Nocturnal Netherlands

Location: Netherlands - The Hague & Amsterdam

Hello again, this is the first post I've made in over a month, it feels good to be back in the states after a long travel abroad! Let's start with my trip to the Netherlands where I met up with fellow light-art photographer Hugo Baptista

He welcomed myself and Astrobandit to his home and showed us a local park that he thought we might like to take some photos at, so we stayed up late this night and came up with the following animation (above) along w a few other gems.

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This (above) was the first image of the night, we were walking down this tree-lined path when suddenly a park employee truck cast some light from behind the trees and gave me an idea for a photo! Without delay I unpacked my camera gear and set up for this shot - my 'October Skeletons' with some nice orange light from behind - thanks Hugo for the backlighting here!  

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As you can see, the fog began to grow thick late into the night, this presents some interesting lighting opportunities to silhouette figures or trees and give a mysterious feel to the environment. 

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Before we hop over to Amsterdam, I wanted to share this 'Tree Rex' image that took a bit of coordination between myself and Hugo. He did the orange backlighting combined with the front 45 degree blue lighting on each side the trees for added depth. Then I added in my pink T. Rex for a pop of dinosaur in the center using a Night-Writer w pink color-tip.

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I can tell you it wasn't easy to get this shot of Amsterdam at night, not only because of the light-pollution, but because of all the bicycles and foot traffic! I was dodging selfie-sticks and bikes throughout this image, it's not my best light-writing but it definitely captures the vibrant life of the city! Old and new together in a hodgepodge of tourism combined with a long history of trade, war, art, and culture. 

Amsterdam II

Here (above) on a more quiet street I was able to capture a better light-font with the backdrop of one of Amsterdam's famous canals that permeate the city, but I think I like the last one better overall due to the character of the city in it. Tell me if you agree, and stay tuned for more because the next city we visit is Berlin in Germany. Until then, stay bright my light friends!

Goblin Valley

Location: Goblin Valley, Utah

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There's a place in Utah that looks like a Goblin kingdom due to its unique concentration of strange geological features called 'Hoodoos'.

Astrobandit and I took a road trip there recently (and other incredible locations that you will see soon). Here's a short vid I shot on my phone of us seeing it on arrival. This will give you a sense of space and how easy you could get lost in this weird and awesome place:

My LED tool of choice for the evening - the eldest current model of my Night-Writer, practically polished from use, basking in the last rays of light. Later I would lose this Night-Writer for the rest of the trip only to discover it in a bag weeks later. Thankfully, I always pack a few when I travel!

Here are some of the images I got the chance to light-paint during our night at Goblin Valley.

Let's start with introductions, say hello to Harry, Larry and Jerry:

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Delving deeper into the Goblin Kingdom, I brought out my old (Canon A-1) 35mm film camera for another light-painting featuring some Goblins. I call this one 'Goblin Slayer'. It would make a cool video game I think:

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I love the dynamic range of film! Look at that glow around the light-lines, and the way that light hits the rocks around our characters. 

I feel like the SOOC movement (straight out of camera photographers) should only shoot film if they are concerned with the purity of an image, for film by nature does not lie and cannot be manipulated in the way that digital can. It has a negative for record so you can see for a fact that it was unedited. Otherwise it's just one photographer's word against anothers.

After a bit of exploring in the dark, Astrobandit and I definitely got lost. With a new moon on a cloudy night, it was hard not to get lost in this goblin-riddled labyrinth! Luckily, after a few long exposures at high ISO in different directions, I made out the shape of a shade structure overlooking the valley. This gave me some insight as to where the hell we were in this massive Hoodoo labyrinth.

The next image I wanted to create was one with a caterpillar in it. I thought the hoodoos looked like mushrooms anyways, so it was a clear choice:

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The clouds parted briefly so I could get some stars in my image! Really happy with the way this one turned out :D

I lit the mushroom hoodoo by using a red LED light and my hand to block the lower portion of the light so that it only hit the top part of the rock. It took a few tries to get it just right!

