Painting with Light

Last Saturday night, Mr. Blue Eyed Yonder tried his hand at something new…painting with light. With gear in hand, he headed down to historic Oakland Cemetery for a photography workshop. 
I had no idea what kind of photos he might come home with, I just hoped I wouldn’t see any eerie faces peering back at me.  As soon as he came home (around midnight) I made him download his pictures for a little sneak peek.
There were tons of really neat photos, but as you can imagine, a workshop is for learning…so not so many masterpieces. (That comes later.) These photos should give you a good idea of some of the things he learned and a little peek into Oakland if you have never visited before.
Note: Anyone that knows me, knows I am not the dark, creepy, dance-around-in-the-graveyard type. Don’t get me wrong, I love Halloween, but it’s kind of weird to see Blue Eyed Yonder plastered with pictures of tombstones and mausoleums in the dead of summer. I try to focus on the history and photography aspect of the night and forget the whole people-are-actually-buried-here part!
Mr. BEY arrived in the cemetery around 6:00pm. For the first hour, students roamed the cemetery to select the spot they would like to focus on during the workshop.
Oakland Cemetery is really quite beautiful. During the day people jog, walk their dog or enjoy their afternoon under a shady tree. The cemetery is almost park-like; such a quiet place within a bustling city.
As the sun set, the instructor gave a demonstration on “painting with light”. Then she asked the students to begin taking their places for the workshop.
Mr. BEY chose one of the medium-sized mausoleums, he didn’t want to compete for space at some of the larger ones. In the beginning, it’s kind of like a waiting game. He kept taking shots and adjusting the camera settings. You’re basically waiting for the sun to down enough to where you get deep, rich colors in the sky, yet still have enough light for the photo. That window of the perfect balance of light is very small, so if you goof around…you just might miss it.
In this first photo, the sun has set and the sky is starting to get a little dark. Notice how dark the mausoleum looks.
This is the first picture where the subject is “painted” with light. The sun needs to sink just a little more, the sky is not quite dark enough.
In just a matter of seconds, the sky’s light can change dramatically. In this photo, the deep, rich blues are starting to make their appearance. There is just a slight bit of light “painted” on the subject.
This photo was taken just seconds after the previous one with no use of outside lighting. The sky is a deeper blue and you can get a sense of just how dark it was. The mausoleum is a mere silhouette.
Now that the sky is in perfect condition, Mr. BEY started to play around with the uplighting on the subject. In this photo you can see the majority of the light is “painted” on the marble stairs and surround walls. I keep calling this one the “headlight” shot. It looks like someone is pulling up in a car to pay a late night visit.
Remember, Mr. BEY is not standing behind the camera at this point, he is walking around in front of the camera with a large flashlight. You don’t see him because the camera’s shutter is set on about 30 seconds and he keeps moving to keep from being detected. With a shutter that slow, the camera will only pick up objects that are stationary.
Very similar settings were used in this shot, however instead of painting the stairs and walls, Mr. BEY focuses his light on the mausoleum itself. I am not sure of the right word to describe this: pretty or ominous?
At this point, almost all of the ambient light was gone from the sky and many of the students began heading out. Wanting to make the very most of his night in the cemetery, Mr. BEY hung out a little longer and got some really dark, kind of creepy shots.
Photos by: CMJ
Ok, this picture totally gives me the heebie jeebies. Notice anything funny about this one?  Mr. BEY’s large flashlight died and he had to switch to the LED maglight. Thank goodness he had a back up!
He had lots of the eerie blue photos and frankly, they darn right scare me. Mr. BEY kept calling them Smurf houses, and when you put it that way…they’re kind of funny.

Posted 7/30/10, Topic: Blog

  • shea
    July 30, 2010 at 9:13 pm |

    I love this! These are fabulous. I love Oakland and hope to make it back for another tour soon. The only experience I've had with "painting" is writing my name with a flashlight for fun. That's nothing compared to this. He did a great job! So cool!

  • Natalie at Our Old Southern House
    August 3, 2010 at 11:30 pm |

    is he taking a course at showcase? that's where i took my 'painting with light' course. last summer my cousin and i did a bunchy of creepy shots in savannah. if you stand in front of the camera w/the flashlight on your face for 5 sec and then quickly move to another spot and do it again…and again…it looks like there are all these ghosts in the picture. very cool!
    he did a great job, by the way!

  • {BlueEyedYonder}
    August 5, 2010 at 10:38 am |

    The workshop was taught by Pisconeri. They are located in Jasper, GA, but travel around a little for their workshops. We can't wait to play around with this some more…Savannah would be an awesome place for it!

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