I took a really instructive and entertaining light painting portrait class at Precision Camera, nearly two weeks ago. I briefly mentioned it when I talked about my perfectly fun photography day. The confluence of activities was awesome for a photography nerd like me.
I packed my Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II with the Olympus 12-40 f2 Pro lens as my primary. My secondary was the Fujifilm X-T10 with the Fuji 18-55 f2.8-4 lens. Two small cameras and a tripod. I didn’t even need a second camera, but I almost always have more than one camera with me.
Josh Baker was an excellent and energetic instructor who taught at Precision Camera studio. His enthusiasm and instruction never waned during the three-hour class. Brandon was our primary model, and Jess helped out towards the end. The key to this colorful spectacle, as I’ll talk about, is a lightweight LED light wand.
The LED light wand is versatile and can be used in two distinct ways. With regular fast shutter speed, you can light up your model with these colorful lights. Use one or multiple LED wands — here’s an example with three. Get creative and light up the model with wacky combinations, or not. The LED light wands can be set to nearly any color. There’s also a mode that creates standard lighting used for traditional portraits. Note the triangle of lights reflected in Brandon’s eyes.
Here’s a four-light configuration. See the red LED numbers on the wands. Those are used to dial up a particular color.
Lighting up your subject with these lights is easy to understand, and we didn’t spend too long on it. The main part of the class was the light painting effects that you can create with the same lights, with slow shutter speed.
You need a tripod for these light painting effects. Even the excellent Olympus in-body image stabilization is not going to be enough. We shot these for 15 seconds in a nearly dark room. Select a color on the wand and move it around the person, and you get these magical effects. Change colors of the wand and make an image featured at the top.
Between the color selection and movement, there are infinite ways to do this. We spent a long time making lots of shapes — suggesting shapes for the Josh to make and even trying it ourselves. It was fun and easy. After a while, you can make a reasonable guess as to how the pattern will play out.
Just as we mastered the concept of a moving wand around a subject, Josh upped the stakes. He got Jess to move across the room, and Josh followed behind her. It produced this unexpected effect.
Finally, we did a two model portrait with ambient lighting and light painting. The Olympus was locked on the tripod and made the second photo. I used the Fuji to shoot the “B-roll” of the setup.
The LED light wand is a versatile tool. I may play with the light painting, but I’m more interested in using it as a conventional light. It might come in handy during my Drink and Click portrait events. The class costs $200 but you get to keep the $160 Savage RGB Light Painter Pro LED Wand. So basically, for $40, you get a really fun three-hour course. Highly recommended.
Here’s a link to the Precision Camera Light Painting course, if you are interested.
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