Next up is a little NSFW but I thought it was funny, I'll end this post with a light-painted dick pic using a particularly phallic part of the environment:

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That's all for now, check back in a few days for a Southwestern light-tour update! Shine bright friends.

Desert Nightlife

Location: Pioneertown, CA

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Here's a slow dance with an equally slow shutter, this image took 156 seconds to illustrate with my red and blue tipped Night-Writer

Astrobandit and I checked this place out last week in Yucca Valley called The Ruin Venue which is mostly used for large parties and weddings. I set up for a few images using it's interesting outdoor features like this geometric lighting arrangement which was powered by a small generator.

For this image, I began the exposure with the lights on, and then walked to the generator and unplugged the lights to illustrate my dancing skeletons. The weather was strange this night, it was relatively calm in this part of the desert, but we could see intense storm clouds forming in the distance. Lighting struck a handful of times, but it was far off in the distance, so we just enjoyed the show.

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Here's a view of the fireplace inside the actual ruins. I thought this would be a good spot for my Stegosaurus Light-Fossil - this particular image is a composite of two shots. The stegosaurus took 198 seconds to produce, then I did an additional shot for the sky so I could capture those stars that were visible for a brief moment between the stormy clouds.

If you'd like to try this sort of image (above) for yourself, you can check out my blog post on compositing High/Low ISO photos together RIGHT HERE.

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Another view of the interior from outside the structure with the lights on. I really enjoyed the inside/outside feel of this place, it blends in well with the environment and makes for unique photo opportunities like this one. 

To learn more about light-painting, check out my EDU page for a full how-to explanation.

Bayou Country

Location: Caddo Lake, TX

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Here we are at Caddo Lake in Uncertain Texas. It's an uncertain kind of a place and you can see that on my light-skeleton faces, being on the border of Texas and Louisiana, it's easy to get confused. You can hear strange bird calls in the distance, frogs croaking, and the occasional catfish swishing about. There might be alligators depending on when you visit, and there are a few venomous snakes to look out for, namely copperheads and water moccasins.

Water moccasins are excellent swimmers, and yes, I was a bit nervous about those while taking this picture, those along with the alligators.

Earlier that day, Astro Bandit and I did a few walks around the lake to check out the whole area for possible locations. I thought this opening in the cypress grove was a great spot to get an overview of the bayou. The next day we hopped in a canoe you can rent at the ranger station and took a tour of the wetlands. Here's a short video for ya:

There are a few interesting things about this area in terms of cryptozoology, and it's easy to imagine how a large animal might live in this bizarre area. Some say there is a swamp-bigfoot, or you might say a North American Wood Ape that lives around the area. Here is one such report from a hunter who was on private property around the area of Caddo Lake when the sighting occurred.

All I could think of was the old horror posters for Swamp Thing, so naturally I took to the docks that night and did what I usually do in these inspiring situations.

To finish off the night, I put a pair of recently acquired waders on and got into the swamp to test out a water-proofed prototype of my Night-Writer. I've been trying to add on different animals to my Spirit Animals series, and I haven't caught an Alligator until now, I'm very happy with the way it's eye aligned:

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It was a strange and eerie feeling being in the swamp, the stench of the still water combined with the fear or water-moccasins and an occasional fish brushing up against your leg was unnerving to say the least.

Wild West

Location: Pioneertown, CA

Out in the desert sits a dusty old film set from the 1940's called Pioneer town near Joshua Tree, CA. Here is where Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and some of the old west film stars made television shows and films.

It's a fun place to visit and there's a great honky tonk bar and BBQ down the street called Pappy and Harriet's

I used a blue and pink tipped Night-Writer for the skeleton and a gelled red high-power LED light for the outhouse interior.

Watch out for Joshua Trees around the town, I nailed my head on one of those branches while light-painting this minecart. Luckily, I was wearing a Bronson Beanie and it wasn't as bad as it would have been otherwise - those trees are prickly!

