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Posts tagged ‘Fuji GX680 camera’

Disused trestle bridge in northern New South Wales, Australia (see story below)

Reconnaissance — it’s such a formal military term. I prefer to use “recce”. Others might say “recon” or “location scout”. Any of these terms are fine. My main point is that a recce, or lack of one, can affect the success of a photo shoot.

I’m a great believer in research – especially for location shooting. For my style of light painting, planning is essential because I shoot only one set-up per night (at dusk). That set-up needs to make the best use of my time, and the location.

So what’s the purpose of recceing a location? My working philosophy is centred on The Principle of the 7 Ps:

Proper, Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance

In terms of light painting photography, this means that the time and effort I put in before the shoot often makes a difference to the way the shoot proceeds.

This post provides behind-the-scenes information about some difficult shoots, and the lessons I learned. I’ve included three examples of shoots that I didn’t fully recce. I’ve also included another shoot that could have failed had I not physically recced the location.

1. Treachery Head, Myall Lakes National Park, NSW, Australia

Years ago I was driving along the coast north of Sydney. I decided to break my journey and stay a night at Pacific Palms. As I had my camera and light painting gear with me, I did a Google Search of natural points of interest around Pacific Palms to see what I could shoot during my one overnight stay. Several images of Treachery Head came up on my computer screen so I did a Google Map search, realised it was an easy 30-minute drive from Pacific Palms and finalised plans to do a light painting of this prominent headland. But I didn’t make time to visit the location before the shoot so I had no idea what to expect.

Light painting of Treachery Head, looking down to the ocean

As I hadn’t physically recced Treachery Head, I made these errors of judgement:

1) Walking the bush track from the carpark through the national park to the headland took longer than I imagined so I arrived at the location close to sunset, which restricted the time I had to find the best position and compose a shot.

2) I struggled to find a strong foreground element to include in my composition.

3) The rocky spurs that descended to the ocean were massive, dark and “unlightable” at dusk.

I proceeded to do some light painting because I was determined to make the best of a poor situation. The final image is adequate but forgettable. Lesson learned – a proper physical recce before the actual shoot would have helped me find a better location.

2. Stationary Steam Engine, Tapin Tops National Park, NSW, Australia

This is another example of an Internet search that I didn’t follow up with a recce. I was returning to Sydney from a trip to the North Coast. I decided to break my journey at Wingham, a small town on the Manning River. I did a Google Image Search of the Wingham area and found an intriguing image of a rusted stationary steam engine in a bushland setting. I was quite excited about the prospect of light painting abandoned machinery in the Australian bush. My Internet research revealed that the engine was located one-hour’s drive northwest of Wingham, in a national park. However when I arrived at the location in the Tapin Tops National Park, one hour before sunset, this depressing sight greeted me. The stationary engine was no longer sitting amongst trees (as shown on the internet) it was surrounded by steel!

Traction Engine -- Tapin Tops NP

Stationary Engine at Tapin Tops — fenced-in and protected

I understood why the National Parks and Wildlife Service had erected a fence to preserve the engine, and other old machinery but the high fence drastically limited my photographic options. I was determined to bring an image back, so I extended my tripod to full height and straddled the obstructing fence. Even with a wide-angle lens I was quite restricted in my framing. Here is the resulting light painting:

Stationary Engine, Tapin Tops National Park

Stationary Engine, Tapin Tops NP

The irony is that the image of the “unfenced” stationary engine – the shot that originally inspired me — still features on the Tapin Tops National Park website (as of April 2018).

3. Paperbark Forest near Bellingen, NSW, Australia

On this occasion I did not appreciate the local circumstances or understand the risks I was taking because I had not done a full recce.

One of my favourite places in New South Wales is the town of Bellingen and the beautiful Bellinger River Valley. Many years ago my wife and I were driving along a backroad not far from Bellingen. The dirt road narrowed to a low causeway and I realised we were driving through swamp country with paperbark (Melaleuca) forest on either side. I glanced out the driver’s window for no more than a few seconds and marvelled at the vista of paperbark trunks reflected in pools of dark water. It was a mental image that would haunt me for years until I resolved to return to light paint this mysterious landscape.

Years later I drove up the Pacific Highway and turned off the highway to revisit this location. I was on a backroad that serviced isolated residential bushland properties. What I didn’t realise was that this road was also used by large timber trucks that ferried logs to a local sawmill.

