PotD (Photo of the Day) – Painting Nature with Light

PotD: 2010.10.13

Date Taken: 2010.07.05

Photo Specs: Nikon D700 + 28-70/2.8 lens @ 50mm, 30 sec, f/8,  ISO 1000, no flash (lighter photo taken @ 28mm, ISO 200)

Why it’s cool & how I got it: OK, so I’m including two pics – the second photo is the one I originally wanted to write about, but that alone doesn’t give you much context of the location since it’s so dark. My buddy Miguel Valenzuela and I were vacationing with our families up at Lake Almanor, CA this summer, and we wanted to get some cool shots of the nearby river (Deer Creek?). So after the sun set, we drove about 20 miles to this location off highway 32, hiked down to the water with our gear, and proceeded to explore the possibilities.

These are both 30 second long exposures using a tripod, of course, which is why the running water looks more like flowing mist. When there’s no wind to blow the other plants around, it makes for a really surreal effect.

By the time we got to the second shot below – it was really dark. Miguel busted out his flashlight, which we used to “paint” the water while the camera shutter was open. It’s definitely a matter of trial and error, but the end result looks like the river is populated by lively streams of bioluminescent organisms. The white balance is also tweaked to taste – I think it works well. Drop a comment below if you’ve got something to say!

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  • October 13, 2010 - 1:21 pm

    Kimberly - My boyfriend is a detective. He learned to “paint” a scene during a forensics photography course. Before that I’d never heard of the technique. I’m looking forward to trying it out myself.

    Gorgeous shots!

  • October 15, 2010 - 7:06 pm

    Kristin - That is so cool Chris – I need to try this 🙂

  • October 19, 2010 - 10:08 am

    Christopher DeLosSantos - I just had to say that is a great shot, and colors are so bright. That pic is cool, I like to see if try take one like your. Dont know if it be as good as your but worth a try.

  • October 19, 2010 - 10:40 am

    Chris Schmauch - It’s fun to try, and if you have a tripod you can at least make sure you get a sharp shot 🙂