So, after reviewing the shots from my previous exercise, I decided to make a few tweaks.
Andy’s hacked LED flashlight (the man stuck an 18650 Li-Ion cell inside a $2.99 keychain LED flash. God that thing is bright) worked pretty decently in the previous light painting exercise, so I figured I’d up the fire power. Ran to Harbor Freight during lunch and picked up a 1 million candlepower flashlight for $12.99.
First try was to set the camera’s white balance to tungsten (since that’s what flashlights are), camera on a tripod, f/8, ISO100, bulb mode, and lock the shutter open in a dark room. For the sake of learning, I painted one side of the car at a time:
Here’s the front of my car
And the sides:
And here’s the combined shot:
There is some spillage of the light cone. Basically the parabolic reflector throws a pretty tight beam spot, but there’s some secondary reflection / refraction off the front lens cover that’s lighting up stuff I don’t care to light up.
A quick trip to the mail room for an envelope or two, and a bit of packaging tape, solved that problem:
Next, I set up my Photek softlighter with the secondary diffuser, and hoisted it up high on my light stand. I really need a sturdier stand, or something with a counterweight to help hold this up. By lighting from up high, I am hoping to eliminate the hot spot on the bodywork. Something to do with family of angles and stuff. .
HEY! This is pretty good. Of course, a softbox is kinda like a shotgun approach to lighting, but at least there’s a choke in this shotgun barrel.
One thing to note (if you zoom in on the original) is that the light stand holding up the Photek Softlighter is visible in the shot. It’s being back-lit by the softlighter, and shows up as black lines in the reflections in the window.
I fixed this by installing the diffuser the “wrong” way. Normally I don’t do this, as it eliminates the ability to tilt the softlighter and blocks off the flash’s controls, but for what I’m doing here, it solved my problem nicely:
I moved the car to shoot the driver’s side. While there, I also popped just the hazard lights by themselves, to give an idea of their contribution independently in the final image:
With the “gimpy” configuration on the softlighter, I retry the overhead lighting:
Not bad, but the sides are a bit dark. By the way, the strobe is at M1/16 and I’m firing 2-3 shots per second while slowly walking down the side of the car. Essentially turning my 60″ photek into a virtual, 8ft x 60″ strip lighting softbox. That’s powered by 4x AAs
Another shot, this time using a 70-200 for a tighter crop and less background clutter:
Looking nice. Need to do something about lighting the front surfaces though.
Here, after lighting the top and across the hood, I walked sideways across the front and held the softbox out to the side, aiming straight at the car.
Ooops, ended up in the camera’s field of view. The edge of the photek lights up from secondary bounce; so I have to be extra careful. The next time around I’m going to try to find a proper softbox, and probably put a cardboard grid on it to control the spread more.
Now that I have a better understanding, I reshoot the sequence, being mindful to stay outside the camera’s field of view at all times with the side firing softbox:
Straight out of camera, vantage point 1
Straight out of camera, vantage point 2
To get the camera low enough for the second shot, I twisted the Manfrotto tripod around like a pretzel:
And with a bit of editing in Lightroom:
The only mistake? I got into the car to flick on the hazards, HID lights and fog lights. The suspension reacted accordingly, so there is a mismatch where the side turn indicator lit up, versus where the indicator lamp sat during nominal exposure. Nuts.
I think I’m at the point where I’ve outgrown this warehouse – the white walls really distract from the final image, but it offered me a nice, warm and dry place to practice my light painting. By the way, here’s a behind the scene shot of the “studio”:
Total time: About 3 hours, after work, for about 20 images. And a lot of head scratching.
Now, I need to location scout for an outdoor place that’s got low ambient light…