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Light Painting: Vanier Park

  • Nov 23, 2013 · 4:00 PM
  • This location is shown only to members

[The date is tentative. I've mentioned in the past that I don't call an event on account of some rain, but in this case I'd rather not be out painting under falling cats, although a drizzle or mist is just fine, if not usable. So be wary of a date change. And now, on to the show...]

Light painting is a technique where we create drawings and designs with the use of light sources and long exposures. Here we are not capturing the emitted light of static objects but adding graphics with moving lights, ones that we control.

Above: Digital Design: Light Painting by Vancouver Film School

Vanier Park will offer us many opportunities for making light paintings. There are backgrounds to paint against like landscape, cityscape and some building planes. There are elements to paint on like sculptures, cluster of trees, a submarine. There is, especially, lots of space for us to perform. And since we'll be there before sunset, we'll have the opportunity to paint will all these during the goldening, the gloaming and the darkness.

This is our first light painting event, so we'll keep it simple and safe. We'll try out various simple light implements. We'll not use paraphernalia that create sparks or flames, so no burning of steel wool, etc. this time. With a bit of luck, we'll get into more advanced techniques in a future event.

How to
Firstly, of course, take your time to choose your scene and subject. Then set the shutter speed to a long preset (or B/Bulb) and release the shutter. Now it's time to perform, so with light device step into the scene and paint, write, doodle, wash, wave, create mood lighting, romp. Don't worry about yourself so much, because the time lapse is long enough that you will either appear as a ghost or not at all. In any case, explore and experiment, have fun and progress.

Above: light-painting by Marko De la Light

Okay, so there is a little more finesse and detail than that (I'll add a few tips and trick a little later). Although I'll try to answer your questions, I highly recommend reading the following articles for more in depth and clear information. And, explore Flickr for more great examples.

Light Painting Part One – the Photography
Light Painting Tutorial Video - Fun with Photography
Painting with Light
Light Painting Photography
And for fun, freddiew : Light Warfare

What to bring
- It's preferable to have a camera with manual settings that includes "B/Bulb” so you can control the exposure and timing. Before you start the performance, you check and set the exposure to your liking, and lock it. Here we'll typically be using long exposures, 30s to many minutes. "B/Bulb" allows you to keep the shutter open as long as you wish. Manual (along with a tripod) also allows you to set the ISO very low which reduces color noise and increases exposure times.

- A sturdy tripod is quite useful and convenient because you can place it anywhere and can adjust the camera to your eye level. Of course you can prop your camera on some object. Bring a tripod. With very long exposures like these, weighing the tripod down with your bag can help steady it.

- A cable release with a locking mechanism (and a timer to keep track), or a remote trigger so you can be hands-free.

- Extra battery packs, because long exposures and the cold will eat up battery charge rather quickly.

- A flashlight (or a screen light on your mobile or a headlamp) so you can check camera settings and other equipment in your bag. But more importantly, to paint with; these are our brushes. Bring more than one to try different sized beams and intensities. Incandescents produce a yellowish light while LEDs can produce a range of color and are more powerful.

- Various light sources for painting, writing, doodling, gesturing, such as glow sticks in various colors (chemical ones that are single use or LED that are battery powered). You can pick up various light sources for a few bucks at your local variety store or a dollar store.

- A great thing to have with you is a partner in play, or misdemeanor, so you can take turns exposing or making elaborate paintings together. We'll buddy up.

Above: light painting round a tree by Aaron Sneddon

[Sparklers aren't much of a hazard; I'm trying to get more info on using them in parks.]

The Walk-about
We'll explore Vanier Park. We'll meet in front of the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre (1100 Chestnut Street) at 16:00. We'll make introductions, ask questions, then set ourselves loose to have fun and photograph. And also to check the place out and set up. We'll end the Meetup officially at the sculpture "Gate to the Northwest Passage" at 18:30. After the event we'll meet at Las Margaritas Mexican Restaurant [masked]th Ave W, corner Maple St) at 19:00 we're we can share warmth, photos and conversations.

The Aim
The function of the group is to learn and practice the techniques of photography. This involves learning photography not only from your guides but also by sharing knowledge with your group-mates. The intention is also to organize and get to know new people. The attendant size of the meets will be small so participants can have the opportunity to get to know all their group-mates and spend time with a guide. If you select to attend a meet and then cannot make it, please be courteous to others in the group and change your RSVP status as soon as possible to allow others who might be on the waiting list the chance to participate.

