Light Painting Photo Shoot

Light Painter

Here are light painting photos I shot last weekend Saturday afternoon with model Molly. It was a fun experimental shoot trying different effects to create unique portraits. I was very pleased how the photos came out and Molly is an excellent model. This is the first time I used my home-made
and DIY design four foot LED light stick with a model, other than testing on myself and our cats.

For this shoot I turned my garage into a make-shift temporary studio with a black background and all light blocked out. At first I thought I could do this shoot outside at night, but after some experiments I found neighbor's lights, the street lamp, and the weather made it less than optimal and  not controlled.

I mounted a Cactus V5 radio trigger on my LED light stick for triggering both the camera shutter and LED stick, starting the LED display just after the shutter opens. While the shutter was open, I moved the LED light stick behind or to side of Molly. Before the shutter closed, two portable strobe flashes were triggered, one for the key light and another for fill light. Shoot through umbrellas softened the light from both flashes. I varied the exposure time from 8 to 15 seconds depending on the image size displayed by the LED light stick. For the camera aperture I used  either F11 or F13 with manual focus. The images displayed by the stick had to be modified to have low gamma, because the LEDs are too bright without adjustments at these F-stops.

Adobe Lightroom processed the raw Nikon images from this shoot and used Photoshop Elements for editing.

Reflecting on this successful shoot, I can see ways to improve the results. Looking forward to more light painting shoots.

Holding the Flag

Flower Power

The Scream
Background light from painting by Edvard Munch, The Scream, 1893.

Cat in the Studio

Flag Stars

Random Colors

Rainbow Twirl

Made In America Festival Philadelphia

Got to see the Budweiser Made In America festival concert  in Philadelphia over live and recorded video streaming this weekend. The video stream repeated today. It was great in HD video on my iPad, very sharp, great sound quality. Had to use the Atomic browser because Safari did not work well with the stream. Watching the video was almost as good as being there, better in some ways.

The groups and artists I was able to see so far were Run-DMC, Rita Ora (like), Hives (these guys rock), band X (like), Jill Scott (like), Eve, Rita Ora, Santigold (like), Jill Scott, Gary Clark Jr.. Missed Jay-Z, Pearl Jam.

Little Red Riding Hood

Models: Alia and Billy

I had no plan to make a Little Red Riding Hood photo when I went to the 3rd Photato Salad meet-up photo shoot and picnic on August 26, sponsored by the the Philadelphia Glamour Photography Group at the Ridley Creek state park near Newtown Square, PA. Albert Hefner did a great job organizing the event for models, makeup artists, stylists, and photographers. There were about 120+ participants. Had a great time. Unfortunately I could not meet or photograph every model there.

I made this Little Red Riding Hood composite photo from 3 images taken at the shoot using Photoshop to combine them. My two models, Alia and Billy, did a great job.

Grace Modla, my sister-in-law, suggested this video link and song to match my photo:

More photos from the shoot to follow...

Raspberry Pi

Got a couple of Raspberry Pi computers recently and began playing with these credit card size Linux machines. One will be used to make a large photo slideshow picture frame using a LED LCD monitor, that I can hang on my wall, and the other to replace the Netudino computer controller in my LED light stick, that I use for my light painting photography. This should give me a lot more power to create larger images with the LED light stick.

GPRCNA Fashion Show

Fashion designer, Carla Burnett, asked me to volunteer to photograph her show at the GPRCNA (Greater Philadelphia Regional Convention of Narcotics Anonymous) 2012 convention event in the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel, King of Prussia, PA on August 10th. I was happy to accept, support her, and help her promote her line. I  had not seen her for a couple of years so it was good to get acquainted again. As a plus, the show helped benefit a worthwhile group. Carla's sister, Hanifah (illadelphia Art) , and cousin (Halal Hustle) also displayed their work. It was a family affair.

Droste Models


On July 21, I attended a house party, lifestyle, glamour photo shoot named, "Photiesta, the First" organized by Albert Heefner with the Philadelphia Glamour Photography Group. 39 models, makeup artists, and photographers attended this meetup to network and create images for everyone's portfolio. Every time I go to an event like this, I improve my skills, and have fun.

Cat Horror Photo

Diffused Light Stick Painting (post-processing with Photoshop)

Flag Light Painting

Painted with the my LED light stick.

Iwo Jima Memorial

A recent trip to the Iwo Jima Memorial, Arlington, VA.

Arlington National Cemetery

A recent trip to Arlington National Cemetery

Memorial Day Flag

Waving the flag for Memorial Day.

Made with my LED light stick in a light diffusing box.

Random Lights

Spinning the LED Light Stick while it cycles through random rainbow colors. 15 seconds at F22, 28 mm. No diffusion sheet over LEDs.

