Light Painting a B-17

From the Best of Mark Toal

Light painting - Mark Toal

I’ve always wanted to try light painting so when I saw this World War II B-17 bomber that was located just south of Portland, Oregon I knew it was my type of subject. I called by friend Gregg who has done some light painting and we headed over on a night just before sunset.

brinkmanSince the plane was fairly wide, I used my Panasonic Lumix GH3 with the Lumix 7-14mm lens (at 7mm.) To find the correct exposure for the background and surroundings. I determined the exposure—20 seconds at f/16 and ISO 125—by using the camera’s built in light meter in Manual mode. This way I knew that the only thing I had to worry about was how much light I wanted to add to the plane. To do that, I used a Brinkman Max Million spotlight.

With the camera on a tripod. I set the manual exposure to 20 seconds at f/16 and hit the shutter. During the 20 seconds I walked around in front of the plane with the spotlight and painted light. As long as you keep moving you won’t show up in the image.

I did some minor highlight and shadow adjustments in Adobe Lightroom to balance the light in the image, otherwise it’s very similar to the RAW file that came directly out of the camera. Tip: Shooting at f/16 causes the star pattern in the lights. Try it at night even if you’re not light painting.

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