All Posts Tagged ‘Canon


Light Painting: What is it?


What is Light Painting and how do I start?

Stay with me here, I will get to that. During the closing of the year, I like to see what my most popular posts were on instagram. (For those of you who are interested, I used you can follow me here: @shootingdave

As you can see, 7 out of the 9 most popular images are light painted. Clearly you guys like those style of images. But what is light painting? What do I need to make one myself?

A light painted image is essentially long exposure where you move single light source around the subject (in this instance a car) highlighting the key areas. To get started you will need a basic understanding of photography and exposure, along with some equipment which bring us onto the next topic.

The Gear…

Starting the in the top left corner and working round clockwise I will talk about the gear I use to make light painted images.

1: The Camera

Any will do so long as you can set all of the functions manually. I use a Canon 5DMk3 which you can buy here.  I will get onto lenses later as I feel that is worth talking about separately.

2: Tripod

As you are going to be taking long exposures up to 30 seconds, I recommend you use a sturdy tripod. You don’t want the camera to wobble or shake causing blurry images do you? For years now I have been using Manfortto and their 055XProB has served me well. They have since discontinued it but I would recommend this carbon fibre version of it here.

3: Remote

Why might you want a remote? I try to avoid touching the camera as much as possible. I use the remote to alter the length of exposure and the amount of delay so that I can get into position. If you are a Canon shooter then I cannot recommend this one enough!

4: The Light

Now for the important part, often a closely guarded secret among photographers. I don’t have the budget for the Westcott Ice Light 2 as nice as it might be. So I bought a budget version, I’ve owned for 3 years, flown to 3 countries with it and it has been fine ever since. It is the Magic Tube Light MTL-900 II. A catchy name I will admit. It is branded a number of different ways but works well. It has an orange sleeve which makes the light 3200k and 5500k without. Handy for shooting under street lamps so you have matching colours of light sources.

That is the bare essentials for light painting. However you will need to wait until it is dark.


I wanted to keep this section separate as it is so subjective and location dependant. A great deal of my images are shot on a 35mm lens this one to be specific. I do this so that I can show both the car and the location without distorting the car too much. I have a wider Canon 24mm f/2.8 IS which is great for tight locations all thought it does run the risk of distorting the car. And where space allows it is often nice to use the Canon EF 135mm f/2.0L .

Below are some examples.




The Setup

So now you’ve got the gear, what do you do?

Once you have found your location, you want to wait for dark and get the car into position. Framing up should be no different to any other shoot you do. Find the composition that works for you, looking through the camera to make sure you are happy. Once you have found that sweet spot, grab the tripod and setup the camera.

I set the camera to manual focus and use live view to zoom in and focus. The next thing you are going to want to do is set the camera to bulb mode. You will control the exposure using the remote. If you don’t have a remote, use manual and set your shutter speed accordingly. You want to make sure the shutter speed is long enough for you to walk around the car.

I set the ISO to 100 to make sure the image is clean of sensor noise.  For the aperture, I start at around f/8. All of the car will be in focus and the relatively small aperture should help dial down any ambient light.

I take a test exposure of around 10 seconds to assess the scene. From experience, 10 seconds is long enough for me to move the light source down the side of the car. What you are looking for is minimal ambient light so that you can introduce your own light into the scene. If it is too bright, choose a smaller aperture (f/11 for instance). You could also shorten the exposure time but you will need to make sure it is long enough for you to walk around the car.

Once you have balanced the base exposure it is time to start lighting. Set the camera to a delay or get someone else to fire it for you, get into position, turn the light on and walk down the side of the car. Once the exposure is complete, come back to the camera and review your image.*

Try not to light yourself or point the light at the camera as you will get flaring.**

Once you’re happy with that side of the car, move onto another side. Keep repeating the process until you’re satisfied with what you have captured.

*most cameras allow you to change the image review time. I set mine to “hold” so that the image stays on the back of the camera until I shoot another exposure. This avoids me having to touch the camera and potentially move it.

**also try wearing dark clothing, cameras record light and not dark.

Finishing up

Once you are done with the shoot and you’re back home ready to edit, you will want to blend these images together using Adobe Photoshop or something similar. I think that will have to wait for another guide as it is quite a length process to do.

What did you think of this guide? Was there any areas that you would like to understand more of? I considering filming or time-lapsing a shoot. Would you like to see a speed edit or walkthrough when I get the images into photoshop?

I’d love to hear your feedback.





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Who doesn’t love an upgrade?

