Light painting photographer Andrew Hall has some of, if not the best orbs in the light painting game. Recently Andrew’s images were selected to grace the cover of the july issue of New Scientist magazine as a representation of the quantum realm. I caught up with him to find out how and to see if he would tell me how to make an orb like his….
LPP ∇ Hey Andrew congrats on getting the cover of NEW Scientist! Can you give me some background and tell me a little about how this happened?
AH ∇ The art director was familiar with my work via my website, blog and Flickr and was looking for images to illustrate an article on quantum theory. The orb on the cover is one from my archive which I shot in late 2010, entitled ‘Linear Collider’. Ironically, the images and article were to have appeared in the previous issue, but inconveniently someone discovered the Higgs Boson, or ‘God Particle’ at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland and my shots and the accompanying article got bumped back in favor of that story.
LPP ∇ Man well at least it still got published, even a month late bumped by the ‘God Particle’!?!?!
AH ∇ The Higgs Boson is such a huge deal, so I was glad it was something important.
LPP ∇ So how did the art director contact you via phone call or email?
AH ∇ The art director and I worked the whole thing out online. I transferred the final 2 high resolution files via We Transfer and they took it from there.
LPP ∇ Is this the first time you have had your images used for something like this? Did they pay you to use the shots, or did you do it just the exposure?
AH ∇ I have shot for many different magazines and publications over the course of my 28 years as a professional photographer, and this was a very smooth job, commissioned by an experienced client who was clear about that he wanted something specific and original and paid appropriately.
LPP ∇ Can you tell me a little bit about the shots, you create some of, if not the BEST orbs in light painting photography would you like to share some of your secrets on how you create these incredible shots?
AH ∇ When I first started making these orbs in about 2010, I wasn’t happy with my hand held spinning, so I built a small, ramshackle rig to enable me to get perfect circles, which I am still evolving. I wanted to be able to spin my LED’s at variable speed, either clockwise or counterclockwise around a fixed axis. I have had so many inquiries about how I do it, and I am amazed people still ask. The technique is a logical one and I worked out how to do it in a day, so I am waiting for someone else to crack it.
Maybe you recall the traffic on Flickr recently about how to make ‘domes’? Everybody wanted to be told how it was done, but it was the dedicated ones who experimented with the principles who figured it out and quite rightly didn’t want to share.
LPP ∇ Yep I’m familiar with that…What are you working on now?
AH ∇ I am working on ever higher speed rotation at the moment, trying to push the envelope of what is geometrically possible with my party store lights and home made components.
LPP ∇ How many copies of the magazine did you buy?
AH ∇ I bought 2 magazines, one to copy and one to read.
LPP ∇ Anything else you would like to add?
AH ∇ I would like to take a moment to say thanks for the continued encouragement from all my Flickr contacts, some of whom really inspired me to persevere at light painting when I was ready to give up trying to match their superb work.
Congratulations again and thanks for taking the time to answer some questions.