Photography: Dark with a spark

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Photography and light normally go hand and hand. When taking a photograph, it is important to get the appropriate exposure to make sure the viewer does not get distracted by a drastic difference in lighting. Light painting changes that.

Light painting is actually just how it sounds, painting with light. Instead of the photographer snapping photographs knowing how it going to exactly appear, light painting actually changes the art of what people normally think of “photography” completely. Creating a light painting photograph requires complete darkness and a camera that is able to withstand a very long shutter speed.

The shutter speed function on a camera controls how much light is able to go into the camera lens which is very crucial to how the image turns out. More information about the technical aspects of light painting can be found here.

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Therefore, once a timer is enabled in a completely dark room on a camera, people are able to take any source of light: flashlights, glow sticks, etc. and shine them in front of the camera. The possibilities of creation are endless, different words can be written and shapes can be drawn. When writing letters or words however, the tricky part is that they have to be written backwards and the artist has to cover their hand over the lens unless they want the light to drag all over the image and create a “cursive” like effect.

The creative process of light painting is unique as the creator does not necessarily know what their photograph is going to look like. That is where the excitement comes in. After hearing the shutter speed window click (meaning it shut and light can no longer go in) it is exciting to run over and view the image that has just been created. It is impossible to know exactly how the image turned out and whether or not the shapes that were drawn intentionally.

Thus, an interesting dynamic is created, a dynamic that includes the presence of the artist in front of the camera, yet is not able to be seen by the viewer, hiding in the darkness.

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