Photo Friday: Painting With Light

As loaded as our canoe was with food and camping supplies during my family's trek from Kingston to Ottawa, my vacation was also about capturing images with my camera. I had spent some time, in planning, on what lenses and equipment I would be bringing. Should I carry only a couple of lenses or only one? My 18-55mm or my 70-300mm?

In the end, I figured it was better to be safe than sorry, to make sure I wouldn't regret leaving something at home. So I brought all of my equipment, including my tripod.

There are many times when I carry my tripod but never use it, so why would I put in in the canoe, and why would I not even bother putting it in the dry bag with my camera bag? For one thing, I didn't care if it got wet: it's made of metal and plastic, both of which would dry if they got soaked. Also, it was small enough that I could slip it along the side of the canoe, keeping it out of the way.

The only real risk was if we were to tip and all of our contents fell out. That sucker would end up at the bottom of whatever lake or river we were in. It was a calculated risk, and considering the fact that I kept my camera out, sitting next to me in my seat in calm water, I had more valuable items to lose.

I made use of my tripod a couple of times during our trip, including our first evening, at Lower Brewer Lockstation. The locks, boats, and structures at the lower end of the locks were irresistible as the sun disappeared on the horizon.

I set my tripod on the solid ground near the mooring docks and shot lots of pictures of the art shop across the water and down the cut-through from which we had come, where a few boats were tied up for the night.

One of the boaters who was closest to where we set up camp stopped with his son to chat. His son had an entry-level Canon D-SLR and they were interested in learning about time exposures. I was taking a few 30-second exposures and told them how I experiment with the aperture and shutter speed until I get the desired effect. I let the son use my tripod and we tried a few exposure settings so he could become familiar with his camera.

I had taken a couple of photos that had his boat in the frame, and the man, Chris, liked the results. He gave me his business card and asked if I would forward the photo. I told him that if he wanted a shot of his boat, I could do better. I could paint it with light.

I took another 30-second exposure, but this time I took my flashlight and ran up to his boat, shining the light all over the front and length of the boat. The resulting image showed the twilight, but his boat was lit up with much detail.

That's the shot I sent him.

I wanted to experiment more with light painting, so I told him I would walk up to the top of the lock. When I was in position, I would signal him and all he would have to do was to push the button on my cable release (I said I brought everything; what's the point of bringing the tripod without a cable release?).

When I signalled Chris, I proceeded to run back and fourth across the lock gate, shining my flashlight downward on the huge doors. I also shone my light on the water, below. Because it was a long exposure, I would not appear in the shot. I was careful to keep the light pointed downwards so that the light wouldn't appear directly in the shot. The only evidence of my presence is the wobbly light along the railing at the top, which is reflected in the water. I could clean that up, but I like how it shows what I was up to.

Here's the shot.


What do you think?

Thanks to Chris for the company and conversation, and for pressing that button for me. There's no way that I could have done it and reached the top of the lock before the 30 seconds was up. I also want to give thanks to his son, Connor, for his interest in photography. I hope you play with your camera and get the shots you want.

Happy Friday!

Comments