Light up the landscape
Master the art of light painting
When we’re on a landscape shoot, most of us tend to call it a day once the sun has dropped below the horizon, but there is a way to carry on shooting long into the night, and that’s to light up the landscape yourself.
The basic idea is to literally paint your subject with a torch during a long exposure so that it stands out against the darker background. Without this extra helping of light, it would either get lost against the background, or it would just be completely silhouetted. The light also helps pick out texture and detail, especially if you stand off to one side and ‘paint’ from an angle.
For our light-painting project we headed down to the south coast of England to photograph Pulpit Rock. We took along a million-candle-power torch to light up the rock stack, and a 14-24mm f/2.8 lens to enable us to fit everything in. We also took along plenty of spare batteries, so that we wouldn’t run out of juice mid-shoot.
As with cityscapes (see The Blue Moment on page 16), the best time to paint with light is when there’s still some light in the sky – that way you can expose for the sky and then use your torch to reveal your subject, and balance the exposure.
You don’t need to visit Pulpit Rock, of course; you can paint with light on any scene. Rocks, grass, buildings, trees… there really isn’t any limit to the subjects you can illuminate. Read on to find out how it’s done...