Light Painting in Wiltshire

Light Painting, Avebury Stones, March 2012

Details: Phase One c/w IQ160, 35mm, 1/30 sec, f14, 200 ISO, no filtration, 1 flash

I always relish a challenge and this was certainly just that. Leaving home at 01.00 to meet the team then drive 140 miles (225 km) with a car full of Elinchrom Ranger Quadra lights, the Phase One camera system and a Nikon to shoot the time lapse we headed out along the M4 away from London. These sort of shoots are always a gamble as the weather or the light doesn’t always work out so I need a head full of optional ideas ‘just in case’.

On this day good fortune was with us. Though the previous day had been very warm and overnight the temperature had fallen considerably causing for a damp atmosphere we weren’t greeted with dense mist as can often form as dawn approaches.

We reached Avebury at 03.45 and were set up by 04.30 with the Nikon already runing in repeat mode to provide over 1000 jpeg stills as content for the DV below and a Sony digital recorder fitted with an external mic to pick up background sound.

My plan was to do a light painting exercise of the stones using the Ranger kits. This is a technique I first learnt as an assistant 30 years ago when we would light industrial machinery in engineering works using just one photoflood tungsten head. I knew that the moment was essential – getting the right balance between a brightening sky before the sun rose whilst having sufficient darkness to make the power/intensity of the flash pull the stones out from the shadows. I shot a total of 23 frames, the entire shoot was completed by 06.45 and we got to Marlborough in time for breakfast at 08.30. A very productive night and day’s photography.

Why not watch the video to get a feel what it was like and for a sense of what happens on Shadows and Light workshops? Listen to the crows greeting the dawn, they always know best.

Time lapse video

Shadows & Light video page


Filed under Lighting

12 responses to “Light Painting in Wiltshire

  1. Terence jones

    A great photo.

  2. Great shoot. Love the detail. Wish I had been there, it would have been amazing!

  3. paul

    Beautiful pic – does it matter when the flash goes off – front or rear curtain? It has inspire dme to try thos on the fishing shacks here in the French oyster beds!

    • Using the Phase One with that lens you have a between the lens shutter so there is no option to do rear curtain synch. For this shoot I had the front 3 Ranger heads synched using a radio trigger & the rear 2 heads were connected using IR receivers. I had to do this because the distance from camera (which carried the radio transmitter) & the 2 far heads must have been too great & also there was no clear line of sight. I therefore had to use 2 extra spare flash heads (out of sight behind the stones but able to ‘see’ the front lights) which in turn triggered the Rangers that are lighting the rear stones. Therefore a total of 7 flash heads were needed to achieve this shot.

  4. Cheers for the info Jules. Keep me posted on what you’re up to.

  5. Guglielmo Galvin

    A beautiful result Julian

  6. Went to Avebury once – a group of us were setting out to walk the Ridgeway Path. It made a deep impression on me – I found it more impressive than Stonehenge. I’ve been determined to go back ever since but haven’t got round to it yet!

    • I agree with you 100%, far more atmospheric than Stonehenge and, unlike the later, not surrounded with a fence so you can touch the stones.
      I’m off down that way again this weekend & providing it doesn’t turn to rain I’ll make the sone kind of shot at Wayland’s Smithy on the Ridgeway, possibly at the Uffington White Horse then go to Dorset for dawn at Knowlton.
      Heck of a lot of lights to hump around though!
      Watch out for some posts next week.

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