BY Kyle James
Sometimes the photo isn’t so much what I’m looking at, but what I can put into what I’m looking at. Long exposures are one of my favourite kinds of photos to take and I really enjoy adding a bit of character in the frame with my own flare.
This photo came from a creative collaboration with a local photographer friend of mine, Zuzy Rocka. We each came with ideas on what we would like to achieve and coincidentally all the ideas involved some sort of light painting (using a torch to create lines, shapes or effects in photos). We walked around the village, scouting out potential backgrounds or settings for these ideas and settled on these rather cute trees. We ended up doing an hour or so of long exposures and had a whole lot of fun—laughing at the ones that didn’t quite work out and being stoked on the ones that did. This photo session really confirmed being able to bounce ideas off another creative photographer is one of this industry’s blessings.
Now, the technical part, how to create a similar photo! First thing you’ll need is a tripod. This will keep the camera steady during the long exposure, which can run anywhere between 15 to 30 seconds depending on the effect you are trying to create.
Next, either a remote or a shutter delay setting on your camera (waits two seconds after you press the shutter button before it takes the photo) which eliminates any hand shake that might otherwise affect your photo. If you are shooting photos on your own, feel free to set the delay to longer to let you get into position easier.
Set up your camera, manually focus on the area you will be light painting in and hit the shutter button. It’s up to you then to get into position and draw as accurately as you can in the dark…with a phone flashlight (or other small light source). Don’t worry if the first one, or ten, don’t turn out properly, this is part of the fun for these types of photos. Good luck and have fun!
I have included the camera settings for this photo below as a reference for you. If you do try a light painting long exposure I would love to see your efforts— feel free to shoot me an email or tag me on Instagram.
Settings: focal length 35mm / ISO 400 / aperture f/8.0 / 20 seconds exposure
Kyle James is a photographer & filmmaker from Sun Peaks.
To see more of his work visit www.kylejames.co