For more light-skeleton madness, check out the Gallery below:

Fun with Sculptures

Location: Borrego Springs, CA | Settings: F5.6, ISO 1600, 97 seconds

I've had this idea since last Spring, but never got a chance to carry out the series until last week.

Here are all three of my ideas on paper - it's good to sketch ideas out as soon as you have them, otherwise they disappear.

sketchbook

It's funny how the sketch is often the idealist version, then in reality things change a bit.

For instance, my skeleton looks like he doesn't know what the hell he is doing with a pink sword in his hand. More concerned with the surprising color of his weapon than the imminent threat in front of him.

For the next image, Battle Beasts (which I've posted before last May) - there are subtle nuances that make it different than the sketch.

For instance, the horse sculptures being much larger than I was expecting. I brought a step-ladder to the location, but it didn't do me much good as the soft sand swallowed about 10 inches off it's height. 

The moral of this post is that life can and will throw you curveballs - so think on your feet and as Tim Gunn would say, 'Make it Work'.

To see the full collection of Light-Skeletons and wall-art options, check the print shop below:

On the Rocks

Location: Joshua Tree, CA / Settings: F7.1, ISO 50, 841 second exposure

Here we are in Joshua Tree, CA - land of strange trees, and large boulders.

Before taking this long exposure, I stood a boulder that was a little too round, it rocked to the side and I jumped off - with scenes from that James Franco / Danny Boyle film '72 Hours' flashing through my mind!

This was a solid opportunity to use all the new Color-Tips of the Night-Writer during the course of the long exposure. It helped to hold all the colors I wanted to use in my left hand and put them in my shirt pocket after using.

Check out the Gallery to view the entire collection of Light-Skeletons and for the option to purchase prints.

Mid-Century Modernists

Location: Palm Springs, CA / Settings: F6.3, ISO 50, 202 seconds

Let's take a little trip to Palm Springs - this is a building designed by Albert Frey built in 1965 - It was first a gas-station, then it was turned into an art gallery, and now it's a visitor center. I illustrated some yellow skeletons to go with the red light on the side with the help of my Night-Writer and a yellow color-tip.

It looks like some sort of jetsons-style spaceship. Stand underneath for the full warp-speed effect:

It used to have a really cool entrance, but now there's a curved wall that contains the building, making it a bit more difficult for photography. Here's a link to see it back then with some fountains in the front and an overall more angular feel.

In addition to the triangle shape, there's a few stone boulders off to the side, they must weigh a ton each - I opted for some smiley faces using the Night-Writer with some pink/purple color-tips:

If you take the road up towards the mountains you can take a tram-ride up from the Palm Desert into the San Jacinto Mountains where the temperature can drop 40+ degrees - don't forget to bring a jacket! 

Once up top you'll see sweeping views of the desert and Palm Springs below. I took this opportunity to draw in a light-skeleton skating one of the handrails up there (I used the Night-Writer with white/orange color-tips):

I call this photo 'desert iguana' because after looking at the skateboard, I decided it looks a little bit like one of these creatures. The tail is far longer than your standard skateboard.

You can check out more light-skeletons along with print options in the gallery below:

Sands of Time

Location: White Sands, NM / Settings: (Composite) Light art at F7.1, ISO 50, 547 seconds. Sky at F3.5, ISO 1600, 13 seconds.

White Sands New Mexico is a wonderful place to visit in person, it's not like most dunes on Earth. At around 275 square miles, White Sands is the largest gypsum dune field in the world.

White sand reflects light and can be seen as slightly peach, blue, or purple depending on what time of day you visit. 

Coral Pink Sand Dunes in Utah is a dune of a different color. Made of wind-swept Navajo Red Sandstone, grains of iron-tinted quartz give it the reddish color. Here's the meager contents of my wallet for color comparison:

coral sand dunes

One of the most interesting features to sand dunes is the patterns they can develop during strong winds.