The road descended to the causeway and I passed through the swampy paperbark forest. The narrowness of the causeway meant there was no place to park so I drove a further 200 metres to find a safe place for my car.

Paperbark causeway near Bellingen

This causeway near Bellingen is barely wide enough for two vehicles to pass

It was approaching sunset and the deep forest was getting dark. I grabbed my camera backpack and tripod and hiked back along the causeway to the best vantage point. The shoulder of this dirt road was quite steep and loose, so positioning the tripod was a challenge – too far one way and I would be up to my knees in swamp water, too far the other way would make me a traffic hazard. I locked down the tripod within a metre of passing cars.  Once the sun had set, I quickly became the next tourist attraction as homebound locals flicked their headlights and slowed down to peer at me, hunched over a camera mounted on a large silver tripod.

As dusk deepened and I rehearsed my light painting sequence, a local man took the time to stop his car next to my tripod legs. He wound down his window and cautioned me about the large timber trucks that use the causeway. As it was getting dark and I was ready to light paint, I asked the man about the likelihood of such a truck appearing that evening. He said I should expect the last truck of the day at any moment. After he drove away the sounds of the bush returned for a few minutes. But the croaking frogs and birdcalls were soon drowned out by the roar of a large diesel truck at the other end of the causeway. Its headlights blinded me as it slowly but relentlessly approached my position. The truck didn’t brake. It just drove through as though it owned the road. I began to panic and stood ready to quickly lift the tripod and camera out of the truck’s path, but the front wheels just missed my tripod leg. The causeway shook with the power and weight of the passing truck. Its load of logs was supported by large, rear wheels that quietly rolled past my precarious camera position. I was thankful to be spared what could easily have been a disaster. The timber trunk disappeared into the night and I set about light painting the scene.

So what’s the lesson here? If I’d spoken to locals as part of my research, would I have avoided setting up on the causeway because of the timber trucks? Perhaps. Did luck and naivety help me achieve this light painting? Definitely!

Swamped

Swamped

4. Railway Trestle Bridge, near Eltham, NSW, Australia

This final example highlights the value of a recce and how being forewarned is forearmed.

When I was visiting my father in northern New South Wales, we went for a drive to recce several abandoned bridges along a disused rail line. We found this wonderful old trestle bridge near the village of Eltham.

Railway Trestle Bridge, Eltham recce

Disused trestle bridge — showing the local access road

The abandoned bridge was well situated for light painting. There was a main road nearby but it ran parallel to the railway so at dusk any passing headlights would not affect my light painting activities.  As I recced the bridge, I realised the best composition would have to include a dirt road that passed under the bridge. This road was used by local farmers who needed access to their properties.

This road posed a particular problem. If any traffic passed under the trestle bridge while I was light painting at dusk, the car lights would appear as coloured trails in the bottom of my frame. Light trails are one thing, but given that any passing locals might be surprised or curious about a lone camera on a tripod and a stranger with a portable light, I anticipated that drivers might stop their cars mid-frame to enquire what’s going on. I knew I wouldn’t have time to explain or chat, and I didn’t want to lose a single exposure to light trails, so I devised a way of limiting any potential loss during the shoot.

The next afternoon when we returned to the bridge to set up for the dusk shot, I gave my father a special task. I armed him with a big black card and positioned him next to the camera. I asked him to be vigilant during my four-minute light painting exposures and if he saw that a car was about to pass in front of the camera, he was to yell “Freeze” to me while I was light painting, and then raise the black card in front of the lens while the car passed by. This would block the lens’ view but not affect the overall exposure in the dusk light.  Once the car had exited the frame, he was to lower the card and yell “Continue” so I could finish my light painting sequence.

Eltham Trestle Bridge

Trestle Bridge near Eltham

Sure enough, during two of the four exposures I made, locals drove home under the bridge and through the shot. My father was an excellent watchman and his use of the black card saved my shots. But the lesson here was that if we hadn’t done a recce, we wouldn’t have anticipated the problem, or planned a solution.

As a light painting photographer, I believe a recce is valuable and worth the time spent. I learn so much about a location and the challenges it presents. And being forewarned is forearmed.

Just remember The Principle of the 7 Ps: Proper, Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance and you can’t go wrong! Well, you can’t go as wrong.

Most of my light paintings are available as limited edition, archival prints (see the menu heading — Prints).  My watermark does not appear on purchased prints.

