The Making Of Nightmare (part 1 of 2)

21 11 2009

It’s been a while since I have posted a video, so I thought I would give you a double-header.  This is the first of two videos that show how I made an image called Nightmare.  This video is part 1 which takes you behind the scenes when we did the shoot.  It was a lot of fun, there was a group of about 8 of us and I think everyone really enjoyed the location and the shoot.  When you are shooting with a good group it really makes photography fun.  We were also lucky enough to have a gorgeous and talented model (thank you Mandy) who modeled for us.

This shot is something different for me in a few different ways.

  1. It combines off-camera flash with light painting.  I don’t normally do much off-camera flash, but I’m keen to start doing more after Oat and Nelson’s wonderful off-camera flash workshop.
  2. It is a shot of a person… I normally have a bit of a mantra of not shooting anything that talks or shits.  Hence the fascination with seascapes, landscapes and urban shots.  In this case I do feature the beautiful Mandy.
  3. This shot was totally pre-visualised for about 3 months, and I have set out to create it.  I planned everything about the shot from the pools of light to the type of clothes that Mandy had on.  I wanted to see if I had the technique to accurately re-create my vision…. and I have to say I was very happy with the results.

What is this shot about?

Nightmare is about a chick who has been out for a wild night of partying finding herself in the wee hours of the morning in one god-awful freaky place.  Her clothes are in disarray, her makup is smudged over face and I wanted to create a response in the viewer of “what the hell happened to her…. what is she doing in this freaky place”?

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the video…. I will try to post part II tomorrow which will show the post processing including some pretty cool techniques.

This video was produced in High Definition, so I’m not going to embed it inline with the blog but send you over to Vimeo where you can enjoy it in all it’s HD splendor.


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.


Announcing the Light Painting Workshop

20 10 2009

Hi folks

I’m very excited to announce the first light painting workshop.  I’ve had quite a few people request this workshop and I’ve spent several months designing the content and thinking through how it will run in order for it to be:

  1. Very informative in terms of theory, capture, equipment and post processing
  2. Very creative in terms of  locations and lights
  3. Very collaborative in the way it is structured
  4. Quite social (by combining dinner, a few beverages etc.)
  5. A heck of a lot of fun!!!

The spaces will be strictly limited, so put your name down early in order to ensure a spot (I’ve already had people reserve spots before I announced the workshop).

For all the information and details, click here to visit the Light Painting Workshop information page


Urban Light Painting Fun

11 10 2009

Spider on the track

Well last night Gavin (aka Tripod) and I joined the Cave Clan for a really enjoyable evening of photography in strange locations.  Unfortunately due to the rain we had to abort shooting in the old drain, however we then went and photographed in an old train tunnel which was a lot of fun.  It is simply wonderful getting creative with this lot.  This shot is a picture of Spider standing on the rail lines.  Don’t worry, this a rarely used spur of the rail line where they park trains during the day, so there wasn’t much chance of a train interrupting our fun.  There is so much creativity that you can bring to this type of photography regarding light sources that it is so much fun when you go out as a group to do this type of photography.  Everbody brings the most bizzare “light sources” and it’s fun mixing them together to create some funky compositions.

In my backpack I had my trusty 12 volt alarm battery, 240volt inverter, high powered fluoro light, cold cathode lights, electro luminesent wire, multicoloured LED torches, steel wool, LED light nets, and more!!!!

blue silouette

After the train tunnel we went out to Middle Head fort for a really fun evening of light painting in the abandoned structure.  I could spend weeks photographing here.  This is going to be the location for my forthcoming night photography workshop.  I’m just finalising some of the logistical / bureaucratic details.  Stay tuned.


Preparing for Some Subterranean Shoots

28 09 2009

Graffiti Hands

My recent trip through an abandoned building with the Melbourne City Drain Painters has got me excited about some of the more creative light painting techniques that they employ.  These folks really experiment with alternate light sources and literally create light paintings in underground drains and abandoned buildings.   When I first saw their work I admired their creativity but noticed that sometimes they put too much emphasis on the light and not enough on the environmental lighting etc.

I am going to start shooting some more underground photography where I can blend my landscape light painting techniques with some of their funky lighting effex.  I’ve been accumulating some funky lights and wiring them up at home ready.  My next trip is with the Sydney Cave Clan in about 2 weeks.  We are going to hit an old sewer drain which should be fun.    Looking forward to my next overnight trip to Melbourne again so I can do another shoot with the MCDP crew.


Light Painting – Drain Painter Style

2 09 2009

Light Painting Fun

Last night I met up with a couple of guys from the Melbourne Drain Painters Group on Flickr Octopus777fish and Man Underground.   Nice guys who are really doing some fun interesting stuff with experimental light painting.  They enjoy urban exploration and doing their thing in drains and abandoned buildings.  It was an interesting night. They taught me a lot about some of the experimental light rigs they have built, and hopefully I taught them a few things about environmental light painting and technique.

I’ve got a few more images that I’ll process up over the weekend, this was just a quickie that I knocked up last night when I got back home.   It was a really enjoyable night… Thanks guys.


Combining Business With Pleasure – A Night Shoot in Melbourne

1 09 2009
The End of the Road By Hallosin8

The End of the Road by Hallucin8

I’m at Sydney airport about to hop on a flight to Melbourne for a couple of days.  I’m looking forward to it because I’m going to be combining 2 days of business with a bit of pleasure.  I’m hooking up with a few folks from a very interesting Flickr Group called Melbourne City Drain Painters.  They do some way cool light painting in drains, abandoned buildings etc.   I’m heading out a with a few of the team tonight, so I’ve packed my camera gear and light painting stuff and plan to rendezvous at an old abandoned building later tonight.

I’m looking forward to creating some art with these guys and gals and blending some styles.  It’s wonderful when you can combine business trips with a bit of fun…. the power of Flickr and communities eh?  I’m hoping to take a few “behind-the-scene shots” of our little outing tonight (assuming the guys are OK with it).

Spirograph Octopus By Octopus777fish

Spirograph Octopus By Octopus777fish

I’ll update you with how this little expedition goes in the next couple of days.