For whatever reason you may face, at some point you are likely to upgrade your photography gear. Be it because you obsess about having the latest and greatest gear or because you simply need a tool to do a specific job. The feeling of actually purchasing new equipment is a good one. I am not one to do these things on an impulse. I agonise over the decision to part with hard earned cash for inanimate objects, not matter how fancy they might be. I am going to walk you through some of my latest purchases from earlier this year and the reasons for me acquiring them.

MacBook Pro 13″

For years now I have been wanting to be able to edit photos whilst away from home. In fact ever since I started travelling for photography I have loathed the idea of waiting to get back home and edit. I would sit quietly sipping beer in the hotel whilst my friends sat and edited photos shot that day. I would grow envious and started wishing the rest of the trip away so that I could post a picture. This established enough of a need for me to want to get a laptop. Coupled with the fact that my PC at home really was on it’s last legs.

At the time, I wasn’t bothered what camp I would fall into, PC or Mac, I don’t buy into brand loyalty or fan-boyism. I use PC’s for work, always have. I genuinely couldn’t make up my mind as to which one I wanted so I treated each day as if I was buying a Windows laptop and then next day as if I was buying a MacBook. Flipping a coin if you will.

It was through this small mind game that I eventually made my decision to get a 13″ MacBook Pro though. I just felt excited about owning a MacBook.

I was never really satisfied with the build quality of Windows laptops. They were generally speaking cheaper and I felt that reflected in the build quality. Not much to criticise but considering I will be owning this for a few years, I couldn’t have a squeaking, flexing chassis to work on. As an ex-engineer, this was a big no no for me.

3 years it took me to make up my mind and genuinely couldn’t be happier. I opted to go for the non touch bar and specced up the RAM and CPU to 16Gb and an i7.

Canon 300mm f/4 L IS USM

Until recently, my longest lens was the Canon 135mm f/2 L. Although a stunning lens, it really wasn’t too short for Motorsport photography. I was lucky enough to have some long term reviews of Canon’s 300mm lenses. I did a review for Cafetography on youtube. I simply did not have the budget for the big 300mm f/2.8 L IS USM for realistically I was looking at the 300mm f/4 L IS USM.

Not only did this save a great deal of money but it also saved my back from carrying it around all weekend. This is the lens that I use 90% of the time when at the track. Sure a zoom lens would be more versatile but I have always preferred to shoot with primes. It’s just down to personal preference.

When a good friend mentioned that he was selling his 300mm f/4 L I pretty much snapped off his arm in buying it off of him. 300mm fits nicely into my lens collection (35mm – 50mm – 135mm) giving me enough focal ranges to cover 90% of what I need. The only gap was something wider which brings us on to my next acquisition.

Canon 24mm f/2.8 IS USM

If your memory lasts more than a sentence then there was a weak spot in my current arsenal. I needed a wide angle. I found when shooting a lot of car interiors both for Fueltopia and work that the 35mm wasn’t quite wide enough to get all that I wanted in. I also wanted something that could capture more of the environment and could be used for landscape photography. When I shot the cover image for this article I borrowed my friends Canon 16 – 35 mm f/2.8L III USM lens. A stunning lens, huge versatility and insanely wide at 16mm.

It was just a bit much of a stretch for me. I prefer longer focal lengths and didn’t really fancy dropping a huge amount of money on a lens that I knew I wouldn’t use all that much. The Canon17-40 mm f/4.0 L USM was also considered. Offering much the same in terms of focal range albeit with a slower aperture. I have used the 17-40L many times before but I never really loved it. I didn’t really fancy having a lens that had a maximum aperture of f/4 either as I would often be shooting handheld in low light. Image stabilisation was something that I convinced myself that I needed for some arbitrary reason.

Thoughts moved towards the Canon 24mm f/2.8 IS USM. I began watching second hand sites like a hawk. Pricing was pretty competitive and when one came up for a price that I was happy with, I jumped at it. Oh and it also came with the £50 lens hood which is a bonus.


For now, that is all the gear I need. Well, until I convince myself otherwise.



Published Work – Gatebil Magazine

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2016 has been a year of polar opposites, work wise I have been incredibly busy, photographically I have been very quiet. I have shot much less but what I have shot has gone much further. Because I have been shooting for clients and not myself a lot of my work has remained on hard drives until they have been published. In July I attended an event called GATEBIL at Rudskogen Motorsenter in Norway. If that name rings a bell, it is because I went last year which you can see here. This is hands down my favourite motorsport event I have ever had the pleasure of attending and this year I got the extreme honour of shooting for their own magazine, predictably called GATEBIL MAGAZINE. I was tasked to shoot several feature cars, one of which is this super rare, Steatlh B7 which is one of one! What I didn’t know until this month was that I made the front cover. And I don’t mean I got a small picture on the front cover…I GOT THE MAIN IMAGE! Thanks guys! Anyway, here is a few images that didn’t make the cut. Thanks to Jan Øivind Ruud and Team RR for being so helpful during the shoot and thanks to Kaj Alver for getting me the gig.













