Night photography: Chrysler, Cat, and cockpit

Chrysler, Cat, and cockpit -- by Joe Reifer
Chrysler, Cat, and cockpit -- by Joe Reifer

Troy Paiva and I just returned from 2 nights of full moon photography in the Mojave Desert. For those of you who are interested in attending a night photography workshop this spring, we hope to have some good news for you within a week. The workshop email list will get priority notification when registration opens. Stay tuned for more information including a gallery of images from the new location, and some road trip hijinks. Hope you had a great moon!

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Pearsonville Night Photography Workshop News

Vega with garter belt -- by Joe Reifer
Vega with garter belt -- by Joe Reifer

Earlier this week Troy Paiva and I let our night photography workshop email list know that the owners of the Pearsonville junkyard are crushing and recycling a large number of cars this month. A crew will be living at the yard full-time, and they hope to complete the work by the end of January. About 200 cars in the NW section of the yard will be spared from the jaws of the crusher. We won't know whether the location will still be suitable for night photography workshops until next month.

We're researching new workshop locations, and will send an email update as soon as there is any news. If you're aware of any large junkyards in the Western U.S. that might make a good location, we'd love to hear from you. We'd be happy to negotiate a finder's fee if things work out.

The tag-line for this workshop has always been: "Pearsonville, as it is today, will be gone in a few short years." Well, time is up. We'd like to extend a big thank you to the attendees of the 7 amazing workshops that were hosted at Pearsonville between 2008-2010. We appreciate your support, creativity, and spirit of adventure. A special tip of the hat to Mike Hows for originally sharing this location with us.

Whether you're a Pearsonville alumni with a rusty tear in your eye, or a night photography workshop was on your short list for 2011, stay tuned -- Pearsonville may be a garter belt on your rear view mirror, but who knows what exciting locations await.

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Night photography workshop: Ghosts and Renegades

Ghosts and Renegades -- by Joe Reifer
Ghosts and Renegades -- by Joe Reifer

Last night's Renegade Meetup night photography workshop was a lot of fun. We worked on a variety of lighting techniques with flash and flashlights -- including ghosts and demons. Thanks to Martha for organizing, and to all the photographers who attended. The energy and creativity of this  group was really inspiring! And for the group portrait at the end of the night, everyone light painted themselves during the 1 minute long exposure. Check out more photos from this adventure on the meetup site.

Ghosty Renegade Meetup Group
Ghosty Renegade Meetup Group
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Night photography workshops: Pearsonville, San Francisco, and Death Valley

Light painting comparison -- by Joe Reifer
Light painting comparison -- by Joe Reifer

1. Troy Paiva and will be working on light painting techniques with a few lucky photographers this week at the Pearsonville Junkyard Workshop. We hope to offer another workshop at Pearsonville next March or April. The best way to make sure you don't miss out is to sign up for our email notification list.

2. I'll be teaching a one-night workshop in the San Francisco Bay Area on Saturday October 16th through the Renegade Meetup group. The tuition is an affordable $69, and this workshop is a great way to learn new light painting techniques.

3. In November I'll be joining Nocturnes honcho Tim Baskerville for a trip to one of my favorite places -- Death Valley. We'll photograph at a variety of stunning moonlit locations that may include: Furnace Creek Ranch, Rhyolite, Zabriskie Point, Badwater, and the sand dunes near Stovepipe Wells. Daytime lectures will include night photography history and technique. The workshop runs November 19-21, 2010, and tuition is $595. Register on www.thenocturnes.com

Hope you have a fantastic September full moon!

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Ghosts in the East Bay: A one night workshop with night photographer Joe Reifer

San Francisco Dragon Creation Myth 11:17 — by Joe Reifer
San Francisco Dragon Creation Myth 11:17 — by Joe Reifer

Ghosts in the East Bay: A one night workshop with night photographer Joe Reifer Saturday, October 16th from 5:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.

