Light-Painting Plants I

Green Orchid

Green Orchid

I’ve enjoyed light-painting for many years. Often use flash, but a constant source like a flashlight offers so much more control and results that are difficult to match with flash. The challenge with a flashlight is the need for the ambient light level to be low enough to allow the shutter to be open for at least 4 seconds, thus eliminating shooting during daylight hours. That is, however, until a friend suggested using ND filters in combination with my amazingly powerful TM26 flashlight by Nitecore. I use this little monster, about the size of a soda can, to do most of my light-painting and it can easily light a barn. So, here’s the equation. A light that puts out 3800 lumens, translated … really, really bright, in combination with a 6 to 10 stop ND filter, and keep the light about a foot away from the subject. At 100 ISO and an aperture of f/8 or f/11 you can get about a 10 to 20 second exposure. Lighting challenges solved.

Now, how to get flowers to remain still for 10 to 20 seconds. The answer to that is the Longwood Gardens Conservatory. It’s basically a giant greenhouse and on a cloudy day the quality of light is gorgeous. If you stay away from drafts from the ventilation system you’re home free.

If you try this be prepared to get a lot of strange looks from visitors and a few questions. My favorite, which I got more than once … “Lookin’ for bugs”?

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