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light painting photography – photo editing technique

The extent of my formal education for art/photography is a Digital Art course at Wake Forest University my senior year and Photography 101 my freshman year of high school. I was also the graphics designer for my high school newspaper, but that wasn’t instructional…it was simply a “me coming up with editorial cartoons and story illustrations for each issue” class, which was also a dream come true :) Best.class.ever.

I say this to mean that I am basically self-taught. The internet is an amazing tool and you can find so many incredible how-to tutorials, tips & tricks, before & after…SO very helpful for people (like me) starting out on a new hobby or technique.

Yesterday I discovered Eric Curry’s tutorial videos on youtube and was totally blown away. This inspired me to take light painting to a whole different level. Of course I could not wait to try out a similar technique last night. This is the final result, and steps showing how I put it all together:

light painting photography - reading spot

I had already decided that this was the scene I wanted to capture so I set up my camera and tripod to compose the background image. I knew that I would need to take this shot just before sundown in order to get the right exposure for the windows. I set the focus point up in the spot where I knew my husband would be sitting and then decided to use a wider aperture so that the other areas were not in sharp focus. NOTE: I also taped off around the legs of my tripod just in case I stumbled and shifted it (yes, I’m clumbsy in the dark…) – if I didn’t have the exact same tripod position from the earlier sunset shot then my entire image technique would be ruined :-/

This is the original background image:

light painting photography - editing technique

Settings here are:

f/4

1/100

iso 100

12mm

I cleaned up the cloudiness on the back window but other than that this is SOOC.

For the rest of the images I had to wait for the sun to go down completely.

I first photographed the Christmas lights overhead . I actually didn’t “paint” the lights, instead I quickly tapped the plug into the socket so the lights only blinked for a second to avoid overexposing my image.

light painting photography - editing technique

My settings for the rest of these images are

f/6.3

8 sec

iso 100

12mm

I made the aperture smaller to get the areas I wanted to paint into focus. Plus I needed to lengthen the shutter speed to have enough time to light my objects, so it was a necessary adjustment in order to not overexpose my images.

Next I painted light on the lamp:

light painting photography - editing technique

then the chairs in the foreground:

light painting photography - editing technique

and finally my husband :)

light painting photography - editing technique

For each of these areas I had to take 3-5 shots to get the light painted on exactly like I wanted it…I just check the viewfinder after each shot and it’s pretty easy to tell if you got it or not. I guess the tricky thing with this technique is being able to merge the areas together in your head and envision the finished project while your images are still inside the camera :)

All my images are shot in RAW and I converted the white balance to tungsten. I bumped up the fill light slightly as well.

Here is my layer mask progression:

light painting photography - editing technique

light painting photography - editing technique

light painting photography - editing technique

light painting photography - editing technique

light painting photography - editing technique

The only other edit I made in photoshop was a levels adjustment to bring the whites up to scale.

Here is the final again:

light painting photography - reading spot

I’m still brand-spanking new at this, but I absolutely love the look it creates. The patches of light are uniform yet unexpected and not from one constant direction or source. Pure awesomeness.

The entire process (minus waiting for the sun to go down) took me about 30 minutes. If I had chosen a scene with more than 4 lighted areas it would have lengthened the process of course, but the end result is worth it.

In my next shot I will definitely try to add more light painted areas. Starting out with 4 was perfect…enough to make the photo interesting but not too many to overwhelm me. I think a gradual increase is going to be the only way to go in learning this technique!

I hope this photo editing tutorial on light painting has been helpful! :)

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Beth Wade is a Charlotte, NC photographer serving North & South Carolina, Lake Wylie, Fort Mill, Rock Hill, Gaston and York County.

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photography bucket list – FULL double rainbow!

Unexpectedly tonight I checked off number 14 on my photography bucket list : a FULL rainbow. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen a full rainbow in my *lifetime*…but amazingly enough tonight after the rain my husband said “now where’s that rainbow?”, and he called it.