 

 

 

 

 

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Cliff at Bombo

Basalt Cliff at Bombo NSW

It might look like daylight, but this two-minute exposure of an abandoned quarry on the South Coast of New South Wales was made about 40 minutes after sunset. I light painted the rock-face and foreground grass. Later when I enlarged the film frame, I became fascinated with the feathery look of the distant wave action.

These days, when I mention to people that I shoot on film, I usually get one of two reactions: either people are incredulous that I still use “old” technology; or there’s a vacant look (particularly from people under 25) as they try to fathom how this ancient medium works. Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to turn back time, nor deny the fantastic advantages of digital photography. I enjoy using my DSLR as well as my digital compact. But I am of an age that knows and enjoys both worlds – digital and analogue. And for me, light painting on film is magic. It may be old magic but it’s still magic!

Ancient Pepper Tree

130-Year-Old Pepper Tree at Pokolbin NSW

The Hunter Valley, north of Sydney, is renowned as a historic wine-growing region.  This old tree with its tortured trunk grows beside one of the original family vineyards. Light painted during an eight-minute exposure on 120 Fuji T64.  

Here are the reasons I light paint on film:

1. For me, film is best suited to long exposure photography

My exposures are in minutes, not seconds. It’s not unusual for me to have the shutter open for eight or more minutes while I move around in front of the camera “painting” selectively with my torch (flashlight). This is how I produce my location light paintings, like the series, Landscapes at Dusk.

My difficulty with digital cameras is that long exposures and high ISO produce “noise” (random bright pixels) in the image because of the electronics involved. The longer the exposure and the higher the ISO, the more noise is generated. This is why most digital cameras don’t offer more than 30 seconds as a maximum shutter setting. And often, noise reduction (NR) software is required to reduce the digital noise that a camera generates.

The most effective digital noise reduction occurs in-camera using the manufacturer’s proprietary NR software. However applying NR while shooting in the field effectively doubles the exposure time – so a three-minute exposure becomes six minutes as the software works to cancel out the digital noise.

This significant time delay may not matter if you have all night to shoot, but when I’m light painting at dusk, my ideal working time is the 15-minute period between the sky being too bright and the night sky being too dark to register on my low ISO film. I don’t have time to wait for a digital camera to apply NR. I want to produce three or four time exposures of a scene before the dusk sky fades to black. So I’m chasing the diminishing skylight by increasing my time exposures – something film does very well.

Reaching Over, Angophora, Bouddi NPAngophora – Reaching Over

After I set up this camera angle and waited for dusk to darken, I realised a full moon was rising behind me and illuminating the scene. I decided to limit my time exposures to 60 seconds and light paint quickly so the moonlight didn’t affect the shot.   

2. I shoot film because I love the look of it

There are few things more exciting (or at times terrifying) than spreading a roll of processed 120 size transparencies on a lightbox and seeing your triumphs or your mistakes up close through a viewing loupe. With reversal stock like Fuji Velvia or Fuji T64, there is very little latitude in exposure – your image either looks perfect or depressingly unusable.

When I first began light painting flowers in the late 1990s, I was shooting on 35mm film. Digital photography was in its infancy and at the time few digital cameras could match the quality of 35mm film so I continued working with my Pentax camera and macro lens, trying to perfect my use of the Hosemaster Light Painting System.

StrelitziaStrelitzia

This Bird of Paradise image is a wonderful example of the precise lighting you can achieve with the handheld, fibre-optic light source that is the hallmark of the Hosemaster Light Painting System. Shot on 35mm Fuji Velvia in 1999.

It is amazing to look back and realise that just 20 years ago the best quality photographic images were still being produced on medium and large format transparency film. I remember visiting my mentor, Robert Clark, a professional photographer who was shooting food shots for a popular cookbook series throughout the 1990s. I wanted to see Robert at work in the studio because I was thinking of upgrading from 35mm to medium format. Robert was shooting with a Fujifilm GX680 camera. The 6cm x 8cm format produced images five times the size of a 35mm frame. This outfit looked ideal for my floral portraiture, so I bought a new GX680 with a 125mm lens, a second-hand Gitzo tripod, a professional light meter and my first roll of 120 Fuji Velvia film.

I set the camera up in my “studio” (our garage without the car), borrowed a neighbour’s hanging orchid, switched on the Hosemaster and produced my first floral portrait on 120 film. I was hooked! The quality was astounding. Decades later, I still get excited every time that camera shutter clicks.