La Gata

Here is my photo of our yawning cat redone as a light stick image (no diffusion sheet over the LEDs).

Technicals: LED Light Stick image cropped: 56 mm, ISO 200, +6 stop neutral density filter, F4.5, 10 seconds.
The image used in the light stick had .49 gamma color adjustment and resized to 80 x 64. The camera was on a tripod as I moved the stick, in a upward, downward, upward pattern. Moving the stick this way made the image more 3D like.

Here is a another version using a light diffusing film over the LEDs (without using a neutral density filter)::

Barnes Foundation

Listening to WHYY radio, Philadelphia, today on my way to work, May 16th, I heard a report by Peter Crimmins, about  the Barnes Foundation coming to Philadelphia.

Peter Crimmins gave an excellent overview about the move to Philadelphia and Barnes philosophy. One thing that struck me in his report was an audio clip from Dr. Barnes' about education:

Education is not primarily a preparation in youth for the future, but is a constantly developing process that covers the span of life, It's goal is to make what happens to us more understandable, more significant, by stimulating the initiative and inventiveness of each individual.

I also believe learning is a life long process too, not something you only do in school.

Photographer's LED Light Stick

Over the past few months I constructed a LED light stick for light painting night photography. It is a work in progress with more software to add, and other improvements to be made. I'm experimenting with it to see how it can be improved and be a photographer's tool.

I was first inspired to build a light stick from the Digital Light Wand by Michael Ross, Light Painting Photography,  and The LightScythe.

My design makes it easier to create and display images and patterns using the stick without doing any programming or code modification. The above example was made by twirling my light stick as it changed colors in a rainbow pattern.

I'll add more information as I update this post over time. Last updated on May 26.

Wakodahatchee Wetland

Really enjoyed the Wakodahatchee Wetland in Delray Beach, Florida. When I visited in early March, there were many photographers with all kinds of cameras and equipment. What a beautiful setting.

Prediction about Apple iPad 3-D

Will the forthcoming Apple iPad 3 have an extra [Display] Dimension? What a great marketing catch phrase for Apple:  iPad 3-D, if it does.

Only a few know for sure and they are not telling us. Based on what I see for the technology in the near future, it is not likely there will be a no-glasses display, such as the FujiFilm W3 camera screen, due to size and expense. Hope I am wrong about this because I would like a 3-D iPad with this type of display.

A less expensive possibility is a polarized screen that would require passive glasses. That idea seems contrary to Steve Job's vision of simplicity, so a no-glasses display seems like a requirement. But I don't think the glasses are so bad (I wear them all the time), especially if you can get prescription passive 3-D polarized glasses. I noticed filmmakers and editors who make 3-D movies use the glasses during the filming and post-production of their movies.

There are rumors on the net that the new iPad display has much higher resolution than earlier models. So if the display is improving, could it be designed for polarized 3D?

There are also rumors about a new forthcoming Apple TV system. If they sell a TV monitor would it have 3-D capability? I think it must, because 3-D is the future direction of cinema and 3-D technology has improved  for making these films. Due to the expense, a 3-D display, I think, would be a passive polarized display requiring glasses.

I don't think 3-D is a fad. It takes additional equipment, skill and knowledge to make really good 3-D media, along with all the other elements of 2-D cinema, like a good story, acting, etc.

If the iPad 3 has a 3-D display, then it would need four cameras, two in front and two in back. That would result in a top of the line iPad for sure.

Pina - Dance Documentary Film in 3-D

"Pina" is a modern-dance choreography documentary film in 3-D. I enjoy watching dance performances, so it's release caught my interest. The film is a tribute to Pina Bausch, a German choreographer by director Win Wenders.

I want to see this film, but can't find this documentary movie in any Philadelphia area theaters yet.

Quoting from the article above:
Despite the public's limited ability to see 3-D now, Wenders has no plans to shoot in 2-D ever again

The filmmaker and Pina director Wim Wenders said "That would be like returning to something ancient."
I am beginning to take Wender's stance with my photography, and am doing more 3-D work when I can. I noticed that my Youtube videos of my still photos get many more views when they are 3-D.

Hugo 3D Movie

"Hugo" in 3-D is an excellent movie. I liked everything about this movie, the story, the actors, costumes, sets, special effects. And especially the excellent 3-D imaging. Based on the award winning illustrated novel "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" by Brian Selznick, it is about the early French filmmaker George Melies. Martin Scorsese directed the movie and celebrates early film-making with Hugo. After seeing the movie I read Brian Selznick's "Hugo Movie Companion" describing how the movie was made. It's amazing to see what it took to create a movie like this.