Light-Writing

If it’s light, you can write with it – hence “light writing”.  Or light painting….since I really did not write anything here.  It has been a while since I have done this and I’m a bit out of practice.  I have been motivated by the snow and by driven new photographer to practice again (thanks Brandon D.)  Tonight was about testing settings on a new camera to see what I get….

Materials needed:

Camera – (with a Manual, Bulb or time lapse function)
Tripod
Whisk (with a loop at the end to tie twine/heavy string to.  String should be a few feet in length)
Steel wool – (0, 00, 000 or 0000 grades).  Think the coarser the wool, the bigger the streams, finer the wool the smaller the streams.
Lighter – multi-purpose are the easiest for this, don’t rely on matches.  If you have a torch, even better….many evenings are windy and you’ll need a dependable fire source.
Remote Trigger – this is ideal – a wireless one is even better.  But a 2 or 10 second timer is okay if your quick and prepared beforehand.

Essentially, you get the camera set up on tripod.  Use “Mirror lock” if available.  Set the focus in manual so it doesn’t shift on you.  A few test shots to get depth of field, aperture and white balance.  (Shoot in RAW if available).

Load the whisk with steel wool that has been evenly pulled apart.  Typically, two pads will get sufficient results.  Get into position, fire the camera for at least 30 seconds and light the wool and start spinning.  Then ambers will fly and the camera’s sensor will capture it all.  WEAR OLD CLOTHES!!! or you’ll find some burn holes in clothes you may not want.  Always where a hat and goggles.

When the wool burns out, stop the camera.  Check your results!  Use the zoom feature on the playback to ensure that your results are sharp.  Rinse and Repeat!!!

Typical Camera Settings:

Aperture: 5.6 – 9
Focal Range: varies, I play between 16 – 35mm
Shutter Speed: 30 seconds – 1 minute
ISO: depends on scene, but I like 50 or 100….always different…go as high as needed to get the results you want.

Point is, you have to practice with YOUR camera.  My gear is not your gear and your’s acts differently than mine.

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