I don’t write about my personal work much, but I’m going to talk about it today.
I’ve been passionate about photography for 40+ years now. My love of photography started at Stroudsburg High School and has continued through my life. Along the way I’ve done a lot of different things to expand my knowledge of the craft and art.
I’d try things that other photographers wouldn’t try. In the early days, there were a lot of darkroom projects where I would push the limits of film and printing. I worked using the “zone” system, developed by Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and others. I shot with panoramic cameras that used a “swinging” lens to expose a wide strip of film. I captured some really cool images using infrared film, which was really pretty edgy in the ’80’s and ’90’s.
Over the years there were sheet film cameras, press cameras, pinhole cameras, roll film cameras, and 35mm film cameras. There was even a home built wood camera that used sheet film.
It’s fair to say that my passion for photography has always existed. And still does.
For the past couple of years I’ve been passionate about “light painting”. An image that is light painted is created by using very precise lighting to bring out details that simply wouldn’t be available any other way. And it creates images that have a look that cannot be duplicated using simple filters or quick shooting.
Light paintings use many techniques I learned throughout the years exploring my passion for photography.
My current project is a “rat rod” built by Calvin Schoch. For those who are unfamiliar, here is a definition of what a rat rod is, courtesy of Wikipedia:
“A rat rod is a style of hot rod or custom car that, in most cases, imitates (or exaggerates) the early hot rods of the 1940s, 1950s, and early-1960s. The style is not to be confused with the somewhat closely related "traditional" hot rod, which is an accurate re-creation or period-correct restoration of a hot rod from the same era.”
Cal’s rat rod, which I light painted, is his second creation. He just started his third. It is very clear that his passion is creating vehicles like this. That’s cool. Everyone needs a passion. In this case my passion is creating art from Cal’s passion!
I contacted Cal and he agreed to allow me to create a light painting of his vehicle. We decided to do the “captures” at Sibum’s Auto Parts, a local auto salvage yard. I’ve known the Sibum family for a long time and knew that they had a row of Studebaker trucks that would make an interesting and relevant background.
The captures were done one evening in May. The capture process took about three hours. Over 100 exposures were created, each one focusing on a particular part of the vehicle or scene.
After that the light painting “build” begins. All of the 100+ images that were captured are carefully optimized for the final result. Then they are combined to “build” the final light painting using digital brushes and custom processes. The process is painstaking. Builds typically take hours and requires artistic decisions for every part of the image. Some areas are worked and reworked several times for best visual effect.
My light painting project of Cal’s rat rod is now nearing completion. All of the image creation which was done with 100+ images is still in the computer. Computer images are great, but you need a computer or other device to look at it. It needs to be printed so that anyone can see it without microchip help.
Nothing beats a metal print for beauty and longevity. They are a relatively new concept in the evolution of photography and many people have never experienced them. They are visually stunning prints which need to be seen is person to be appreciated. In addition to their visual qualities they are also very durable and extremely resistant to fading which makes them truly archival. My light painting of Cal’s rat rod is going to be turned into a museum quality metal print.