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!



Lightpainting Before & After

Hi gang! We just spent a few days in Gainesville, Florida, where lots of vintage trailer owners were converging for the Tin Can Tourists’ Winter Festivus. If you follow this blog regularly, you know that it has been an ongoing project of mine to lightpaint different brands of vintage trailers and motorcoaches. I wanted to share a little before & after with you that shows what the scene looked like with ambient light (before it got really dark out) and the final image.

The subject is a 1956 Airstream Bubble towed by a Chevy Suburban. I captured 102 exposures over the course of 35 minutes using my LED LENSER M7R Flashlight as the only light source. I then used 52 of those exposures to create the final lightpainted image. It took about 3.5 hours of computer work.

If you haven’t tried out light painting yet (it’s a blast once you’re used to it), then be sure to download the free sample PDF on the lower left of this web page… it will give you enough guidance to get you started on your first light painting.

Drag the handle back and forth to see the before & after:


2014_01_16_161404_Tin Can Tourists Festivus_00112014_01_16_165356_Tin Can Tourists Festivus_0112


Teaching classes & taking classes

After teaching at the California Photo Festival (mentioned in my last post), Karen and I flew back to the Philadelphia area. Her family lives nearby in New Jersey and we have been staying with them while the bus gets some maintenance work done in New York. I should really say that Karen has been staying with them, because I have been bouncing all over the place this past week!

It wasn’t two days after we returned from California that I was on another plane, bound for Atlanta. where I presented my 1-day Photoshop Creativity seminar. I was only there for one night, but I was happy to be able to meet up with my great friend and fellow photographer/teacher Eddie Tapp, who lives in Atlanta. That’s one of the great things about traveling so much. I make friends all over the country and always have someone to catch up with when I’m visiting a major city. Because Eddie also travels a lot, I’ve seen him in multiple places all over the country.

After returning to New Jersey, I only spent one night before I was on the move yet again. I headed north to pick up the bus in New York, where I stayed for one night reviewing all of the maintenance projects that were being done on it. I’m also happy to say that, for the first time in years, the bus has a working generator!

My next stop was Lancaster, PA, where I would be taking a private class on lightpainting. That’s right. You read that correctly. I wasn’t teaching the class. I was taking the class. I had come across the work of Harold Ross and was just blown away by his style of lightpainting. When I saw that I would be within a few hours of his PA locale, I was excited to be able to arrange a two-day class/workshop with him. I loved seeing his approach to lightpainting and having the opportunity to learn with him one-on-one. We spent one day where Harold created a lightpainted still life, showing me how he works, and then another day where I created one myself, with his assistance. The image you see here literally took all day to create and is made up of nearly 100 exposures.

So in the course of one week, I went from being the teacher to being the student, and I loved it! In the coming week, Karen and I will begin to head south, as temperatures are dropping and we’d like to be able to photograph some fall color before ending up in warm, sunny Florida. More to come!

Stilllife-LightpaintingThis is the final image that I created during my lightpainting class with Photographer Harold Ross. 


stilllife-detail2Detail images from the lightpainting

Click 2013

Hi everyone! We just wrapped up an excellent week at the California Photo Festival (aka Click!) in San Luis Obispo, CA. This was my second time teaching at this event, and I’d really recommend it to any and all photography lovers out there. Not only are the instructors awesome (and I’m not saying that because I am one… really!), but there is a lot of variety when it comes to classes. There are classes on photography itself, lighting, video, photoshop, etc. and many of the classes are hands-on shooting in the field. There are sunrise and sunset shoots at the vineyards in Paso Robles and on the California Coast. There are loads of after-dark, night photography shoots, and then there are in-studio shoots as well. So at this event, you not only leave with a lot of knowledge, but you also leave with a lot of great images. The festival is run by Victoria and Hal Schmitt of the Light Workshops.

Click2013-175One of Karen’s shots from the horse shoot at the beach.

I taught a bunch of classes over the course of the week, most of which focused on HDR photography and lightpainting. I had in-class lectures as well as live shoots in the field. We did some HDR shooting at the marina in Los Osos and also at a funky place called Sunny Acres, where there are lots of old cars & barns to shoot. For my lightpainting classes, we returned to Sunny Acres after dark and they positioned some of the vintage cars for everyone. We also had an “alternative lightpainting” class where we shot on the beach, creating orbs of light and swinging around molten steel wool to create some nice images. (With the steel wool shoot, I’m the only one handling the steel wool and I’m far enough away from the students that they, and their gear, stay safe.)

Aside from the class/shooting part of the event, I had a blast hanging out with the other instructors, some of which are old friends, and I’m happy to say that others have now become new friends. After the evening shoots, we’ll often meet up for dinner and/or drinks and either catch up or get to know each other. I’ll leave you with a bunch of photos from the event. More to come!

AttackGoose-webHere we are at Sunny Acres where I’m giving a rundown on shooting for HDR. The goose was literally attacking me as I was trying to talk. (It was attacking the other students as well) Eventually, he got put in his “time out” cage. 

SunnyAcres2013-25-EditThis was also shot at Sunny Acres, by Karen, during out lightpainting shoot there. 

MorroRock-SteelWool-3Here, my class gathered at the beach at Morro Bay and I was giving a demo on how to create a lightpainted orb. After it got dark out, we moved onto the beach and started shooting. 

BenSteelWoolOrbThis was one of the shots I created by swinging burning steel wool on the beach. The students loved this!

MorroRock-SteelWool-20Karen’s shot from the steel wool shoot on the beach. That’s me in the middle, swinging the steel wool around.

VineyardWinery-31-EditKaren went to one of the sunrise shoots in Paso Robles and this was one of her shots. 

BenDavidWells-webMe and David Wells, taking a lunch break between classes. 

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. 🙂  (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.