Here are some unadulterated dunes on my last visit to Death Valley at the Mesquite Dunes:

For more incredible landscapes, check out my Nature Collection.

River Dance

Location: Los Angeles, CA / Settings: F6.3, ISO 100, 471 second exposure.

Gear used: Canon 6D, 24-70mm Lens, Manfrotto Tripod, Remote Shutter, and prototype Night-Writer.

The most important advice I have to give about water and light-painting is that you have to get in it to get the shot.. Do what you need to do, but realize you will be getting wet.

For this kind of photo, being in Los Angeles, and all the reasons that our river water is not as clean as say Denver's right next to the Rocky Mountains, I would recommend a pair of these black rubber boots if you plan a similar shot.

For less polluted waters, you can probably go with a black pair of water-shoes instead.

Check out my ever-growing collection of Light-Skeletons on the image link below:

Primary Goals

Location: Leo Carrillo Beach - Malibu, CA / Settings: (Composite) Light skeletons at F5.6, ISO 250, 165 seconds. Stars at F2.8, ISO 3200, 15 seconds.

Gear used: Canon 6D, 24-70mm Lens, Manfrotto Tripod, Wireless Remote, and Night-Writer light-pen w Red Yellow and Blue Color-tips.

For this image, I wanted to take advantage of a sunset that just happened - blue hour was giving way to night and the milky way was in the perfect spot.

It was an unusually hot night for the middle of October in Malibu, CA - 85 degrees at 9:30pm when we left the beach!

Check out the full light-skeleton collection by clicking the image below:

Full Moon Hiking

Location: Rainbow Basin, CA / Settings: F5.6, ISO 100, 317 seconds

For this shot I used my trusty Canon 6D - (here's a pretty awesome bundle deal) coupled with my 24-70mm lens (another pretty sweet bundle deal). This was the last shot on my camera for the night - the battery died immediately after the shutter closed.

I used TCB's RGB light-pen for this illustration taken in the middle of the desert under a full moon shortly after the lunar eclipse. Here's a killer DIY tutorial on how to make an RGB light-pen for yourself.

To see the full collection of Light Skeletons, click the Gallery link below:




Make Way for Mcway

Location: Mcway Falls - Big Sur,CA / Settings: (Composite) Light art at F.5.6, ISO 100, 205 seconds. Environment at F.2, ISO 3200, 15 seconds.

Gear: Canon 6D, Zeiss F2 28mm lens, Manfrotto 190x tripod, Wireless Remote, and Night-Writer kit.

To get this place properly lit at night you really have to do your homework in terms of where the moon will be - it's nestled away in a cove.

I'm not saying it's properly lit here - it's about halfway there (as you can see from the halfway lit waterfall just below the heart - will have to try again under different conditions. Live and learn!

If you'd like to draw your own light-skeletons - check out my video for a guided how-to lesson - just don't add a face for it to appear turned around.

Becoming a big fan of Big Sur, CA yet? Check out another blog post on Big Sur, CA from our last visit in June.

Click the image below for the full gallery of light-skeletons with art-printing options:


Hide and go sneak

Location: Sedona, AZ / Settings: F.10, ISO 400, 256 seconds

Gear: Canon 6D24-70mm LensManfrotto 190x Tripod, Night-Writer kit, Rosco color gels, and Remote shutter.

For this shot I had to take advantage of these trees - they seemed to be planted about three feet away from each other in the most meticulous manner.

There's a full moon just beyond those hills in the distance - it lit up the sky just right to give this image a good deal of depth. 

If you haven't seen my video on how to draw one of these light-skeleton dudes, check it out here for a step by step video demonstration - created with color-tipped LED light.

I colored the trees using red, orange, yellow, green, light blue, and deep blue rosco gels - casted light from just behind the camera.

See the full collection of light-skeletons along with printing options on their Gallery page:

Ain't Life Grand?

