Due to happenstance, like that which occurs every day on the Internet, I came across a rather interesting and useful video on light painting. This is nothing new, and I have been aware of this technique for years, but for some reason there was an “a-ha” moment.
The concept is simple; get a dark room, close down the aperture down to f22, set the shutter speed to 20 seconds and you are ready to go. After hitting the shutter, turn on an LED flashlight (or two) and liberally dabble and dwell on areas you want to light. Check your results and then think of ways you can improve the shot: adjust your aperture, adjust your shutter speed, change the distance from the LED to the target and adjust your dwell time.
Not only does this give you an incredible amount of control over the lighting of the subject, but it also allows provides a great, real life and quick lesson in the nature of light and how it falls off.
Obviously, this is aimed at studio photography, but the same concept applies to the great outdoors. Inexpensive lighting is available to everybody, from car headlights to bright LED flashlights, thus making this technique very affordable to all.
For the photo enthusiast this opens up a brand new world to explore. Too often that we feel hindered by the lack of money to purchase the equipment to do really cool stuff. But with this technique, you can produce great work that isn’t limited by your pocket book.