Brian's Photo Blog — Article 40
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The 60-Second Exposure Results
Monday 12 December 2011   —   Category: Shooting
I've really been having photographic fun the past few weeks as I have been working on the 60-second exposure challenge. Shortly after the challenge was issued, the idea of light painting came to mind. I searched for that term in Google Images, and one of the results was a picture of a bike that had been light-painted with a sparkler. As soon as I saw that, I thought to myself, “Wow! That’s awesome! I can do that!”

Fortunately, we had a couple of packs of sparklers left over from the Fourth of July. So I positioned my daughter Olivia’s bike, positioned my camera on a tripod and set the intervalometer for a 60-second exposure. Then I turned off the lights, lit a sparkler, opened the shutter, and set to work moving the sparkler over all the edges of the bike.

It turned out to be harder than I imagined to get a good shot. Sometimes I outlined the bike too slowly, and other times too quickly. Sometimes there were interesting sparks shooting off the sparkler and bouncing on the cement floor, and other times there weren’t. Sometimes I outlined the bike precisely, sometimes sloppily. Sometimes I stayed in one position for too long, and then would show up in the photo. It was quite difficult to outline the bike precisely, with nice bouncing sparks, at the proper speed so I didn’t finish too soon or too late, and keep moving, all in the same shot! And each time I gave it a go, the garage would fill up with smoke, and I would have to open the garage door for a few minutes to clear out the air!

After quite a number of attempts spread out over three days, I finally called it quits! Here you can see the best photo of the lot — click on it to see it larger. I’m quite pleased with the results.

Next I did a different type of light painting. This time I set up the camera in my backyard, facing north. Once again, I opened up the camera shutter for the required 60 seconds. While it was open, I took my two million candlepower spotlight and shone it on the tree in the middle as well as on the grass. The glow in the sky in the right-hand part of the picture is from the lights of Albany — we live on the southwestern edge of town. I was particularly pleased with how the stars came out.

My next idea was to take some 60-second exposures around the town of Albany. I went out one day — during the day — to scout out some location and take some test photos to practice the composition I might use. That same evening, I headed out around 5:00 PM — just after sunset — to see what I could capture.

First I took some traffic photos at a certain intersection, but they didn’t turn out very good. Then I went downtown to first street and got a few nice shots, which you can see on this page. I particularly like the photos of the beautifully-restored old Pfeiffer building — the orange glow contrasts wonderfully with the dusky dark-blue sky. And the moon sitting right on top of the highest ornament on the peak of the roof is just icing on the cake!

Next stop was the Albany train station, where I got some shots of the tall, illuminated clock tower, and a fountain. You can find the three resulting photos here.

My final attempt at 60-second exposures was right here in my own neighborhood, where I drove around and took pictures of some houses decorated with Christmas lights. They came out all right — nothing too spectacular. But at least it was good practice!

Well, I've run out of ideas, so that’s going to bring my participation in the 60-second exposure challenge to an end. All of the photos I took are located in the Night & Low Light 2011 photo album.
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 40
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