 Orchid -- Stanhopea Tigrina

Stanhopea Tigrina

This stunning orchid originates from Mexico. What makes it unusual is the way the flowers come from the bottom of the plant. In this particular case, the flower spike emerged through a hanging basket. Initially it had two capsicum-shaped bulbs that gradually opened out to reveal these amazing flowers. Its strong perfume reminded me of vanilla. This is one of my first images shot on the GX680 in December 1999.  

3. I enjoy the level of technology developed in this camera system

The GX680 is a remarkable camera — a real studio workhorse that produces quality images (6×8 colour transparencies, in my case). This camera system offers 15 superb prime lenses. When one of these lenses is mounted on the camera’s front bellows, there are additional movements available like swing, tilt, shift, rise and fall that increase the apparent depth of an object – an extremely useful facility when shooting close-ups of flowers!

My Fujifilm GX680 Camera with a Fujinon 65mm f.5.6 lens

I use the 65mm for all my landscape shots. The lens itself is an absolute monster, weighing almost 1.2kg. In this photo the lens is not extended, so the bellows are not apparent. The device connected to the camera is a remote release that has been customised — the silver toggle switch was added to change the camera operation from B (Bulb) to T (Time) function. This allows me to make manual time exposures of any duration. 

Although the GX680 is a motor drive SLR camera, its controls are mostly manual. There is no autofocus or true auto-exposure. So time and care need to be taken when setting up and shooting. It’s very hands-on. Each roll of 120 film has to be threaded onto a film cassette. This is inserted into a film holder, which is then attached to the back of the camera. I manually focus the lens, then use a hand-held light meter to calculate the exposure.

Of course, what’s also essential is professional film stock. Fortunately Fuji still manufactures 120 colour transparency films that I love to use. For my studio floral portraits I use Fuji Velvia. The outdoor work like Landscapes at Dusk requires a film matched to my tungsten torch (flashlight), so I use Fuji T64.

Unfortunately Fuji stopped manufacturing T64 some years ago. I still have a few rolls left in my freezer but once that supply runs out I will have to move on to Fuji Provia, with an 80A filter on the lens to balance for my tungsten torchlight.

An Angel VisitsAn Angel Visits (from the series, “Heaven on Earth”)

During a 60-second time exposure, I light painted both sides of these statues in Waverley Cemetery, Sydney. I was so moved by the poignancy of this angelic embrace that I decided to begin a new light painting theme — angel statues. Shot on 120 Fuji T64.

4. I like the enlargements produced from film

For a long time, digital photography could not match the size and quality of a 120-film frame enlarged to its maximum. When one of my 6cm x 8cm frames is scanned at 3200 pixels per inch, a huge 465Mb file is produced. Few digital cameras come close to that file size. And if they do, I can’t afford them.

To date, the biggest enlargements I’ve had printed are 102 cm x 73 cm (or 40 in x 28 in). These archival inkjet prints look fantastic and validate my move to medium format.

Rose - David Austin's Sharifa Asma

Rose – Sharifa Asma

When a friend of mine first saw this image she said to me, “It reminds me of a woman. It’s so sensual.” Certainly I wanted this to be an intimate portrait, but more than that, I wanted the viewer to be enthralled by the translucent beauty of this classic flower by the English Rose breeder, David Austin. Shot on 120 Provia 100F in 2000.

5. I shoot film because I have the time

I don’t have the delivery pressures of most professional photographers. Compared with digital photography, shooting medium format film is a slower process: to set up; to expose; to process; to scan; to post-produce.

My method of light painting is a slower process too, particularly when I’m working outdoors. I arrive at location an hour before sunset. Usually I’ve already recced the area. I scout for the best angle, set up the tripod and lock down the shot. I usually shoot just one set-up per night because I need to wait for the crucial lighting balance between the fading dusk sky in the background and my light painting of the foreground subject.

So there’s lots of waiting, and thinking while I rehearse my lighting sequence. And when I do shoot, the exposures are long – up to ten minutes if I am light painting a large area.

I enjoy shooting on film. It may be old technology. It may even be endangered. But as long as it is available (and there is a lab to process it), I’m happy!

