Sculpture By The Sea…By Night

9 11 2009

Well this is the second year that I have stayed away from Sculpture By the Sea during pre-dawn or daylight hours…. It’s like Pitt Street for Photographers… has been for a few years now.

But at night…  all the people go except for the occasional couple that stroll by with torches.  You have plenty of space and time to just experiment and play.

Here’s a couple of shots from this years exhibition.

Blue Face at night

This was probably my favorite shot from the two nights that I went out shooting.  Funnily enough it was the last shot of the night.  I’d seen this face when I was browsing through some of the other photos of the exhibition, and while none of the other images of the sculpture grabbed me, the face itself did.  I figured it would have possibilities before I even saw it, so it was on my “must shoot” list for the night.  It really helps to do your research, otherwise I could have easily missed it.  As it was I had to ask the security guards where to find this sculpture.

OK, a bit of info on how I made this shot.  The first thing is that I am previsualising my light paintings much better these days.  When I looked at the sculpture here’s what I was thinking….

  • Cool face…  I could some cool things with highlights and shadows on the face
  • Love the horizon and water in the background
  • The bushes create a nice transition against the sea… want to emphasize them
  • The stars and the clouds are very cool… I want to get lots of stars and no star trails and try to get some of the little puffs of clouds to blur in the sky.
  • I liked the way the sculpture cut above the horizon and kind of made a nice transition between the land and the heavens… I wanted to emphasise this as well.
  • As I was looking at this I thought it would look cool if the face was kind of emerging out of a blue-light fog.

So that was what was going on in my head… so here’s how I set about executing it.

Screen shot 2009-11-09 at 10.11.35 PM

(You might want to click on the image above to see it full size)

I started off with my heaven shot… my background.  Set my camera to ISO3200 and shot 30sec @ f5.6  This gives me heaps of bright stars due to the high ISO and no star trails due to the 30sec exposure (lucky I’m shooting with a Nikon)… Canon would probably give me a shit-load of noise…. OK… couldn’t resist that jibe… seriously though, the D700 is awesome at this high an ISO.

Then I started my first white light run on the face with the fluoro light.  Aftger that I saw clouds coming over, so I redid my heaven shot.  The the next two images were more light painting on the face from different angles.  Once I felt I had the face captured from the right angles, I light painted the bushes in the background.  I then did two frames of the face in blue light (using cold cathodes).  This was to give me some blue light on the face from the blue fog.  I then thought that perhaps I might light up the face red to see what it looked like in contrasting colours emerging from the blue fog…. however when I previewed it in Photoshop I didn’t really like it, so I didn’t use the red images.

The final image is of the blue “fog” that I created with Electro-luminesent wire.  This stuff is wicked.  It creates cool water/fog effects.

Then I just started working the blending in Photoshop. The trickiest part was making an accurate mask around the sculpture that was sticking up in the sky.  I used a contrast mask for that (see my cool shit tutorial series for video on how to do that).

Here’s a couple of my other shots from Sculpture By the Sea.

horse sculpture

I loved the look of this horse from the moment I saw it.  It had “light painting” written all over it.  I loved the way it overlooked the water.  I used contrasting colours to really try to highlight the insides of the horse.

This last shot was from my first night’s shoot.  I just wanted to do something a bit abstract and different with it, so I threw the sky into almost total blackness and focused on abstracting the sculpture and the surroundings.

Sculpture by sea 1

For those that want to learn this type of photography see my Light Painting Workshop Page.  Still a few spots left for the Nov 09 workshop.




13 responses

10 11 2009
Graham Leggate

Jaw dropping fantastic! It’s quite hard to pic a favourite, they all look quite difficult to capture. Excellent job.

10 11 2009
Flemming Bo Jensen

I am stunned mate, that is simply unbelievably good work. Wauv. Love the first one, true painting with light art. Looking at the 12 images you worked from and then the final result is incredible.

10 11 2009
Rob van Elven

Beautiful! Your light painting is a perfect match with these sculptures.

10 11 2009
Ilya Genkin

That’s simply amazing, mate!

10 11 2009

Beautiful job Brent… just love that horse shot with what you have luminated. Looks like a truck load of fun to shoot and put together.

10 11 2009

You are indeed the Night Master Brent!

Exceptional is the word that comes to mind!


True North Mark

11 11 2009

Once again just brilliant Brent.

11 11 2009

Insanely good series of images brent. I love the horse one, as it is looking out to see and the blue parts make it feel like its alive for some reason.

The head one is just amazing in what you have done to achieve this image. Now if the face was looking out to sea and heavens this would of been my favorite. I think the artist positioned it wrong.

All 3 really great stuff. you sure have got this night stuff down pat, well done …

12 11 2009

Great work… simply amazing stuff. I tried some light painting in the past and realised how difficult it was… so hats off to you mate. Truly amazing stuff. You may have gotten even better results from a Canon 🙂 hahhaha had to throw that in since you took a jibe at Canon users 😛

14 11 2009

Nicely done, Brent. I really like this post. Lots of information, thanks for sharing your stuff with the world so selflessly.

15 11 2009

That is insane, especially the first one. Amazing!

9 12 2009

Great PPP (plan and post-processing). Luckily you got the Nikon D700, should be even better if you used D3. Honestly with other bodies from Nikon you’d probably gain no advantage than any Canon DSLRs. That’s why real landscape shooters only shoot 5Ds in the past years 😀 Can’t resist either. Check this out:
Kauai Maelstrom

25 02 2010

Aside from how amazing the final images look, it must just be so fun being out there with noone around and playing with heaps of different lights and effects and seeing what you have at the end of it!.
Capturing the images must be the funnest part!
cant wait to give it a crack!

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