Doug Henson, Painting with Light

My friend, Howard Hirano, took a photography class at our local junior college. He studied a technique called painting with light. During his study, he received instruction not only from his photography teacher, Jason Anaya, but also one of the pioneers of the technique, Eric Curry.

It turns out that a Falco located in a dimly lit hangar was a perfect setting for his class project. We started the photo shoot about sunset, which provided the overhead lighting that you can see coming through the skylight. The complete shoot took a couple of hours. We finished it in total darkness.

Howard used a Nikon digital camera that was set up on a tripod in the far corner of the hangar. Then he took about 65 individual shots without moving the camera or subject positions. While the shutter was open (typically 10 seconds), I used a light source to paint a specific area of the Falco. For instance, images were made of the leading edge of the left wing, the empennage, or the propeller blade. We used a flashlight, standard camera flash, and a fluorescent shop light during the light painting process. That handsome mechanic lying under the Falco was highlighted separately and added as an overlay during post processing.

Once the shots were downloaded from his camera, Howard then spent many hours on his computer with Adobe Photoshop creating a composite.

Doug Henson


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