I ran out to our dock and tried to get a few shots but quickly realized that this might be my chance to get a full rainbow if I hustled. I ran over to our neighborhood waterfront park and voila! It started out a single full rainbow, and then kept getting brighter and then the 2nd one appeared. Incredible.

I stood knee high in the lake (in the rain) to get this shot. My wide angle wasn’t quite wide enough so I finally decided shoot both ends and merge it in photoshop. Here is #14 & 14.5: a full rainbow and a double full rainbow!

full double rainbow photo

and a few more taken from our dock and along my way to the park:

full double rainbow photo

full double rainbow photo

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Beth Wade is a Charlotte, NC photographer serving North & South Carolina, Lake Wylie, Fort Mill, Rock Hill, Gaston and York County.

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photography bucket list – FiREWORKS! check!

I think it’s safe to say that I can check off another one of my photography bucket list  shots – fireworks…check!

The show was awesome. An added bonus was the MOON. Y’all know that the moon and I have a special bond…well last night just sealed the deal even more <3

To take these shots I set up my tripod, d7000 camera settings were:

~between f/22 (at dusk) and f/11 (at nightfall)…

~bulb mode: used my remote and experimented with the shutter speeds throughout the show. Generally I would count between 6 and 15 seconds, then choose a release time based on the brightness of the bursts. Also tried to hit it shut right after they had faded out.

iso 100

I switched between my Tokina 12-24 f4 and my Nikkor 55-300 (a huge bug crawled in my damn camera too…HUGE!  not cool).

Here are my results! I bumped the fill light and vibrance up on a few in RAW but other than that these are SOOC:

fireworks on july 4th

fireworks on july 4th

fireworks on july 4th

fireworks on july 4th

fireworks on july 4th

fireworks on july 4th

fireworks on july 4th

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Beth Wade is a Charlotte, NC photographer serving North & South Carolina, Lake Wylie, Fort Mill, Rock Hill, Gaston and York County.

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photography bucket list – pre-fireworks practice shots

I’m gearing up for the big fireworks show tomorrow! As one of my photography bucket list  shots, I had already planned on taking some but my shots will actually be used in our local paper this year too. Sweet!

I figured I’d try to get a few night shots to practice and sure enough there were boats out, speeding by and a few fireworks going off across the lake (behind trees, but still good practice).

These were at a long focal length and a bit too dark tonight, so I pulled up the fill light and levels a bit. Otherwise SOOC, settings:

Nikon d7000

f/11

20 sec

iso 100

Can’t wait for the BIG SHOW tomorrow night! Stay tuned for pics :))

fireworks photography

fireworks photography

fireworks photography

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Beth Wade is a Charlotte, NC photographer serving North & South Carolina, Lake Wylie, Fort Mill, Rock Hill, Gaston and York County.

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photography bucket list – raw emotion: pure unconditional love

My family just got back from our 2nd annual trip to the beach – we had a great time! It’s had to believe that this time last year I was only taking photos with my iphone…I’ve come a long way :) The beach was a great place to experiment with light, lenses and camera angles.

I got several shots that I was really happy with, but only one stood out as the BEST in my mind. When I started my photography bucket list I thought about putting “raw emotion” as one of my photos, but I felt like it was too broad…so I’m going to make classifications for the emotion (b/c it’s my bucket list and I can do what I want to ;)

Number 52 on my photography bucket list  has been added as “raw emotion: pure unconditional love”.

This photo is of my mom (who rarely goes to the beach, which is what prompted me to follow her in the first place…) and my oldest son, William, who is named after my late father. I’ve always felt like my mom and Will share a special connection because of this namesake – as you can see from this photo, they do.

All I did before taking this photo was say to Will, “Can you go give YaYa a kiss?” and this is the magic that resulted:

raw emotion: unconditional love

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Beth Wade is a Charlotte, NC photographer serving North & South Carolina, Lake Wylie, Fort Mill, Rock Hill, Gaston and York County.

