Monday, March 5, 2012

Tracing Hand Movements on Camera With Light

I've seen many different applications and techniques of light painting, as I'm sure you have as well, but when I stumbled upon this article from Popular Science from 1945, I thought it would be fun to use a similar (and simple!) technique to add motion to a still image that captures our everyday movements.



In order to make photographs like these, you will need a tripod or steady surface, a camera with a long exposure setting, and a flash light or other light source. I used a colored laser pointer and a small LED flash light. Set up the composition of your shot with the camera on a tripod. Make sure there are no other distracting light sources in or near the frame, as they will blow out due to the long exposure. I turned all of the lights out before taking these photographs. Set your camera's shutter speed to as long as it will take in order to complete your image, some trial and error will be required. Most of the activities seen in the photographs took 20-30 seconds to complete.

combing hair

stirring a pot
You will want to first establish the background of the image, or the subject being still. I used the on-camera flash to establish this part of the images. After the initial flash, then turn your light source on and begin moving around. For these example photos, I found that the best way to hold the light source was with in the hand tucked next to the object that was moving. For example, in the brushing hair photo, the laser pointer was held in the same hand as the comb with a finger gripping both the comb and the laser. Continue moving until the shutter closes.

tying shoe laces

opening a tripod


- Kelly Latos