Sunday, January 20, 2013

Light Painting With Strobes

Below is my take, my shot, and my view on Oakley's TEN... Click on "Read more..."  below and see how I did it.

The image above is the final image of what I shot which is an almost in-camera photo. I needed to do a  few cosmetic enhancements to get the look I wanted. Check out the series of photos below on how I did the cosmetic enhancements.

Before we go to the cosmetic enhancements part, let me tell you some technical details of the image:
  • Lens: 85mm
  • Aperture: F16 - this is to get as much of depth-of field (DOF) I can get
  • ISO: 100 - this to get the cleanest photo I can get
  • Exposure: BULB
Yes, you read that right! I shot in BULB mode. Why you may ask. Simply because I was short in light. I had only two (2) strobes to work with but I wanted four (4) lights to act as listed below:
  • Background light;
  • On-axis side light (camera right) for the logo;
  • Front-top light for highlights to define shape; and
  • Another side light (camera left) but on higher height for additional highlight and shape on the left side
As I worked with BULB mode, I turned off the lights in the room with just enough light so I can move around the darkened room and proceeded to do some light painting. Light painting was my last option to get the effect of four lights with just only two available strobes -- three parts of the so-called painting are:
  • Background + side light (camera right)
  • Front-top light, and
  • Side light (camera left)
And this is the result after 27 seconds of moving about in the dark:

Here's a screen capture of the resulting image with it's EXIF info.

I liked the exposure and lighting already but I wanted to do the effect of it floating in the air as I have envisioned it. Now that I've got my base image to work with, read on and let's begin the cosmetic enhancement part. 

Initially I wanted to rig this setup with nylon strings so it would literally float and I can just clean up the strings during post-processing but I didn't had any nylon strings so that plan was out the window. I settled for a coffee table or some sort that I found which I thought would be the next perfect option. Using the table, the camera angle plays an important role in the setup. If you can notice, I intentionally aligned the camera straight into the subject. I also adjusted the camera's height at par to the table's height and angled it close to 0 degrees to eliminate as much of the desk surface area and have as little contact points seen between the edges of the subject and the table. I did this to make the post processing easier. So, after the usual part of my workflow of White Balance (WB) correction and dust cleaning, let's check out the first step in achieving that final image.

1. Remove the table and replace it with the background color. I carefully selected the table and deleted it away. I selected the lightest color from the background color and filled the space where the table used to be and blended it with the rest of the background.

Table removed and background blended
2. Remove the reflections of the table on the lens. Now that the table was replaced with the background color, it looks that it is floating but the lens caught the reflection of the table. So I carefully replaced the light colored reflection on the lens with the darker shade on the lens.

Reflection on top part of the lens removed
Reflection on the bottom part of the lens removed
Darkened the frame that cut across the lens in the background
3. Remove the reflections on the left-side part. Similarly, the reflections on the left-side too needs to be replaced with shade of the lens on that side as well.

Reflections on the left-side part replaced
4. Sharpen the image. I sharpened the image a little using the Unsharp Mask filter.

Sharpened photo
Lastly, the final photo again as seen at the top of this post. Click on the image for a larger version.

Final photo

So, there it is. I hope you picked up something about photography as I have shown here some neat tricks like:
  • camera angle and how it helps the post-processing;
  • light painting -- to achieve the look of four light sources with only two available light sources; and 
  • post-processing clean-up
By the way, those who knows me personally will know that this sunglass and I are the same in some way.



  1. Saw the final picture on TDP but I'm even more impressed when read all the details... Nice job!

    1. Thank you very much for the positive feedback. Cheers!


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