Let’s Swing Into It!
If you are fascinated with creating geometric images, these light paintings (physiograms) offer a way to let gravity and a natural pendulum motion do the work for you.
Here are some basic set up suggestions:
- Be in a darkened room.
- Swing a light from a string attached to the ceiling. ( I use a Maglite Solitaire model K3AO16 with bulb cover removed.)
- Position your camera on a tripod under the swinging light and aim it up at the ceiling to record the path of the light.
- Set shutter speed to B (bulb).
- Use a wide angle lens ( I used a 14-24mm).
- Set aperture to f16 or smaller to give your image a black background.
- Use a remote shutter release and expose for 30 seconds to 5 minutes.
My simpler physiograms were created with a swinging light and the physiograms with finer detail were created with the camera on a platform that swung under a fixed overhead maglite. In other words, instead of a light swinging above a stationary camera, the camera swung below a stationary light. The camera platform I built was fashioned after a pendulum-based drawing board which was initially designed to draw harmonographs. Needless to say, this platform took up a fair bit of space in my basement while I was creating these images.
Develop a Style
Expect to take several images to get the proper exposures and you can vary how you swing the light for different results. For a change in perspective, position the camera off to one side to get an asymmetrical image of the path of the light. Later, in Photoshop, I took one of these off centered light traces and copied and flipped the images to create a butterfly.
Now it’s time to play.
You can experiment a bit by placing colored gels over your lens during all or part of the swing. Also, once you have some images , try making a composite of various images with flips and blends and other filters available in your post-processing software. My most complex creations were a blend of several exposures of the same swing. I loaded these exposures into Photoshop as layers and then colored and blended each layer. The “Apple For the Teacher” image was made this way.
Check the Archives on Denise Ippolito’s Site
This article was first published in Denise Ippolito’s Creative Photography eMiniMagazine.
While the e-Mag is no longer published you can still find the archives for the articles at: Denise Ippolito – A Creative Adventure
This RefineEdge Photography Blog contains more articles I wrote for the eMiniMagazine. Just look in the sidebar for the eMag category.