Light Painting Photographer Darren Hopkins has been doing some amazing things using his plexiglass light painting tools. The colors and light textures he has been producing are simply beautiful. I asked Darren if he would share some of his secrets with us and he provided this excellent light painting tutorial showing exactly what he is using to create his imagery.
Plexiglass Blade Light Painting Tutorial by Darren Hopkins:
In this tutorial I am going to explain how to get different textures and colors from the plexiglass blades, using simple items to customise them. I will also explain the camera settings I use and the techniques that work for me.
Equipment you will need:
Camera capable of bulb mode (or Long Exposure)
Remote or Cable Shutter Release
Plexiglass Light Painting Attachment
Torch or Flashlight
Sellotape or Transparent Tape
Customising the Blades
The tools that I use are the Light Painting Brushes Plexiglass Attachments and Patrick Rochon’s Liteblades, customised with colored gels, masking tape, sellotape and cling film.
With the Light Painting Brushes, I cut strips of colored gels to go around the edge of the blades and attach them with the sellotape. Using a combination of different colours on the edges to give an interesting effect when waved. I will also half cover some of the blades with extra large masking tape which gives a smoky/milky effect and is a nice contrast to the vivid edges.
I do a similar thing with the Liteblades. Put little pieces of coloured gels in the connecting part of the blade, again half cover with masking tape and use cling film around the base of the blade.
Set up is simple – just the camera on a tripod focused on the area where you will be waving the blades.
To set focus you turn the lights on. Mark the area where you will be working. Zoom in pull focus (either on manual or auto focus) once you have the focus set switch the camera to MANUAL focus and then pull back out and frame the shot. Switching the camera to manual focus will make sure the camera will remain in focus when the lights are off.
The camera settings I use are f/11, bulb mode, white balance daylight and ISO ranging from 100 to 320. I usually keep the settings the same and adjust the ISO until I’m happy with the results.
The lens is set at about 28mm for most of the shots (full frame); I stand about 1.5m – 2.0m away from the camera and use a remote to release the shutter.
There are two torches work with Partick’s Liteblades they are the Klarus XT12 and RS11, I use both of them. The Klarus torches have a maximum lumen output of 930 lumens, I sometimes use them on 1/2 power mode to get a pulse width modulation effect.
With the Light Painting Brushes Plexiglass you can use just about any torch attached via the Universal Connector. With the Light Painting Brushes I use the Klarus lights and I also use the LED Lenser M7 with a 400 lumen output.
The technique is trial and error but I’ve found some movements give more interesting results:
Dragging the blade from left to right, swirling in the middle, gives a tidier look and can produce nice loops with different colors.
I also hold two or three blades in one hand for these techniques, which gives more texture and interesting patterns as the light from one blade passes through another. Using the strobe mode on the torch also adds a different look.