Most of my light paintings are available as limited edition, archival prints (see the menu heading — Prints).  My watermark does not appear on purchased prints.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Richard Walker, Light Painting Photographer, Hosemaster Light Painting, Fujifilm GX680 camera, floral portraits, studio flower photography, fibre-optic hose, fiber-optic hose,

Using the Hosemaster Light Painting System in my Blue Mountains studio — a self-portrait from 2006

In this multiple-exposure image, I am lighting an arrangement of lilies with the Hosemaster’s fibre-optic “hose”. The snaking ribbon of light results from the hand-held fibre-optic hose being moved during a long time exposure. On the tripod is my Fujifilm GX680 medium format film camera. The Hosemaster’s external shutter (explained below) is not positioned in front of the Fujifilm camera because it is being used in front of the 35mm Pentax that recorded this image (yes, it sounds complicated, but read on as I explain how this remarkable lighting device works).

We all experience life-changing moments, and one of mine was purchasing a second-hand Hosemaster Light Painting System in 1999.

That may sound exaggerated but the Hosemaster enabled me to perfect my style of light painting as well as define my work as a photographer. Previously I had been dabbling in light painting using a MagLite flashlight with a homemade foil snoot, but moving up to a Hosemaster enabled me to produce complex, repeatable images with accurate exposures. The Hosemaster opened a whole new world for me and for that I am indebted to Aaron Jones, the American photographer who developed the device in the 1980s. Jones travelled the world in the early 1990s, demonstrating the Hosemaster and convincing pro photographers that $6000 was a reasonable price for this must-have machine. However by the time I bought my Hosemaster second-hand, the device and its useage had fallen out of favour.

What is a Hosemaster?

Essentially, the Hosemaster Light Painting System is a studio-based fibre-optic handheld light source that enables you to precisely accentuate elements within the frame. A key component of the system is an external shutter that allows multiple time exposures on the same film frame.Hosemaster Light Painting System diagram

Diagram of the Hosemaster in action 

 The system comprises three inter-connected components:

  1. A metal casing (on wheels) that houses a 300 watt arc lamp, a cooling fan and electronic controls.
  2. A 4-metre (13-foot) fibre-optic hose that conducts the light from the arc lamp to the subject being photographed.
  3. An external shutter that allows multiple exposures on a single frame of film.

Hosemaster Light Painting System, head and masks

The beam of continuous light from the fibre-optic hose can be modified by various devices, including these masks. The red button switch is pressed to open and close the external shutter positioned in front of the lens.

The action-end of the fibre-optic hose is effectively a small hand-held spotlight. There are clip-on attachments that modify the light output. These include metal masks for shaping the light beam, a broad “paddle” (like a square table tennis bat) for creating softbox effects, a long “wand” (a strip light) for light painting reflective surfaces and small pointed “probes” that produce tiny spotlights.

Hosemaster Light Painting System, external shutter, flower photography

Hosemaster Light Painting System, external shutter,

The external shutter in action (normally this occurs in a darkened studio setting)

In the first image, the camera lens has a clear view of the subject through the open shutter “window”. In the second image, the closing of the shutter window marks the end of one exposure. With the lens view blocked, the lighting can be changed. Then the external shutter is reopened for another exposure.

The crucial component of the Hosemaster is the external shutter. Mounted on a C-stand, this large black metal plate is positioned close to the front element of the camera lens. In the middle of the plate is a 13-centimetre (5-inch) sliding window. When the window is open, the camera lens has an unobstructed view of the subject. When the window is closed, the lens view is blocked. This sliding window is activated electronically by the press of a button switch on the end of the fibre-optic lighting hose. Press the button once and the window slides open, with an audible beep occurring every second. Press this button again, the window closes and the beeping stops. After repositioning the light and checking the exposure, the shutter window can be reopened for the required seconds and then closed again. In this way, a single film frame can be re-exposed many times.

Hosemaster Light Painting System, light painting, studio portraits of flowers, floral portraits

The Hosemaster set up in the studio

Hosemaster control box, light painting

The metal casing contains the arc lamp and the electronic controls. The four-metre fibre-optic hose carries continuous “cold” light to the subject.

Working with the Hosemaster in the studio

For me, the Hosemaster is a dream lighting machine. In the studio, it enables me to produce multiple exposures of the same set-up, without touching the camera. The Hosemaster’s diverse range of light modifiers makes any lighting possible. Aaron Jones originally conceived the Hosemaster as a way of highlighting or emphasising elements within a set-up. He often began a shooting sequence with an underexposed “base exposure” using a strobe, then re-exposed the same film frame multiple times using the Hosemaster to light paint the detail and texture of selected objects within the shot. Jones also added a special diffusion filter to the external shutter that allowed him to “blur” the light. This produced his signature lighting style that is evident in his “Still Portfolio” gallery at http://aaronjonesphoto.com/   My lighting style is very different to that of Aaron Jones. I don’t use strobe lighting at all. I rely on the continuous light from the Hosemaster for all my lighting effects. It enables me to create an image with multiple light sources, as broad or as focussed as I choose.

