Andrew Wells has gone orb crazy… Recently he broke the world record for the number of orbs captured in a single exposure. This record shattering light painting photograph of 100 orbs, yes I said 100, took weeks of waiting for the right conditions, over four hours to set up, and 34 minutes to physically spin the 100 orbs! After Andy rested his arm I got the chance to catch up with him and ask a few questions about his “Century of Light Orbs” project.
LPP ∇ Insane work on the Century of Light Orbs project. 100 ORBS in a single shot….. What inspired you to do such a thing?
AW ∇ Don’t really know how this one came about. We were out one night messing around and came up with a random shot of 21 orbs and we thought if we could somehow organize them it would look really cool. we pulled off 25 in organized rows and we thought “well its only four times that, how hard can it be!” one thing led to another and here we have it…….
LPP ∇ Take us thru it how long did it take to get this shot set up? How did you get them lined up so perfect?
AW ∇ The key to this shot was finding the right location. We needed an elevated position in order to see the perspective of the orbs in the grid but the ground needed to be well groomed for planning out purposes. Once we found the location (Whirlowbrook Hall in Sheffield) we then had to wait for the right weather conditions. We needed a clear, cloudless night in order to minimize light pollution from street lamps reflecting off the clouds and no moon. As we were planning what we calculated would be a 35-40 minute exposure we needed to keep light to an absolute minimum. This then obviously caused issues when it came to seeing what we were doing in terms of laying out the grid. This was done painstakingly with lasers, lights, tiny sticks to mark the location of where the orbs would be and a lot of trial and error, endless adjustments and most of all patience! This process probably took about an hour and a half to two hours! (we wanted it to be as perfect as possible!)
LPP ∇ Who helped you with the shoot?
AW ∇ This was obviously not a one man job and this project, along with many others, could not have been achieved without the help of my brother, Michael (Thanks buddy!)
LPP ∇ Did you spin all of the orbs yourself?
AW ∇ Once the shot was set up and we were ready to go I fired the shutter and we took half the grid each and started spinning….34 minutes later we found ourselves running back to the camera like a pair of kids to see what it looked like. I’d seen it in my minds eye many times (and even mocked one up on photoshop) but the truth was about to be revealed! The concentration needed to spin quality orbs constantly for 34 minutes while making sure you hit the mark on every one was almost too much.
LPP ∇ What was your light set up for the shot? Was it a custom light rig or just a strand of LED’s?
AW ∇ We use a custom light rig to spin our orbs which has been developed over time with many tweaks and adjustments along the way. It’s constructed using carbon fibre parts from a fishing rod with all the wiring running through the rig with the battery and switch built in to the handle. This operates with a SINGLE interchangeable led on each end which gives very crisp lines but the down side can be it can take a long time to spin a very full orb.
LPP ∇ Did you get it on the first take?
AW ∇ Did we get it on the first shot, well actually, no! I can see the funny side now but at the time I was mortified when I realized that I (much to the relief of Michael) has missed two from the back of the grid! What did we do? we just got straight back out there and did it all over again, with all that time spent setting up, I wasn’t going anywhere until we had the shot in the bag. The second time we nailed it!
LPP ∇ Any close calls with someone screwing up the shot?
AW ∇ The location was very quiet and out of the way so luckily we weren’t disturbed for the entire duration of the setting up and execution of the shot. It was a good job as right behind the camera is Whirlow Brook Hall, a small mansion house used for weddings etc and they had two very bright emergency lights out on the patio which we had to disable for the duration but were obviously very careful to ensure they were put back in full working order before we left!
LPP ∇ Did you or are you going to submit the shot to the guinness book of world records?
AW ∇ Quite a few people have mentioned the guinness book of records. The attempt was made really just to see if we could do it and as a personal challenge, so no plans to submit the shot but you never know!
LPP ∇ Will you try for more if someone comes along and does 101?
AW ∇ If someone comes along and does 101 (something we did talk about while setting up the shot but decided to go for the purity of the 100) then it just gives me an excuse to go out and do some more!
LPP ∇ Thank you very much for your time awesome work!
AW ∇ I just want to mention at this point that a lot of my inspiration comes from the great community of light painters on flickr and my thanks and gratitude goes out to all of them (you know who you are) for the encouragement and inspiration that they all give! Thanks guys!
Thanks for your interest in the century of light orbs and watch this space for my next project!