The site for our adventure features a unique mix of old building materials, installation art, natural landscapes, and views of San Francisco across the water. We'll explore a variety of night photography techniques including long exposures, and light painting with flashlights and strobes. We'll discuss how to create ghostly figures in your nocturnal images, a tradition that dates back to 19th century spirit photography. Workshop tuition is only $69.00, and limited to 16 photographers. Sign up on the Renegade Meetup group.

Whether you've experimented with long exposures before or not, this workshop will be a great opportunity to learn about night photography techniques such as: exposure calculation, noise reduction, light painting, and ghosts (just in time for Halloween!). A gear list will be sent after you sign up. Contact me if you have any questions.

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Drift on over to the Pearsonville Night Photography Workshops

Pearsonville dirt track racing from 1983. Play both videos at once for maximum mopar mayhem.

We won't be drifting through the corners on the old dirt track, but Troy Paiva and I will be helping a few lucky photographers make amazing night photos this fall at the Pearsonville Night Photography Workshops. The yard has hundreds of amazing old cars, trucks and buses. And the abandoned dirt track. Registration is open!

Pearsonville Dirt Track Grandstands -- by Joe Reifer
Pearsonville Dirt Track Grandstands -- by Joe Reifer
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Night photography: Exposure and lighting techniques

Qualifier -- by Joe Reifer
Qualifier -- by Joe Reifer

The image above was used as a light painting demo at the last Pearsonville Night Photography Workshop. Here are the exposure considerations and light painting guidelines used to create this image:

  1. A base exposure with no light painting for lighting assessment and post-production.
  2. A second exposure to stack with the base exposure for longer star trails.
  3. A shorter, darker exposure to control the relationship between moonlight and light painting.
  4. Choosing a light painting position to create depth.

1. Base exposure: With reasonably cool weather, the Canon 5D Mark II can make 10 minute exposures without the need for in-camera noise reduction. Exposure: 10 minutes at f/11 ISO 200. Here's how the engine compartment looked with no light painting:

Light painting demo #1 -- by Joe Reifer
Light painting demo #1 -- by Joe Reifer

2. Second exposure for star trail stacking: the shutter was opened immediately after the first shot finished, in order to be able to combine the sky portion of images 1 & 2 for longer star trails. For demonstration purposes, the light painting on this take was from a high angle near the camera position with a flashlight. Exposure: 10 minutes at f/11 ISO 200.

Lighting the subject from the camera position often looks too flat because everything is lit. This lighting example doesn't work because the primary rule of light painting is broken: Don't light everything.

Light painting demo #2 -- by Joe Reifer
Light painting demo #2 -- by Joe Reifer

3. A shorter exposure for more contrasty light painting: After reviewing the light painting on image #2,  I did a couple more takes to get the light painting just right. Since my first two exposures for star trails were complete, I changed the exposure to 3 minutes at f/8 ISO 200. By opening up a stop from f/11 to f/8, the equivalent change in exposure duration would have been 1/2 the time -- from 10 minutes to 5 minutes.

I further reduced the exposure from 5 minutes to 3 minutes to darken the background by almost another stop. This exposure adjustment makes the light painting more contrasty -- less moonlight on the foreground means darker shadows to really make the light painted areas stand out! The 3rd image was light painted from camera right, and was used for the final image. Notice how the engine area has more depth -- the shadows provide shape and contrast:

Light painting demo #3 -- by Joe Reifer
Light painting demo #3 -- by Joe Reifer

4. Using the same 3 minute exposure as image #3, the engine area was light painted from camera left. Lighting from the left was not as successful because this flattened out the interesting pipes & wires on the right. If you're not sure where to stand to light paint, try both sides before you open the shutter.

Light painting demo #4 -- by Joe Reifer
Light painting demo #4 -- by Joe Reifer

The best way to learn these light painting and exposure techniques is hands-on! Troy Paiva & I will be teaching 2 more night photography workshops this September and October at the amazing Pearsonville junkyard. Registration opens on June 1st -- get on the email list for priority notification.

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