I ran across an article on PetaPixel.com about an artist named Eric Staller the other day. There is a technique called “painting with light” that has been popular in the last few years where you take long exposures and move a bright light source around to create light trails – it’s fun and easy to do with modern digital cameras. But Eric was doing it in the 1970s on film, which is a lot more challenging.
With modern digital cameras, you can take your shot and see the results immediately. When you’re shooting on film, you have to know exactly what you’re doing because you don’t see your results until you get the film developed. Digital cameras speed up the learning process this way; you get very quick feedback about your settings. I wonder if this is a good thing. I know I’m not as smart as earlier film photographers because I can rely on my camera to give me instant results, so I can noodle with my settings to get just the effect I want, rather than knowing exactly what settings I need before I ever take the shot.
I tried replicating Eric’s technique on our deck last night and got the exposure below. It’s not quite what I wanted but it is a start. I plan to try some more light painting shots in the near future.