This is the story of how I fell in love with LightPainting Photography.
Running with Fire – 2010
In 2010 my nephew Moritz from Germany stayed with us for several months here in Sydney. One day he introduced me to a new friend he made over here Tobias “Toby” Huehnlich, who is a very talented Fire Twirler. At the time I was experimenting a little bit with Lightpainting techniques using LED’s and flashlights , but I always thought that it was just a bit gimmicky.
When Toby gave us a Twirling Demo at our home I immediately thought that this was just too good an opportunity to pass up on and that we had to do some long Exposure Photography with him twirling his Poi and Fire Staff.
Garie Twirl 1 – 2010
We decided to go down to Garie Beach in the Royal National Park just south of Sydney the next morning to give it a go.
We arrived a good hour before sunrise and basically started setting up shots straight away. I set up Nikon D700 with the 17-35mm F2.8 Zoom. Most of the images were shot with the following settings ISO100 / f9 / 30s . I didn’t have a cable release or remote at the time, but managed to avoid any camera shake by carefully squeezing the shutter every time.
Toby was great to work with and really nailed the directions I gave him. It helps working with someone that understands composition when shooting photos like “Running with Fire.
In a lot of the shots I tried to get as much out of the reflection of the fire on the sand and the water as possible.
Three of the biggest take-aways from this shoot that really shaped my photography career were, firstly that I realised the limitless potential of Light Painting Photography, It is like adding a whole new layer to photography.
And the second take-away was that I knew that LightPainting works a really well when shooting at a location and having an interesting backdrop, as well as being able to see reflections and spill of the light. It really puts the Light-Art into the context of the scene and adds more depth to the picture.
Lastly you have to have an open mind and play around when you create your images.
- Use different movements and angle the light sources differently toward the camera
- there are thousands of different light-sources you can use (LED Keychain Lights, Pixelstick, Torches, Flashlights, Sparklers, Steelwool, Carlights, etc.)
- try different times at night. Is it a New Moon Dawn, Dusk, Full Moon. A bright full moon can add a lot of beautiful ambient light to your scene.
I really hope that I could at least inspire you a little bit to go out there and take some photos, because that is where your true inspiration comes from, when you find something that you can get passionate about.
I will never forget the day, as this was the day I fell in love with Light Painting, It did enough to inspire me for years to come and I consider myself very lucky to have been able to create a business around this craft.
Alexander Kesselaar is a Photographer and LightPainting Artist from Sydney Australia. Alex founded LightPaintLab in 2014 and has Painted with Light for companies such as Northline, Accenture, Bacardi, Tiger Beer, Telstra, Destination NSW and more.