The Après-Meet
Please feel comfortable in posting your photographs and advising others; critical appraisal is helpful. What will also be appreciated are ratings and, especially, comments to individual meets and the group dynamic as a whole. This is important because it will ultimately add value to our meetings and improve our experience.

Light painting exercises

Here's some exercises to get us started.

A good way to learn is to buddy up, so one can paint while the other can control the trigger or give feedback. You can even collaborate with more people so two or more are painting a scene at the same time.

1- The simplest thing to try is making shapes, around you or another object. With a penlight, draw a circle in front of you, or a tree, or a wall, or even circumscribe yourself. Do it more than once to get a feel of the pace you need for different light implements. Then try a square and a triangle, or all three together.

2- Another challenge is writing a word. Find a cool background and write a word that expresses who you can be or what you're doing.  Then you can try writing expressions.

3- A little more challenging then is drawing on your partners. Take turns drawing each other's outline in cool poses, or light them up by placing the light implement in various spots in front or behind and turning it on for a moment. 

4- Now to paint. Pick some scenery, turn towards your background and use it like a canvas. Fill in areas by making strokes with the light tool or draw new things on it. You might have to move along a larger space but your partner should help guide you.

5- Be creative. Whatever you bring with you and decide to use, whether a penlights, small flashlights, little LED lights, glow sticks (they're so-so), wands, finger lights, xmas lights, flash, strobe, sparklers, etc., cut loose, experiment and connect with your imagination to create fascinating images, and have fun. 


Here's a couple of photos to get you more enthusiastic that Sharon and I took a couple nights ago. So yes, it was so much fun!


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  • Dionysios

    In case you were considering steel wool for light painting or if any of you were wondering why we didn't do it.

    http://www.slrlounge.com/photography-project-accidently-sparks-grass-fire-kansas

    Some students caused a spreading grass fire with their photo project.

    1 · February 10, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hopefully see you all next time!

    November 24, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Thanks Dionysios for organizing ! Not able to join the dinner afterwards

    November 24, 2013

  • Shannon L.

    Great fun night, Dionysios! Thanks for organizing!

    1 · November 23, 2013

    • Brigitte

      Thanks Shannon for your help and special little helper. He was awesome !

      November 24, 2013

  • Brigitte

    WOW. That was so much fun !!! Thanks Dionysios for organizing and thanks to everyone for your help and props. Can't wait to experiment with this more in the future. So glad to have been able to participate :)

    November 24, 2013

  • Dionysios

    Well, wow! I had a lot of fun. And from the sounds we heard in the fields, I think y'all did too. So, with some experimenting and creativity we managed to make very cool things appear on the photo frame. I'm quite eager to see your stuff. So please, please post your photos so we can be wowed again.

    Thank you all for coming out to play. We will be doing light painting again for sure in the coming months. It feels like it can be one of those recurring events.

    I'm sorry I did not get to chat with all of you, but next time we'll buddy up into larger teams so we can more easily find each other, share equipment and ideas, and inspire each other to create awesome photographs.

    Merci beaucoup et à la prochaine!

    November 24, 2013

  • Candy

    It was awesome and lots of fun! Thanks Shannon for the great idea and the big help of your little helper! Thanks Brigitte for the ride, such a wonderful person you are! A big thank to Dionysios for organising! Hope we can do that again in the near future!

    1 · November 23, 2013

  • Andres M.

    This was a really cool idea. Thanks Dionysios for setting it up, and nice meeting you all :)

    November 23, 2013

  • John M.

    Also, Dionysios, thanks again for organizing. I had a great time. Sorry I could not make the Mexican dinner. I had other commitments this evening.

    November 23, 2013

  • John M.

    Excellent! First time I've ever done this type of photography. Really appreciated the opportunity to learn more about this technique.

    November 23, 2013

  • Jim

    Looks as if i will be fifteen minutes late sorry

    November 23, 2013

  • Wes S.

    Oops my other half just told me we have a previous occasion. Darn it I was really looking forward to this. So will have to wait until the next one. Changed my RSVP to no now.

    November 23, 2013

  • Dionysios

    Hi guys. Like I said before, we will not be doing steel wool to-night. We're doing this in a park and it is not the place for burning and spinning steel wool. The embers are large and there is a definite risk of fire. We are not set up for that. When we do do that next time, we'll be in a non combustible spot with extinguishers. I think sparklers will be fine of course to-night. SO NO STEEL WOOL.

    November 23, 2013

    • Rob

      There are open beach areas that should provide a safe zone for combustibles!

