I recently took a trip down to the New Forest for work and I was handed the keys to a brand new BMW 118i to cover the 1000 miles I would be driving during that week. As always when I take a trip like this, I packed the camera in the car in case I got a clear evening or stumbled across a nice location. This time though, I threw a £2 MOT inspection torch in the bag as well.
I ended up spending the first night in my hotel room watching YouTube videos on light painting and picking up some techniques to try. On the second night I took a drive into the middle of the New Forest, grabbed my camera and tripod out the boot and set about working with the cheapest little LED torch I have ever used to see what I could create!
I have only ever done something like this once before, so already had a basic understanding of what I was wanting to achieve. That time though I used a much larger LED light and I had a set of barn doors to control the light, preventing spill. I’d never tried it with something as simple as this light.
I set the camera up, set the shutter to Bulb and grabbed my remote trigger. I ended up shooting at ISO 100 F/6.3 after a few test shots and seeing what worked best. Planning what I needed to make my photo, I ended breaking it down into six shots:
- Floor around the car
- Front end
- Door Shoulder
- Roof Line
I experienced a fair amount of light spill on my first attempt, the torch left a line in the sky, and on my second attempt, I got a horrible amount of light reflection in the door and side of the car:
Eventually, I managed to get the shots I was after. I had to cover the side of the torch with my hand to prevent any light spill, and avoided shining it directly onto the paintwork or glass of the car to stop getting the horrible streaks of light in the air or bodywork. Instead I managed to find a way of illuminating the body lines with it:
I retreated back to the hotel after about half an hour of playing around with the torch, happy with the parts of the images I wanted. After doing some initial post process in Lightroom, I imported the final six photos into Photoshop and like a jigsaw, I started the process of piecing them all together.
The final step was to import the finished image back into Lightroom to add the last few adjustment brushes and touches.
While I know the finished image isn’t perfect, I was happy with the end result. Achieving this with a simple £2 MOT lamp and a few hours in Photoshop and Lightroom. Like the title says, Light painting doesn’t have to be difficult.