Shooting Long Exposure and Nightscape Photography
Night and long exposure photography are my absolute favorite types of photos to shoot. What is visible during the day is completely irrelevant and opens a new world of possibilities to shoot. In Victor, Idaho I had the opportunity to do several different types of long exposure photography, including light painting, shooting with orbs, and astrophotography. I had a blast shooting long exposure photography, so I hope you enjoy!
After dusk I started with a chiaroscuro light painting of our model Lexi and a cool little cabin down the road. I set up my camera on my trusty Manfrotto tripod with a 14mm f2.8 lens on hand. I set my exposure for 10 seconds and had two to three people light painting the scene. The purpose was to create contrast between the shadows and the highlights, so there are certain parts that were light painted more than others–giving more of a focal point to whatever was exposed more. Here’s my final image of my light painted long exposure! Dave Black is a master of light painting. Check out his work here!
In this photo we had some fun creating light trails with a flashlight with cellophane. I set up my tripod and set a 10 second timer so we all could get into our positions. Each of us struck a pose and held it for around 20 seconds. Behind us, Garrett started light sketching with the the flashlights during the exposure. In post I raised the black point to get a better view of the group, and with the color picker in the Hue/Saturation Adjustment panel I adjusted one of the light trails to be purple and the other to be green.
My next stop was to do some astrophotography and light painting. These are my favorite and I’m always looking for an opportunity to shoot the stars. For this long exposure photo I had to stay up all night for the right timing. It was a nearly full moon that night and wouldn’t set until the early morning hours, but I still wanted to try to get part of the milky way as well as light paint the scene. Zhiyang decided to come out with me at 4am and try to get some astrophotography in before blue hour that would be coming an hour later! We then set up down the road at the entrance of Sky Mountain Lodge in Victor, Idaho. In camera I changed my exposure to 20 seconds with a relatively high ISO. Because of the light coming from the full moon, I didn’t have to turn my ISO as high as I typically would with a new moon astrophoto. During the exposure I used a halogen spotlight to light paint the road, log entrance and tree (camera right). The trick to getting some awesome nightscapes is to light paint certain areas in your camera view. Even though I could’ve light painted the entire scene, I felt that the trees left of the entrance weren’t as important to showing the scene and would be a nice contrast to the well lit road and entrance. After several tries I finally got my final photo.
At my next station of the night I did some long exposure photography of orbs. To get this effect we had a bike tire rigged with lights. During the exposure we had Ben spinning the bike tire to create this orb effect. I had a cool idea where I would photography four orbs with Ben in the middle of the barn. The final product is a combination of five exposures where I masked them together to create this long exposure idea. For some cool light orb photography and to purchase orbs online check out Denis Smith’s website.
And one of the final images I took of the night has become one of my favorite long exposure photographs I’ve ever taken. With my camera I set up an exposure to go off every five seconds–with a total of 70 raw images taken. In post I imported my images into Lightroom, choose to edit the exposures as layers in photoshop, and used a blending mode of ‘Lighten’ to create this star trail effect. Special thanks to Garrett for showing me this new technique. This has definitely become a favorite of mine!