Postcards from LA


Now I’m not going to pretend that I am anything other than lucky. I am not going to pretend to be one of these people that has a boat load of money and can pop off to the other side of the world whenever I see fit. No, I am lucky. Late November I got the message that there would be a possibility that I’d be heading to LA for a photoshoot with Honda for work. I tried to down play the whole idea as in our industry, these decisions have a tendency to be reversed. Quietly however, I was screaming like a little girl inside. I held my breath until the first week of December when things like flights, hotels and cars were being booked. Holy fuck, I was actually going!

Camera gear was the first thing I packed and repacked, then passport, then toiletries and then clothes. I was going from England where the average temperature has been around 12 degrees Celsius to LA where it was hovering around 22! NICE. I was also going to having a 2 and a half days down time whilst out there so it wouldn’t all be work. I was so stoked about getting the opportunity to drive around and explore. Like I said, LUCKY.

Like any trip, I always carry my eyefi card so I can ping snaps from my camera to instagram whilst on the move. I tend to use VSCOcam to edit the pictures and I liked them so much I made a new preset in Lightroom to mimic the look using Kodak Gold 200 as a base. Enough chat, here’s some pictures.
































It is safe to say that in the 5 days that I was there, I fell for the place. I wasn’t that blown away from it when I first landed but after spending time, speaking to people, travelling around, trying out the food (and beer) that I loved it. I would quite happily move there. There is so much to see and do and having a beach, mountains, big roads, deserts and all the sunshine you could want, why wouldn’t I want to be there.

LA, I’ll be back.

Oh and if you liked this, why not check out;
Postcards from Salou
Postcards from New York
Postcards from New York II



Shooting Dave – behind the scenes

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I am working on a little series at the moment to try and create a character from my screen name “Shooting Dave”. The idea is that this character will look like an assassin or a hitman or a spy of some sort. So far I had only created one, now I have two. Below is the first one I did, as if it had been a shoot out. Note the details like the empty film cartridges on the floor instead of bullet casings. And yes that is both me and me in the scene.


The narrative behind this one is that you are the viewer, or the subject being photographed. This will be your perspective. I, Shooting Dave am pointing my camera (gun) at you. Don’t worry, it ain’t that sinister, a long with the word play on Shooting Dave, I also have a camera that resembles a gun, a Zenit Photosniper, I have added a picture below to show you what it looks like.

Photo 30-06-2015, 09 40 53

Pretty cool huh?! Right I had the idea for this, I just needed to get the lighting to where I wanted it, it isn’t just a case of setting up the lights and BOOM – HEADSHOT. I needed to do a little bit of exploration so the following images are me trying out the lights in different positions.


First up the key light was off to the left, I admit, I did like the light on hand arm but I was unhappy with the light on the subject. You can also see that I would need to tweak the pose as to not cover up too much of my face.


I then moved the light to the right of the camera which gave more light to the camera/gun and the subject. Better but a little flat. Also the background was just too open for my liking.


I then boomed the light keeping the light stand in the same position, this put the light pretty much level with me as well as adding more shadow across the face. The light was also subtly lighting the camera/gun too. However the barrel of the gun wasn’t that well described so I knew I needed some fill.


Direct light would have been too harsh for the scene so I put a flash gun on the floor and bounced it off of a white wall to give some reflected lighting to the camera, it works quite well here.


For this one, I was playing with the power of the fill flash, I turned it down to 1/64th but thought it was too subtle.


Final. I upped the power on the fill flash and the tilted the key light a little more towards me help smooth off some the shadows. And that is it. There is a lighting diagram below to help illustrate what was done as well as the settings used.


Some of you may have noticed that I didn’t shoot wide open for this and I did that for a number of reasons. First of all, this is a self portrait, focusing was pretty hard so to give myself a better chance of getting a usable shot, I stopped down to f/2.8 to get more depth of field. Also if I had shot wide open, I would have been too far out of focus and any expression would have been a blurry mess of bokeh. I like to think that the depth of field allows for nice separation of the gun to subject but also keeping some of the expression and emotion there.

If you like this I will show you more behind the scenes in the future.