Painting with Light

I can’t say for sure where I first got the interest in light painting other than I got the idea while out west.  My best guess of the inspiration came while watching the light play as the sun set while shooting with Jen near Phoenix.  I’d seen and read about light painting before of course, but I don’t remember ever feeling a strong desire to try it before then.  I do remember on my drive north out of Phoenix thinking about looking into the concept some more.  I set up the first shoot that I’d planned to try light painting while in Las Vegas, but that shoot ended up falling through.  The first time I brought a model to try light painting came in mid July with Kelsey Dylan.

If you’ve not come across light painting before, it’s photography with artificial light, but not the traditional strobe or flash.  Instead of a short bright light, light painting works by putting a subject in a dark room, using a slow shutter speed, and moving a light source to light the subject.  It allows effects that are difficult or impossible with normal flash.  It’s not easy though.  The long exposure times tax the ability of even the best model to remain motionless.  A lot of trial and error is involved.  Even now with several more shoots behind me I still find that I make more mistakes than I get right.  I’m enjoying the work though and you’ll see more coming in the near future.

It was my first time working with Kelsey and she was great.  She was also very patient as I tried and experimented through this.  The photos aren’t perfect, but I did get a few that came out pretty well.  These are probably the two that worked best.  More to come.



Sunset at the Grand Canyon

I’d had seeing the Grand Canyon on my todo list for a long time and I really made it the center of my trip out west back in June.  I took a number of photos, but found myself oddly having a lot of trouble editing them.  Right after coming back I simply felt none of the photos really captured what I’d seen.  In some ways I think part of the grandness here is something you only see in person.  The sheer scale doesn’t come across in a photo or anything other than reality.  Still with a little time I got better at working some of the images.

This photo is probably my favorite.  It’s a panorama shot taken right at sunset from the North Rim looking back south to the South Rim and beyond.  I believe the mountains visible in the distance beyond the other rim are the San Francisco Peaks toward Flagstaff, Arizona.  For those who wonder why so many Americans are bad at geography consider the San Francisco Peaks are in Arizona while the city is in California.  The photo were taken from Bright Angel Point about the same time as the sunset photo I posted while flying home.  A better edit of that photo will be coming soon.

The colors of the night sky were just amazing as and after sunset.  The peace, even with probably another dozen people enjoying the views, also stands out.  What I remember most though was the wind.  Here and later at the lodge while waiting for dinner the wind gusted over 40mph quite often.  I was standing on a point out into the canyon for these photos and the wind coming up out of the canyon was an interesting experience.  It cooled so much after dark that I actually went back and changed from my shorts into jeans between taking these photos and dinner at the lodge.  In my little cabin that night though it felt rather cozy and relaxing lying there listening to the wind gusting outside while warm under a couple blankets.  At the same time I knew that I would be in Las Vegas in less than twenty-four hours with a temperature over 100 degrees.


Melissa in the Waterfall

The trip out west left me re-energized for photograph like I’d not been in a while.  I’d taken a break from shooting for several weeks including all of May as I’d mentioned in an earlier post.  When I started back with the shoot with Ginger I just felt more into the shoots, more engaged with the models I collaborated with, and clearer on what I wanted to accomplish at each shoot.  One part of this was a willingness to try some things and work without a plan as much.  Generally before an outdoor shoot I’ll scout the location several times to establish locations and spots.  I found myself more open now to just going out and seeing what we came across in the process.  It’s not something I would do with any model, but there are ones that I know it would work.

That’s how Melissa Troutt and I found ourselves exploring a new location on a hot day in late June.  These were the worst days of a heat wave in the south with temperatures setting daily record highs.  This day would be one of the hottest reaching around 105 degrees at my home.  Even in the western North Carolina mountains around 3,000 feet temperatures climbed well into the 80s.  That elevation and the wood cover probably cooled it at least ten degrees over Asheville.

Our first spot was a nice wooden bridge where I got a wonderful headshot of Melissa.


Our first exploration from here came to a bit of a dead end, but still found photo I liked in a bit of a dreamy style.


And then we found one of the best waterfalls that I’ve come across in the area.  It’s a wonderful private location and surprisingly easy to get to once you know it’s there.  We did a few photos around the falls


Then Melissa braved the cold water for some simply amazing shots in the flow itself.  Her willingness to endure the cold water to get shots like these is part of what makes her such a joy to work with.


Xlcr Moon – The Butterfly Whisperer

An obvious shoot idea for someone that often photographs models outdoors is for various parts of nature on the model.  I’ve done a few of these such as fall leaves covering an otherwise nude model to insects on a model.  One that had never quite worked out was having a butterfly land on a model for a few photos.  There have been encounters with butterflies in the past at shoots, but they just don’t seem to want to cooperate.  They seem quite camera shy in fact.  For some reasons the butterflies would much rather land on me than the young, pretty model that I’m photographing.  I’ve even had them land on the camera, though not the lens which would at least end up with an interesting angle.  Fact is that butterflies just don’t cooperate for me.

So when Xlcr Moon and I went for an outdoor shoot I had no thought of them.  In late June where we are going I knew they would be common.  In my planning though I had given much more thought to the last rhodedendrum flowers as background.  We met up for an early shoot, which was a good thing given the worst of a heat wave coincided with our shoot set up weeks before.  Luckily we’d planned to start early and a bit up into the mountains which let us avoid the worst of the heat of a day that neared 100 degrees.  That special southern blend of temperatures and humidity always makes outdoors shoot draining as the summer turns into July.

As we arrive at the first location, Moon posing in a stream, the butterflies were a constant swarm around us.  Teasing, but never quite landing until…



Which is why Moon is now known as the butterfly whisperer.

Borrow my Book

I published my book back last December  and the sales generally met my expectations.  I’d planned an updated edition for this summer, but that now appear to more likely be coming sometime in September.  Life just got too busy from May through now and some things had to be pushed back.  There are some updates to layout and organization to better explain some topics, error corrections, and perhaps most significantly larger photos.  I’ll post an update here when the second edition is ready and it will be freely available to anyone who purchased the book either from Amazon or directly from me.

For now though I am trying an experiment.  I’ve enrolled the book with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Select program which makes it currently available only through Amazon’s store for the Kindle.  I’ve sold more books through Amazon than all other sources combined, and significantly so since about February so this seems the best place for this experiment.  This means two things.  First if you are a member of Amazon Prime you can borrow the book as part of the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library program for no charge.  This give you full access to the book similar to borrowing a library book.

In addition I’ll be making the book available for free at least one time later this month to see the effect.  I’ll announce those on the blog and Twitter on the day they are available so follow this blog or follow me on Twitter to be notified.