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Light paintings by Jonathan Stenvall

Light paintings with Olympus Live Composite and Live Time.

During the summer and autumn, I experimented a lot with night photography and light paintings. It is mainly because it is so much fun and a photo genre with endless possibilities limited only by your imagination.

What do you need?

The requirement for these images is really only an Olympus camera, tripod, a relatively long shutter speed and a light source. Before live exposure seen on the screen, the problem I experienced with long shutter speeds and why I often avoided that type of photography was the long process of exposure and noise reduction before you actually got to see the end result. Small mistakes often meant you had to start again.

With Olympus Live Composite and Live Time, you can see in real time how the image is built and that does make the process much more efficient and fun.

E-M1  X • M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO • 95sec • F14 • ISO200

This picture was created with Live Composite in the blue hour in the outer Stockholm archipelago. The Live Composite feature first lets you choose the brightness of your environment, a "base image" that is completely independent of how the rest of your exposure will develop. Live Composite will then only pick up the newly added light in your exposure, which is created here with a "light stick" with which I have painted a kind of orb.

As a final effect, I have taken a standard flashlight for a few seconds in the center of the orb directed towards the camera to create the center star.

E-M1  X • M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO • 3.2sec • F9 • ISO200

This image is also made with Live Composite but with a kind of brush where each brush stroke is illuminated, which makes it an effective light brush. I start by painting the model and then as much as possible behind her to keep the fact that she is in silhouette.

At regular intervals I turn off the light to check how the exposure builds up on the camera display, then I can see if it is parts I missed or parts where I have to take it carefully so as not to overexpose.

Then I paint the ground in the same way, it is important that I stay away from the light of the brush during the whole process and direct it away from me so that I am not visible in the picture. It helps to wear dark clothes.

E-M1  X • M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO • 1.6sec • F11 • ISO400

In this picture I used Live Time and burning steel wool to create a sparkling night picture under the river castle bridge in Gothenburg. I started by wading out a bit in the water to get the exciting orange reaction in the foreground. Then I sneaked off and could then with Live Time in real time see how the image was built in front of me and when I was satisfied with the result, I ended the exposure.

Do remember to check local rules on things like burning wire wool. It is fun and effective but you do need to take care. Otherwise, my advice is simply to try things out and see what you can produce. If you are proud of what you achieve, remember to share them in the MyOlympus community and online using the new hashtag: #breakfreewithOMSYSYTEM.

E-M1  X • M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO • 8sec • F4 • ISO500

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