Featured Photo – Haunted Bathtub: Light Painting in the Desert

What Is Light Painting?  It’s a photographic technique in which photos are made by moving a hand-held light source around (or by moving the camera) to create an exposure. Today, I’m illustrating a technique in which I am using colored filters to create different colors through light.

Haunted outdoor bathtub underneath the desert stars, all illuminated by shining a light source on the structure and bathtub.

Here, the shutter of my camera remained open for a little over four minutes while I “light painted” the outdoor “bathtub spa” with my trusty mag light, discovering that a metal mag light can become very cold when it is several degrees above freezing at night.  Brrrrrrrr!

Have a look at the bathtub. It has an eerie blue glow!  I placed my mag light inside the tub, covering it with a blue filter.  Fun!

My “light paintbrush” was my trusty mag light, which incidentally gets really cold when it’s 35 degrees Fahrenheit unless you have gloves. I placed my mag light inside the bathtub for about 30-35 seconds with a couple of blue filters laid over the flashlight to give the bathtub its eerie blue glow!!!  The ceiling was “painted” with a green filter, but it doesn’t seem to really show up very much at all.

The streaks of light, or star trails, seen in the sky are the stars moving.  Since the lens was open for over four minutes, they show the movement of the earth.  Longer exposures can show even more circular movements of the stars in the photograph.

250.1 second exposure, F/3.5, 18-200mm VR AF lens, ISO 200.

To see another example of light painting, check out a previous blog of mine, “Midnight In Pioneertown:  Painting With Light“.

Equipment:  Nikon D90, 18-200mm VR Nikkor lens


Featured Photo: Midnight in Pioneertown – Painting With Light

Midnight in Pioneertown

Long Exposure Light Painting
This is a photo I just took very recently out in the high California desert near Joshua Tree in Pioneertown.  I kept the shutter open for 7 minutes, and then “light painted” the water tower and two Joshua Trees by shining an LED flashlight and repeatedly firing my speedlight flash while trying to stay warm during the close-to-freezing midnight photo shoot.

You can see the lights of several cars whizzing past in the distance. The white streaks in the sky are stars. They appear as streaks due to the movement of the earth since the shutter was open for 7 minutes. Fun!!

There’s no Photoshop editing aside from some light sharpening and contrast.  The magic of the image is in the time-consuming but fun shooting process itself.

Equipment:  Nikon D90, 18-200mm VR Nikkor lens

Title: Midnight in Pioneertown
Camera: Nikon D90, 18-200mm VR lens at 18mm, f/16, 421.8 seconds (about 7 minutes)
Location: Pioneertown, California, USA