Saturday, May 15, 2010

Spilling the Beans - the Commercial Application of Lightpainting

Ok a lot of people have written me asking how these shots were done, and since there really are no secrets any more, only creativity, I'm gonna tell you. Interested? Keep reading.
These were shot with a flashlight. That's right, a humble flashlight was the only lightsource.
Lightpainting gets used a lot for fun. You see it all over, long exposures with people experimenting with different flashlights and LEDs writing funky little messages into the picture. "Hi Mom", whatever, It's cool.
This print campaign I shot last year used the same technique, only in reverse. I shone the light onto the product and the reflection beamed back through the lens and burned the image.
Here's why; We had a problem, how do you evenly light a highly reflective product that ranges from a few feet to up to 6 meters in length? Solution: paint the inside of a hanger black, walls, floors, everything. Block all the ambient light from the roof etc, and using up to 4 minute exposures "paint" the product with a flashlight using long even strokes.  Over a day and a half we shot in the dark and the result is what you see pictured.
The equipment/staff list for this shoot is pretty unique:
  • One factory/hangar 
  • A crapload of black paint
  • A way to get black paint on walls and floors quickly
  • A forklift
  • 3 product specialists to set up/take down the product
  • 1 assistant cataloging the products we were shooting
  • A flashlight
  • Canon 1DsMkIII
  • Canon 17 - 40 F4L