How long does Light Painting take?
It's a question I'm often asked, and a good question it is. One with no real answer. Or several answers, depending on how you look at it. "It depends where you cut it" would be the best answer I could give, however I shall elaborate...
I often take part in a monthly competition, and one of the three themes this month is '10 Second Challenge'. Anyone that knows my work will know that I like longer exposures, often in the 10 to 15 minute range. So a challenge of 10 seconds to me really is just that... A challenge!LED Eddie a little while back to see what could be accomplished in under 30 seconds. He shot a photo of a derelict house after his cable release broke leaving him with no option but to work within the cameras built in 30 second maximum exposure. I liked the idea of the challenge and tried it out with a 30 second exposure of my own.
And to make matters even more complicated, the answers to both meaning of the question can sometimes be the same, and still varied. A well thought out shot can take time to plan and set up, while a shot on the fly can take a matter of minutes from inception to completion.
I tend to favour the longer exposures so I can incorporate a lot into my shot, while making adjustments or even making the whole thing up as I go along. For this reason I prefer darker locations under a dark sky to ensure the sky or surroundings do not burn out. This is a stark contrast to the likes of many other photographers who shoot under the full moon to properly expose a landscape or scene.
So in conclusion the time taken to execute or expose a shot varies dramatically. The real factors that influence the exposure time are mainly two fold; the length of time required to complete all the work, or the time required to properly expose a scene. Which one applies depends upon the photographers style of Light Painting, and in practice both would normally apply to some degree.
If you are new to light painting, or would like to know more about setting up your camera for light painting including shutter time please head over to my camera settings tutorial.
Posted on: Feb 18, 2012