Painting With Light

Using a red LED, I painted this arch to achieve better detail against the night sky. An exposure of about 15 seconds, ISO 800, at f/1.4 was used. The camera was a Canon EOS 5D Mark II, and EF 24mm f/1.4L II lens.

A couple of weeks ago I was in Las Vegas on business and wanted to shoot a little. My days were all tied up so my options were limited.  I’d done the whole neon lights on the strip thing, the fountains at Bellagio, etc. Some friends had plans to go to the desert and paint with light.  I’d seen their results before, and figured it was as good an option as any. We loaded up into a couple of cars and off we went.

So we headed out to the desert after sunset and prepared to paint with light, armed with LED lights, steel wool, and some string.

We ventured about 50 miles east of Las Vegas into the desert, and found some rock formations.  Now, on a moonlit night, it would have been perfect for night landscape photography.  The stars were brilliant.  But with little ambient light, we had to create our own.  LED lights from headlamps and keyrings provided the perfect way to “paint” the rock formations, and using long exposures gave us the chance to build up the star exposure.  I won’t explain exactly what we did with the steel

Steel wool was used to help create the cascading light effect on this rock formation.

wool, but you can see the effect as steaks of light cascading down the rocks.

Again, steel wool was used here to create the light effect at the center of the arch. Red LED's were used to paint the arch's face.

I used a Canon EOS 5D

Mark II, EF 24mm f/1.4L II. For the shot of the Arch in red, with no light streaks, ISO was 800, f/1.4, 15 second shutter speed.   For the shots of streaking light, ISO was 320, f/8, exposure was about 3 minutes.

If you would like to purchase any of my images, you can visit this page of landscape photos.


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