How the Hosemaster and camera work together

In the studio, after I have composed my subject (for example, flowers) in front of the camera, I use a large C-Stand to suspend the external shutter close to the front element of the lens. With the external shutter’s “window” open, I check that the camera has a clear view of the subject. Then I close this window so the lens view is blocked. The Hosemaster lamp is turned on, the house lights switched off, and the film camera’s shutter is locked open using the “B” setting. I don’t touch the camera again until I’ve finished the entire lighting sequence.

At this time no exposure is effectively occurring because the lens is pointed at the black surface of the external shutter window and there is no other light in the studio except that coming from the end of the fibre-optic hose. The film in the camera is unaffected until I choose to press the button switch at the end of the hose, and the shutter window slides open to reveal the subject lit by light from the fibre-optic hose. I usually expose the background first. This long exposure silhouettes everything in the foreground (in my case, the flowers). When that exposure is finished, I press the button on the end of the hose and the external shutter window closes. With the lens view blocked, I reposition the hose light and prepare to individually spotlight each of the flowers.

Studio Light Painting Sequence

light painting sequence, Hosemaster Light Painting System, silhouette, everlasting daisies,

First, the background is exposed

light painting sequence, Hosemaster Light Painting System, silhouette, spotlighting, everlasting daisies,

Then each flower is lit and exposed separately

light painting sequence, Hosemaster Light Painting System, silhouette, everlasting daisies, spotlighting, floral portrait,

This final image is the result of three separate exposures on a single frame of film

The advantage of handholding the hose is that I can precisely position the light at any angle. The Hosemaster gives me the freedom to light each flower differently. It is important to keep in mind that the light output of the Hosemaster is balanced for daylight film so I shoot a low ISO transparency film like Fuji Velvia. I use a light meter to take incident light readings of the hose light in each new position. Because I expose at f.16, my meter readings are between ten seconds and two minutes, depending how close I hold the fibre-optic hose to the subject.

When I push the red button switch on the end of the hose, the shutter window slides open, signalling the beginning of an exposure. The device now beeps at one-second intervals. I count the necessary seconds then press the switch again so the shutter window closes. That’s one exposure. I move my light to a new position, take a new meter reading (if necessary) and open the external shutter to make a second exposure. I continue to make multiple exposures on that single film frame until my lighting is complete.

All my floral portraits involve multiple exposures.  Here are three examples:

Hosemaster Light Painting System, light painting, Richard Walker, dahlia, silhouette, studio lighting, multiple exposure,

Frederica’s Dahlias

I lit this portrait with three separate exposures – the background, then a spotlight on each flower

Hosemaster Light Painting System, light painting, Richard Walker, canterbury bells, campanula medium, flora portrait, art nouveau lamp, studio lighting, silhouette,

Canterbury Bells (Campanula Medium)

I wanted this floral portrait to look as though each flower was lit from inside – like an art nouveau table lamp. I used a small probe attachment on the end of the fibre-optic hose and aimed the light inside each flower, being careful not to overexpose the foreground stamens. This image has eight separate exposures: the background; soft fill on the entire arrangement; and individual spots for the interior of each bloom.  

Hosemaster Light Painting System, light painting, oncidium orchid, Richard Walker, multiple exposures

Oncidium Orchid — my most complex studio light painting

There are nine separate exposures in this orchid portrait: one for the background; the seven blooms were individually exposed; and finally the arrangement was lit from underneath to highlight the edges of the petalsDuring this precise work the flowers cannot move a millimetre, otherwise there will be a slight shift in the flowers’ positions in the next exposure.  The shift is obvious in the final image, appearing as a drop shadow around the edge of the flowers.

For years I have used this image — displayed as a framed 102 cm x 73 cm (40 in x 29 in) print — to draw people to my exhibitions. I call it my “people magnet” because the intense yellow and blue contrast seems to attract immediate attention.

Most of my light paintings are available as limited edition, archival prints (see the menu heading — Prints).  My watermark does not appear on purchased prints.   

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