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photography bucket list – a really great wedding photo

I took a hella lot of photos 2 weeks ago at my good friend’s wedding. Considering it was my first time shooting that type of event (and the fact that I was a guest, bound to a chair during the ceremony, drinking, socializing and trying to have a good time) I did get some really nice photos.

Number 7 on my photography bucket list  is a really great wedding picture. I probably could have used my double rainbow photo as #7 but I didn’t want to kill 2 birds with one stone – and I’m glad I didn’t.

This image is of the bride and her father dancing at the after dinner party. Now, I was not drunk at this point…but I was not sober either. Thank GOODNESS they danced right at the beginning or else I might have fallen over trying to get this ;)

I just love it. The sharp black and white contrast, the pose, the lights, the subtle arse pat – I feel like it all just works. The only major edit I had to make to this was to remove a sitting lady’s legs which fell below the father of the bride’s right hand.

I hope that I will take another really great wedding photo in my lifetime, but for now this is my pick:

photography bucket list - great wedding photo

See more Dancing Photos

See Ceremony Photos

See Reception Photos

See Dinner Photos

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Beth Wade is a Charlotte, NC photographer serving North & South Carolina, Lake Wylie, Fort Mill, Rock Hill, Gaston and York County.

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photography bucket list – lightning lighting up the sky

I’m finally getting around to a follow up to my original lightning photo post. I have lightning on my photography bucket list  shots, and while these are not the best photos, it’s the first real lightning I’ve ever photographed. I can’t wait for the next storm!

Setting up, testing my exposure, getting rained on:

photography bucket list - lightning

Finally found my hot spot, to the left of my original set up:

photography bucket list - lightning

photography bucket list - lightning

photography bucket list - lightning

photography bucket list - lightning

photography bucket list - lightning

photography bucket list - lightning

photography bucket list - lightning

A double exposure – images 6 & 7 combined:

photography bucket list - lightning

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Beth Wade is a Charlotte, NC photographer serving North & South Carolina, Lake Wylie, Fort Mill, Rock Hill, Gaston and York County.

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photography bucket list – lightning crashes

Holy mother nature! We had us a little storm tonight y’all. I have lightning my photography bucket list  shots, and while this is not the best photo it’s the first real lightning bolt I’ve gotten and I’m pretty excited right now!

I’ve got a few more I’ll post after I sort thru them tomorrow…but this is my favorite at first glance.

SOOC:

photography bucket list - lightning

Nikon d7000

f/6.3

59.6 sec

iso 100

116mm

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Beth Wade is a Charlotte, NC photographer serving North & South Carolina, Lake Wylie, Fort Mill, Rock Hill, Gaston and York County.

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photography bucket list – airplane!

Photographing an up close shot of an airplane is #11 on my photography bucket list  .  My day job office building is very close to the airport and I always notice the planes coming in and taking off.

I was able to get several photos but these are my 2 favorites. I love the shot with the trees in the foreground the best! Also, if you look closely you’ll see that the wheels are coming down to land on these images. I’ll most likely try for another airplane photo in the future but I was excited to get these today.

photography bucket list - airplane landing

photography bucket list - airplane landing

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Beth Wade is a Charlotte, NC photographer serving North & South Carolina, Lake Wylie, Fort Mill, Rock Hill, Gaston and York County.

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light painting photography – evening at the lake

Here is my second attempt at light painting on a grand scale. I was thinking as I was shooting it that this was going to be a lost cause (I really need to invest in a bigger light…). Luckily I was able to salvage many of the areas by using fill light on my RAW images. So, it’s not exactly what I had in my head but hey, it’s good practice for next time :)

light painting photography - evening at the lake

Background:

f/16

13 sec

iso 100

12mm

Layers:

f/16

30 sec

iso 100

12mm

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Beth Wade is a Charlotte, NC photographer serving North & South Carolina, Lake Wylie, Fort Mill, Rock Hill, Gaston and York County.

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