Playing With Light


zoom burst



I’ve been pondering all day what to blog about while sorting through all those files. Then it came to me. The primary necessity for photography or art is light. So that’s what I’m looking at here. I love light. In fact I’m prone to SAD in winter, I need it so much. In photography, the light, as we all know, can make or break a shot.

I also love fire. Fire IS light. So I played have played with it quite a lot. Candles, fires, fireworks. They all attract and delight us but aren’t easy to shoot well. And there’s always the question of what mood do you want the finished shot to have? This can affect the angle of the light and the shot and aperture settings as well as choice of subject matter. In the first photo, Zoom Burst, I simply Focussed on my light ball with the camera on quite a long exposure and zoomed out with the lens as the exposure was running. If you have a point and shoot, I’m afraid you won’t be able to do this one. But for those with DSLRs, this is fun to try.

In this next one, I was simply working towards very ambient, quiet images for an agency who sell photos for book covers. They wanted soft, darkish pictures that could be used for fiction.I liked the shadows cast by the candle and the softness of the overall image. I played around with the colour settings in Photoshop as rendering natural colours was not the focus here.


Candle Sconce

The next shot is totally different. Here we see a friend wielding a length of Kevlar rope, soaked in paraffin and lit. He then whirrs it around to give a brilliant light show. I set my camera up, resting it on the back of a chair and took long exposures. In Photoshop, I used curves to accentuate the light and lose the surrounding grass etc so that you get the vividness of the light show without the distracting background.


Light Show

And below, you see an extract of the flames because I zoomed in as much as I could. I stayed well back physically, of course. My friends playing with fire should be treated with caution. 🙂 Once back at Photoshop I simply boosted the contrast a little so you can see the patterns. This has been used as a background shot.


Zooming In


There are many, many more ways of playing with light, of course. There are no sunrises and sets here (except my parting shot). No clever sparkles or smoke glares. But there are a few ideas to get your juices flowing and, as it is Saturday night, I’m off through the gate into the sunset.


See You Soon!








20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Miss Morgans 365 Days of Photos
    Dec 11, 2010 @ 19:35:34

    I have been wanting to “paint with light”. Im excited to try it now using some of your ideas! The Zoom Burst is beautiful!


    • chriscaff
      Dec 11, 2010 @ 19:44:15

      Thanks Miss Morgan. Do you have a first name? The zoom burst was done with a plasma light, set on full then zoomed. It’s all good fun and sooner or later you can get some very creative results. Try zoom bursting with candles etc, too.


  2. 47whitebuffalo
    Dec 11, 2010 @ 19:59:07

    Your fire zoom shot is LOVELY!!!!!!!
    Yes, we’re always courting light. Hmm.
    Happy trails through the gate.


  3. leicaman
    Dec 11, 2010 @ 21:45:50

    Light is the essence of all photography and your post is quite reflective! I enjoyed all your images but particularly zooming in…keep up the good work!


  4. thedreamwords
    Dec 12, 2010 @ 02:07:50

    These are dope.


  5. janechese
    Dec 12, 2010 @ 03:17:24

    Thanks for sharing the technique of timed zoom-want to try that! And like the shot, too.


  6. photosbymartina
    Dec 12, 2010 @ 04:24:48

    Amazing photographs, I’m so glad I took a look around, I love the last sunset photo, love the perspective with from the fence.


    • chriscaff
      Dec 12, 2010 @ 12:40:12

      Thanks Martina. I like your cityscapes, too. I’m happier in the countryside, but it’s wonderful to see what other people’s worlds are like.


  7. best artistic
    Dec 12, 2010 @ 04:29:04

    a very interesting article ….
    thank you for giving good info.
    I will advise this site to my friends.


  8. ardiansyah
    Dec 12, 2010 @ 07:30:57

    thank’s for the short course and i will try wat you have share


  9. Tracy Vine
    Dec 12, 2010 @ 22:47:58

    Ive just had a look on your blog after you posted on mine. I absolutely love this affect and would like to try this as im currently working on a photography project at Uni. If you have any tips I would be most grateful.


    • chriscaff
      Dec 12, 2010 @ 22:54:32

      Which effect Tracy? If it’s zoom burst, I’ve used a little plasma light, focused in as close as I could, set up the camera on a tripod to keep it steady and set a long exposure time. Then,when I pressed the trigger, I zoomed out from the ball and hoped for the best. This is one of about 20 shots i took before I was satisfied with the results. Zooming in in the same way can also be effective. Good luck with your course and you’re welcome to visit again.
      If it’s one of the other shots, let me know…


  10. Robin
    Dec 14, 2010 @ 02:21:39

    Very cool shots! The zoom burst and light show photos in particular are standouts for me.

    I like that I often learn something when I visit your blog. 🙂


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