. Here’s what I got. I loved the results and can’t wait to do some more of this.







Here’s something I tried while I was playing around with the 2 axis head on the tripod. I set the exposure to around 10 seconds and then moved the camera on X and Y axis while focused on a string of street lights. This might make a good wallpaper for my mobile phone.




There was this structure that I lit up using a flashlight and managed to get the stars in the shot as well. The yellow haze is light reflected off clouds from the street lights and just above that the stars are visible.


Towards the end of the session we played around with one of those LED key-chains and got the following samples.




While I was editing the pictures I remembered that I’d taken some similar pictures of the Fire Dancers at this year’s Sand Sculpture expo so I figured those would fit into the theme of this post. So here are some shots from the event.

Fire dancers at Remal Festival 2014

Fire dancers at Remal Festival 2014

Fire dancers at Remal Festival 2014

Fire dancers at Remal Festival 2014

Fire dancers at Remal Festival 2014

Fire dancers at Remal Festival 2014

Shooting stars

Last weekend a couple of friends and I tagged along with Q8Geek as he led to the desert area in Salmi to shoot star trails. This was my first star gazing trip, as was for most of the others in the group and we didn’t know what to expect. The absence of light pollution in the desert really opens up the skies and we were amazed to see so many stars in the night sky. The North Star was quite visible and so was the Milky way galaxy.

The only weak link in the equation was my ill preparedness and the choice of equipment. I took my Nikon D60 and 18-55mm kit lens for the trip but it turned out that my camera’s ISO sensitivity wasn’t enough to get details in the night sky. I took some shots in bulb mode with exposure times as long as 390 seconds. The extremely long exposure was good for capturing the movement of the stars but it also ended up a ton of noise and heat spots from the sensor heating up from the exposure time. You can see the noise in this cropped shot below

Next time I’m going to take my GX1 since it can go up to ISO6400 and I won’t go beyond 20 seconds for each frame. Instead of extremely long exposures I’ll be taking multiple shots and then stacking them up using a free utility called Deep Sky Stacker. In the mean time I’ve compiled a list of resources which may come in handy for those who want to try their hand at star photography. The links are below;

Basic tips for photographing the stars [link]

Tips for photographing stars with basic equipment [link]

Tips on photographing stars [link]

Introduction to shooting star trails [link]

Your complete guide for photographing star trails [link]

Quick tip to capture the beauty of the stars [link]

Update: Here’s a nice one taken by a photographer in our group, Binu (Canon 60D and Tamron wide angle lens)

Shooting light beams

A lot of people create light beams in Photoshop for their action figure shots but then there are some others who want the real deal. I’ve been following the work of various photographers in the Gunpla and Action Figure groups to learn how they achieve this effect and now I’ve done it myself !

You need
1. Focused LED light
2. Candle light or tea light

For this to work, there should be only two sources of light during the shoot or you wont get a good effect. Position your action figure the way you want it and setup the tripod so that its in your range of view. Now Set the Shutter speed to anywhere from 10 to 15 seconds while in shutter priority mode.

Set the camera to go off on timer and then bring the LED to the starting position of the beam and when the shutter opens gently draw along the imaginary light path. When you complete that then you need to fill in the light using your candle or tea light. Make a few passes to highlight the model or create shadows. Thats it ! All this in 10-15 seconds.

Heres what it should look like finally.

SD firing
Gundam Wing Chest Beam