      November 23, 2013

    • Dionysios

      No their ain't. It's against the law dude.

      November 23, 2013

  • julian

    hey, the pictures look pretty cool. I hope I can get something like this later tonight.

    November 23, 2013

  • Chris O.

    I am planning on bringing some steel wool and an egg wisk to set on fire and spin around. What is everyone else bringing?

    1 · November 22, 2013

    • Rob

      I'm bringing some sparklers, flash with gels and flashlight...

      1 · November 22, 2013

    • Shannon L.

      glow sticks, flashlights, and good idea Rob, I think I'll dig out my gels.

      November 23, 2013

  • Dionysios

    Hi folks, I added Rob because I will be borrowing one of his DSLR cameras. Yeah, I know, me and a DSLR; should be hilarious. Also, have y'all been reading up on light painting? It's important you come with your light tools and some knowledge. It's pretty easy anyway and we'll do a recap and answer questions as usual at the beginning of the meet.

    À bientôt.

    2 · November 19, 2013

    • Dionysios

      Holy cow! And the weather looks like it's going to cooperate!

      3 · November 19, 2013

    • Dionysios

      Hi folks. I hope y'all are a little excited about our event, because I can confirm that, after doing some light painting last night, that it is sooo cool! I think we're going to have a lot of fun. It doesn't take long to get into a groove and the results can be incredible. Alors, à bientôt!

      2 · November 22, 2013

  • Doris F.

    Hi all, does anyone have an extra remote release (i.e., ML-LR wireless remote) for a Nikon D90 that I may possibly borrow on Sat? I have been so busy that I did not think of this sooner...Thanks.

    November 21, 2013

    • Shannon L.

      sorry Doris. I don't have an extra. I'll be there though so please if you remember, could you bring the tripod piece? Thanks. :-)

      November 21, 2013

    • Doris F.

      Absolutely, that is foremost on my mind! I will try L&S on Saturday for the remote...for some reason they are not answering their phone. Amazon also sells them (and cheaper, most likely) but a little late for that. Maybe LD? Will try. Thanks, Shannon!

      November 21, 2013

  • Peter H.

    Would adding a second date be reasonable? Seems there is about as many wanting to go as are currently registered.

    1 · November 15, 2013

    • Peter H.

      I think so. I was suggesting a second group on a second evening -- maybe even in another place. I don't want to suggest a make-work project for someone else, though -- more like if someone who knows how to do this can't get enough of it and wanted to teach at another go-round. I don't know how to light paint yet myself, so I wouldn't be much help. Thanks!

      November 17, 2013

    • Dionysios

      Right, I do know people who have done it and like it, but I alone right now cannot schedule a second one in the coming weeks. But we will do it again in the next few months. Of course I'll talk to and try to convince my friends to host one. How's that?

      1 · November 18, 2013

  • Darrell M.

    Hopefully another spot will open. By the time I check my e-mail-s, the available spot is gone.

    November 16, 2013

  • Dionysios

    Hi folks. Did y'all notice the torrent we had last night? Well, I don't think we'd be doing light painting with that much rainfall. I don't wish to cancel an event, so stay tuned for a new venue with enough cover for us to play in case it is raining to muchly. Another spot I thought would be good would be under the Burrard Bridge. Keep an eye out for changes.

    November 16, 2013

  • Deeps

    Sorry I have to bow out due to work commitments.

    November 15, 2013

  • Dionysios

    Just like the other event, I won't be increasing the attendance size because I wish to keep it small and vivid. If your plans change, please remove yourself from the list to give someone else the chance to participate. If you don't show up you will be put on the naughty list.

    This is also a good time to hit the dollars stores for things to light paint. You must bring your own light implements, I wont be supplying them to the group. See y'all there.

    November 3, 2013

    • Dionysios

      Bonjour! Have y'all been reading the articles above? Does anybody have any questions?

      1 · November 8, 2013

    • Brigitte

      Hit the dollar store yesterday. I can't wait to play :)

      November 8, 2013

  • Melissa

    Can I invite a friend?

    October 30, 2013

    • Dionysios

      Sorry Melissa, like I told Phyllis, I'd like to give members a chance on this one.

      October 31, 2013

  • Candy

    Dion, this sounds so interesting, I love to try it! Do we have to wear something dark/ black, so we won't be too visible on the photos? What would happen if we wear white/ light color outfit?

    October 30, 2013

    • Dionysios

      Dark clothing can help to appear less conspicuous.

      October 31, 2013

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