Monthly Archives: August 2016

Light Painting a Musician: Finlay Hetherington

I got to know Finlay though a mutual acquaintance and I was delighted he was interested in taking part in my light painting project.

Light painting of musician and education Finlay Hetherington in front of a graffiti wall with his trumpet

A very simple background can be made interesting by light painting. We both immediately noticed and liked the word ‘love’ on that part of the wall.

Urban settings can work very well for light painting, and I’m always on the lookout for new locations. Typically, I want as many elements of design as possible, i.e lines, shapes, textures and colours in my backgrounds.

Light painting of musician and education Finlay Hetherington in front of a graffiti wall with his trumpet

I like to try a number of variations for each backdrop.

A dancer introduced me to the the graffiti wall and the old building seen in the first three pictures. We never collaborated on a light painting project, but I always kept these locations in mind.

Light painting of musician and educator Finlay Hetherington with his trumpet in an urban location

This location was challenging to light paint because of the street lights nearby that forced me to use a faster shutter speed than I would have liked.

It was pretty chilly on the night of these light paintings, and Finlay’s trumpet was freezing cold and thus really hard to hold while standing still. But after some time warming up in the car, Finlay still had some energy for a final setup. So we headed out looking for a location near the sea. The lighthouse in Newhaven would have provided a great backdrop, but unfortunately, it was too late by then and the sky was just too dark. But I knew of a location nearby with lines, shapes and colours (mostly red) that could work just fine. The photograph below is the last light painting we did on the day, after which Finlay and I were just too cold to carry on.

Light painting of musician and educator Finlay Hetherington with his trumpet sitting on a flight of stairs in an urban location

Lines and shapes abound in this location. I only needed to paint my subject and the stairs because I used the ambient light for the background.

Light Painting Trees

In my light paintings of musicians and dancers, the scene to light paint is relatively small. I can easily go through the scene a number of times to make sure I haven’t forgotten to light paint any part of it. And a moderately powerful LED light is good enough to do the job. Note that I never light paint the whole scene in one go, but only one part at a time and put together all of the shots in Photoshop.

I really want to hone my technique and push myself to do more and more challenging light paintings.

The bigger the scene to light paint, the harder it gets. One of the main difficulties in light painting a large scene is to remember which part of the scene one has already light painted. It thus pays to develop a systematic approach.

For the scene below, not only did I used a more powerful light than in my people light paintings, but I had to figure out which path I would take in order to light paint the whole scene.

Light painting of trees

There is a wooded area pretty close to where I live. I had noticed these trees a while back, and I immediately knew I wanted to light paint them.

iPhone Photography: Portobello Beach

There is a saying, attributed to Louis XVIII, that punctuality is the politeness of kings. I take being on time very seriously and because  I’m usually afraid to be late for an appointment, I’m often early.

iPhone photograph of Portobello beach, Edinburgh, Scotland,  with DistressedFX texture and flock of birds

I decided to include a little bit of the beach and Firth of Forth in my composition, reserving the largest part of the frame for the sky, because it was the most interesting element.

I used to rue the time I wasted waiting for the meeting or appointment because I was ahead of schedule. Not anymore. Now that I’ve learned to use the camera that is always with me, in my iPhone, I spend the time waiting for my appointment honing my iPhone photography skills.

iPhone photograph of Portobello beach, Edinburgh, Scotland,  with DistressedFX texture and flock of birds

Same composition and texture as in the first photograph, but with a different set of birds from the DistressedFX app.

On that day, I had a meeting in Portobello, and not surprisingly I was early. The light was good so I decided to stroll down to the beach to take some iPhone photographs.

iPhone photograph of Portobello beach, Edinburgh, Scotland,  with DistressedFX texture and flock of birds

This time, I left the originals colours more or less untouched and tried a different DistressedFX texture for a more somber mood.

I do like to add textures to my photographs, and one of my favourite apps is DistressedFX. With this app, not only can you easily overlay a wide variety of textures on your photographs, but you can also add a flock of birds.

iPhone photograph of Portobello beach, Edinburgh, Scotland,  with DistressedFX texture and flock of birds

Now for a different composition, excluding the sand beach from the picture.

I really recommend the DistressedFX app, but  I do  offer you this word of caution: it is very addictive!

iPhone photograph of Portobello beach, Edinburgh, Scotland,  with DistressedFX texture and flock of birds

Yet a different flock of birds for this last picture.