Location: Grand Canyon, AZ / Settings: F.4, ISO 100, 102 seconds

Gear: Canon 6D,  24-70mm LensManfrotto TripodRemote Shutter-release and Night-Writer.

Stepping up to this sheer cliff is a unique experience. If I could fly, it would be a lot less nerve-racking! 

Either way, the Grand Canyon in Arizona definitely helps to put our lives in perspective. 6 million years helped to carve out this unique wonder of the world.

For this shot I didn't need much light, there was a nearly full moon that helped to light the depths of the Grand Canyon. I opted for a minimalist approach with the non-tipped bright-white Night-Writer.

See the full collection of light skeletons in the Gallery:

Rainbones

Location: Mono Lake, CA / Settings: F5.6-22, ISO 100, 498 seconds

Gear: Canon 6DRokinon 14mm LensManfrotto TripodRemote Shutter-release, TCB RGB light-pen, and Proto Night-Writer.

Light art is a strange medium. You don't see other artists creating exclusively in pitch-black conditions. Graff writers, maybe - but even they have street lamps for some visibility.

I was listening to the radio the other day and there was a story about a steel guitar player that liked to play in complete darkness because he thought it heightened his senses - let him play better.

I feel the same is true with light art - I think that your mind becomes sharp and receptive because it doesn't have to focus on visual stimuli - it changes focus.

Stuck between a rock and a hard place

Location: Alabama Hills, CA / Settings: (Composite) Light art at F16-F4, ISO 400 571 seconds. Stars at F2.8, ISO 3200, 15 seconds.

Gear: Canon 6DRokinon 14mm LensManfrotto TripodRemote Shutter-release and Night-Writer with Red and Blue Color-tips.

This image was captured as the clouds rolled in - the skies are incredible out here, especially under a new moon. Too bad this was my only glimpse of them!

As you can see from the exposure time of 571 seconds, climbing rocks in the dark is not easy task - It's an easy way to break your neck, ankle, or anything else you can think of.

Slow and steady may not win the race here, but you can still manage to try again tomorrow with this technique - a sure foot beats a hasty one.

I found the Alabama Hills to be a perfect spot for my between a rock and a hard place light-illustration - I often feel this way when trying to tackle too many projects at once and having all my financial burdens come to a head at the end of the month :P

Rainbros

Location: Murphy's Ranch - Pacific Palisades, CA / Settings: (Variable F-stop) F2.8 for Casted light, F16 for Skeletons, ISO 100, 553 seconds.

Gear: Canon 6DRokinon 14mm LensManfrotto TripodRemote Shutter-release and Proto Night-Writer.

This is not an easy location to get to - it's about a 7 mile hike in and out.. But if a group of teenagers can get to it carrying a 3ft glass bong, then you can hike it with some camera gear.

One of the funniest moments happened when Astrobandit and I were setting up for this shot in the dark - A group of high school aged kids walked toward the building with flashlights and shined their light on us in the middle of this doorway (it was pitch black) - they collectively FREAKED OUT, a girl screamed - which triggered other girls to scream, and we watched as a group of 12 flashlights ran off in the opposite direction screaming for their lives!

We nearly died of laughter and Jordan attempted to explain that we were not ghosts, murderers or anything like that. It was a Scooby-Doo moment.

doorway

If you'd like to take this hike for yourself, read up on this post.

Ruins of Riverside Dr.

Location: Riverside Dr. - Los Angeles, CA / Settings: F8, ISO 100, 347 seconds

Info on how this shot was created:

Gear: Canon 6D,  24-70mm LensManfrotto TripodRemote Shutter-release with green and purple tipped Night-Writer.

I wanted to test out my new color tips at a location where I knew there would be a lot of ambient light - in Los Angeles, that is pretty much anywhere.

This is a place I drive by on a regular basis but rarely stop at - Ruins of Riverside Dr. - newest addition to the light-skeletons gallery.