Another Lightpainting Before & After

It seems like everyone really liked my last post where I showed the before and after images from one of my recent lightpaintings, so I thought I’d post another one. A few months ago, I took a private workshop with photographer Harold Ross. Harold has a lightpainting style that I really loved, so I spent two days with him learning how he works his magic. At the end, I came away with not only a slew of new knowledge and techniques but a completed image as well. Harold actually showed my image in a recent blog post that features his students’s work and you can see that HERE.

Below, drag the handle back and forth to see what the scene looked like with ambient light (before) and then the final processed image.

As I’ve mentioned before, if you want to give lightpainting a try for yourself, you can download a free pdf, which is an excerpt from my e-book, that includes everything you need to get the ball rolling. Enjoy!



Grand Teton: Another National Park!

That’s right, folks. This is our third national park in as many weeks! After being parked near the north entrance to Yellowstone for over a week, we moved south to Grand Teton National Park, which is actually very close to Yellowstone. We stayed at an RV park right outside the east entrance and went exploring from there.

As far as photographing Grand Teton goes, this is a sunrise locale. Period. The mountain range runs north to south with the whole park (valley) on the east side of it, so if you want to photograph nice, soft light on those pointy peaks, you’ve got to be up before the sun. Karen and I are night owls, so waking up for those sunrise shoots can be rough, but we do it anyway, and it’s always worth it.

Our first morning shoot was at Oxbow Bend, which features a still body of water winding toward the mountain range. There is a parking lot there but we climbed down to get vantage points along the water. What’s funny is that there was a group of photographers already there, and when we saw the cars, we thought we might be jockeying for tripod positions. We were wrong, though. These guys were all lined up along the edge of the parking lot, all shooting from one place. And as the sun rose, they didn’t move around one bit. Karen and I chuckled at this, but in reality, we were glad that we had complete access to the entire bank, and we moved around quite a bit. At one point, one of the parking lot warriors yelled out for me to move so he wouldn’t have to Photoshop me. đŸ™‚  (If you happen to be one of those shooters, check out the “Workshops” page of this site and I’ll teach you how to Photoshop me out of your frame.)

BenTetonPanpA DSLR panorama from Oxbow bend.

During the daytime, we basically scouted out places to shoot at sunrise or at night for a lightpainting shoot. We visited a grouping of old barns and buildings called Mormon Row, where there is a beautiful old barn I wanted to shoot. We actually visited that barn twice after dark so that I could lightpaint it. We also went there for our second sunrise shoot. As soon as the sun starts to come over the mountains, it kisses the barn and the light is just beautiful. There was also a group of shooters there, and they were a fun bunch. We enjoyed chatting while waiting for the light.

GrandTetonNP-211It looks like I posed for this but I really didn’t. I was trying to figure out how to best frame the barn for my late-night lightpainting.

1146849_10153547656620355_1640868024_oThis was my first lightpaint of the barn. Unfortunately, the camera moved a tiny amount on this one so it’s not as crisp as it should be. That’s why I went back to lightpaint it for a second time. 

BeniPhonePano-BarnAn iPhone pano of the sunrise shoot at the barn.

Another sunrise shoot was at Schwabacher Landing, which is a beautiful view with still water and wildflowers in the foreground with the mountain range in the background. Because Schwabacher Road was closed, we had to park on the main road and hike it down to the trail. While this forced us to get up earlier, we were glad that no other photographers decided to do the pre-sunrise hike, as we had the whole area to ourselves.

As far as sunsets go here, we found that the best way to make a successful image is to shoot when there’s a dramatic sky, with interesting clouds. There are several overlooks that can be good sunset locations when the conditions are good, and we stopped at Teton Point one night that there were actually clouds. (We had clear skies for most of our stay.)

1084964_10153548770530355_1765059929_oSunset at Teton Point

As you can probably tell from the images here, I’ve been doing a lot of iPhoneography lately, and posting at least an image a day on Facebook. I love the app-based editing process and how easy it is to create nice effects. There aren’t more DSLR shots on here because I haven’t been able to process many this week. Since we’ve been up for sunrise and out lightpainting until late at night, I just haven’t had the energy yet!

This week, we will be heading east through Wyoming and into South Dakota. Our next major stop will be Badlands National Park, with a visit to Mount Rushmore as well. It’s also a complete coincidence that we’ll be passing through Sturgis, South Dakota during the annual motorcycle rally, so that should be pretty crazy! More to come!

561480_10153550082465355_2134094084_nAn iPhone shot from Schwabacher Landing at sunrise. 

Lightpainting & Vintage Things

Two of my favorite topics! This week, I combined the two by lightpainting a vintage truck I had visited a few weeks ago. This truck is located at the Antique Powerland Museum in Salem, Oregon. The museum is full of vintage semis and other vehicles, and back when Karen and I got a tour, I spoke with our guide about returning one night to lightpaint my favorite vehicle. After seeing my work, the guide agreed to meet me after dark one night.

The vehicle is a 1938 Ford COE (cab-over-engine) that has a whopping 85 horsepower (my vintage bus has more like 400 for comparison). It was the first Ford truck to use the COE design. I just love the art deco/streamline moderne design of trucks of that vintage.

If you’re a photographer or photo enthusiast, know that there are only three things preventing you from making an image like this one: 1) time, 2) patience, 3) technical knowledge. I can only help you with #3. If you want to get started painting with light, check out my e-book on the subject. You can even download a free starter/sample pdf to get you started.

Truck-LightpaintThis is one of my mega light paintings… I shot no fewer than 120 exposures! But some of those where as short as one second long just to light the hood ornament for example. When it’s a big and complex object like this one, I tend to be excessive with the number of exposures I capture… if I miss something, it’s going to be just a black hole… so I better light be sure to light everything… and often from more then one angle. My main complaint about this image is the lack of shape in the near front fender. The far front fender is lit from light reflecting off the white wall next to the truck. If I were to do it again, I would have lit the ceiling to get some light to reflect into the near front fender.


While I was in the Salem area, I toured Gordon house, which is one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s usonian homes. I’ve always been a Frank Lloyd Wright fan, and whenever I’m near one of his buildings, I try to pay a visit.

Outside of lightpainting, I spent a good part of the week between Portland and Eugene, Oregon. My vintage bus is located in Eugene and the progress on the interior has been really consistent. Up until now, the interior of the bus has been a “mockup,” meaning a temporary interior that we would constantly tweak until we liked how everything was set up. Well, we finally got everything how we wanted it, so the mockup was pulled out, and progress has begun with the true materials. The guys started building our cabinets, and we completed the plans for the entryway design. If you’d like to follow the progress of the bus, I post everything on the Creative Cruiser’s Facebook Page.

BusBlueprint The constantly-changing blueprint for my vintage bus.

This coming week, I’m heading to Seattle to teach the next segment in my Photoshop Mastery series on creativeLIVE. This class is on retouching and collage, and it’s free to watch while it’s live! Of course, if you like what you see, you can purchase the class for a discounted rate while it’s live. The class is Monday and Tuesday, 9 am – 4 pm PST. Check it out HERE.


More to come!