On Thursday April 9th I participated in a “Painting with Light Workshop” at Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta, GA. Judith Pishnery of Pisconeri Studio & Workshops brought us together for a night of photography and learning.
We began the night around 7pm filling out releases and donning nametags on the porch of the visitor’s center. After an introduction by Judith and some words from the cemetery staff we were left to wander the cemetery to get acquainted and take some pre-nightfall photos.
Around 8:30 Judith gave a presentation explaining how to paint with light. Although I had done some small experiments with a handheld speedlight and have written my name in the air with a flashlight before I had never “painted with light” to create a “real” photograph and I was looking forward to giving it a try.
Right away I learned that using a camera flash handheld really doesn’t put out as much light as I thought it did. Multiple flashes, 5 or 6, produced very little extra light even though each flash felt blindingly bright to me. A 6-volt camping flashlight slowly passed over a subject produces a much brighter image than a flash.
I was also surprised by the results of a small but very bright LED flashlight, which to my eyes appears very bright even if it is on the blue side of the spectrum, but to the camera’s sensor it was very dim indeed. The camping flashlight with its old-school style bulb was brighter and whiter than either LED flashlight I tried.
My best results were with using the 6-volt lantern panning it slowly first horizontally and then vertically to ensure total coverage of the subject(s) while the camera’s shutter was held open in bulb mode for as short as 20 seconds and as long as 3 minutes. Then in Lightroom I did some quick tweaking only spending some real effort on two of the photos to knock down some distracting lights.
This workshop was a lot of fun and I look forward to using what I learned in the future.