Light Paint Spirography - My First Light Painting

I Paint With Light – My Photography Journey So Far

As a teenager I had a little 35mm, fixed focal length point and shoot camera. I really enjoy taking photos of things that interested me when I could afford film and processing costs. It was a great challenge to find the ideal spot to take a shot as that was about the only experimentation I could do with that camera given there was no settings to change.

Less than 10 years after that first simple camera photography in the digital age was in full swing. After a lot of research I bought a Fuji S5500. This camera opened up a lot of more scope for experimentation as well as laying the foundation for using settings beyond the automatic mode. I only got as far as shutter and aperture priority but I got to understand these concepts as well as create some interesting images.

Some time passed and a nice little Canon IXUS compact was added to my digital camera collection, but I really wanted more. Digital SLRs had become more economical and attainable so I ponied up to JB Hi-Fi with a wad of cash and got my first DSLR, the Canon 450D. This camera was mainly used for shooting family moments and sport but it opened many more creative possibilities and night photography was one that interested me, especially since my days were full with non photography related pursuits. Night photography opened me up to slow shutter speeds which in turn piqued my interest in light trails from cars, fireworks and carnival rides.

Within my photography pursuits I was getting some good response to my sport photography, mainly in the BMX racing world. I was shooting a lot of BMX and people wanted to buy my photos so I made a big call and decided that I wanted to try going pro…well, semi-pro at least. I invested heavily in a Canon 1D Mark IV and L-series lenses and a bunch of other equipment. One piece of kit I had to have in the upgrade was a new shutter release cable as my interest in slow shutter speed photography was still simmering away on the back burner.

Being a semi-pro photographer with a day job and little investment in anything other than equipment was a real challenge (side note: If you are looking to go pro with your photography I would suggest you invest in someone else handle things like web site design and management as well as sales and marketing if you can). Eventually I had to let go of that dream as my day job of being an engineer had to be the priority. My attention returned to shooting ‘for me’ and that meant the professional, high-speed action of sport photography gave way to more experimental photography with shallow depths of field or slow shutters.

In this time frame I came across an old post on Digital Photography School about light painting parabolas. Having seen light painting before and an interest in slow shutter photography I figured this was a good project to start my light painting journey with. It was a fun and interesting exercise and I decide to buy some different light sources, or tools, to experiment with. If you follow along this journey with me you will get to see all of the light painting tools I have in my bag of tricks.

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