I have a friend, Herman, who has a classic car. Herman is my age, more or less, and has had this Firebird since he was in high school. So that means that he has owned it for over 40 years. I asked Herman if he would be interested in having a light painting of his car and he agreed. We met at his house (which is a beautiful log house that he built), examined at the Firebird, decided an angle, and planned a date to do the "captures."
Light painting is a very involved method of photography. It involves dozens, sometimes hundreds, of exposures using multiple light sources. Tall of these exposures allow me to light every aspect of the scene to it's best advantage. One of the cool things about it is that many of the exposures are done with flashlights!
On the designated date I traveled to Herman's house and found that he spent a day detailing the Firebird and it was sitting in his driveway. I had forewarned him that the process would probably take a few hours since I wanted to take pictures in daylight, and throughout dusk so that I had a good sky for behind the house. Herman was prepared. He had a couple of lawn chairs for his wife, Bonnie, and himself and offered me some liquid refreshment. This would be a good shoot!
We made some adjustments for the car position so that the car was sitting nicely in the foreground. I wanted to show the entire house as well as the car, since the house is an important part of his life also. Plus it looks incredible and was going to be a great backdrop.
The first hour or so of the shoot was pretty slow moving. I took exposures mainly for the sky as the sun went down. Once it was sufficiently dark the real fun began. I started with the car, painting with flashlight and a specially designed saber light (that reminds me of Star Wars). I shot a dozen or so exposures of the car, creating the general outline and form first. Then I shot details, like the badges, wheels, interior, etc.
Then I worked on painting the house. Of course, the house is much bigger, so it required higher output lights. I used a Coleman spotting light for much of that. After that there was the landscaping and driveway. Then I went back and worked on finer details throughout the scene.
Throughout the process Herman and Bonnie assisted. Bonnie actually tripped the shutter for all of the exposures! And they told me some pretty cool stories about the car. Because it is a convertible, Herman had one of the coolest rides in high school. As a result it was a part of a lot of good times during those years. After he graduated, Herman started to restore the car with a lot of help from a high school shop teacher (who, incidentally, introduced me to photography and is still a good friend). I also heard a lot of stories about the house, the amount of work that they put into it, and the pride that they have for it. It made for a great time!
I've attached "before and after" version of this image. In future blogs I will discuss more about this process. You can find more before and after pictures in our website at http://www.bender-photo.com/light-paintings. It's really cool and the results are spectacular!