Thursday, January 24, 2013

2012 March/April Colorful ColoRADo eZine Edition


 Control Freak - Better Lighting Tools

I've been experimenting with light painting now for several years. That meant scrounging up whatever could be used to illuminate things at night without having to plug them into the wall. I amassed some battery operated lights - mostly toys. Headlamps, key-lights, flashlights, novel light sculptures, you name it. If it produced some kind of colored light, I collected it. The problem with most of these items is the on/off control. Some lights cycle through blinking patterns or colors and this doesn't lend itself to controlling the tool very well. Imagine trying to draw a specific pattern and when you are finished not being able to shut the tool off without it cycling through unwanted modes. The art of light painting has grown exponentially and where there is a demand, supply will follow. A friend of mine who also desired to get more control from his light sources, has developed some fabulous new tools that really make control a priority.  Better lighting tools with more control.

The above image made with a PCP (Programmed Color Phaser) tool with rocker switch for on/off/momentary off control. This replaces the V24 (designed as a garden light), and has more color phasing options. Head on over to to see the next generation of light sources made by a lightpainter for lightpainters.

March snowstorms bring April blossoms

Spring is here and that means flowers. And longer days. If you are lucky that also means vacations! We are fortunate to have some rare wild orchids in our area.  Known as the Calypso Orchid or Fairy Slipper,  "it is the only species currently classified in the genus Calypso, which takes its name from the Greek signifying concealment, as they tend to favor sheltered areas on conifer forest floors."1 Every year depending on moisture and whether or not the area was disturbed (elk frequent the meadow), we get from 50 to over 100 orchids in a patch roughly 10x5 feet near some moss covered rotted logs.

The cover image features one of the first bloomers (along with Crocus and Tulips) to spring up out of the snow and announce warmer and more colorful times to come.

Coeur d'Alene Mine - Central City

Magnificent Rust - Mining Town Remnants

Colorado is flush with old mining towns and their remnants. One of the most prolific mining areas to boom in the 19th century was Central City. So called the "Richest Square Mile on Earth," that designation may not hold up today but the area is teeming with remnants of gold excavation and extraction activities.

Nevadaville and Blackhawk flank the town to the West and East and some say that's what gave it the name. The Coeur d'Alene mine is still open for tours on the weekends. Nevadaville is almost a ghost town with only a few buildings inhabited and probably not year round. There are several defunct facilities here. The mine shafts are very dangerous due to decomposing pulverized granite sides. Many aspens have overtaken several of the outbuildings near the Prize mine and this place would be a fantastic fall photoshoot. Check back for an autumn perspective soon.

The Prize Mine - Nevadaville

1Wikipedia - Calypso (orchid)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I am pleased to be a part of the Light Painting World Alliance (LPWA) which held the first ever public exhibit devoted completely to light painters and light paintings. Thanks to Sergey Churkin for his work and vision!

Friday, March 23, 2012

2012 January/February Colorful ColoRADo eZine Edition

January/February 2012

Welcome to my fantasy eZine "Colorful Colorado." Every two months, I include the best photos from my wanderings. One shot gets a glorified position on the 'cover' made with FD's Flickr Toys Magazine Cover application over at Big Huge Labs

Camera tossing is really about having a good warranty or a healthy trust fund. But I'm guessing the retail store that you bought that point 'n shoot from is going to change their policy soon if you keep exchanging that crumpled piece of plastic and flexible cables for a new model. Seriously though, I haven't broken my camera yet (knock on, well okay - fiberboard) so I keep doing it. More on the risks and joys of letting go here.

Now that you are on board you want to know what the best targets are for getting something more than a wobbly smear onto the sensor. First, you can always look for targets in the wild like neon signs or other tasty light sources (multicolor neon signs, fake neon signs, or signs that look like neon). Tossing outdoors is much riskier so I prefer pictures of neon signs that I can load up onto the monitor at home complete with a cushy landing pad for my expensive electronics to rest on if by chance I fail to make a good catch. While neon is my obvious choice and a great target, once you've set up your monitor that opens up other possibilities. You can use drawing programs to create shapes and toss against those. You can use another's image if you get permission or if it is CC (Creative Commons) licensed - but it is good etiquette to get permission anyway. Note that the license must NOT include the NoDerivs term. Avoid licenses with this symbol:

CC NoDerivs license
Tossing at different types of monitors will create different results. If you have a CRT - a monitor that refreshes, you will obtain combined "snapshots" of the display in a pattern that matches the flight of your camera.

The faster the rate, the more snapshots. There are other variables such as speed of spin and shutter open time that will contribute to this number.

Target supplied by permission from Chinmay Garway: Vivacity on a Barren Land
Blinking lights will also produce a similar less smooth effect:
Cube Toss
Modern displays like LED monitors don't refresh but the brightness can be adjusted to change the image results slightly. These produce smoother images because the sensor is being saturated for the complete duration of the toss. The image used for this month's magazine cover is an example of an LED target set at a medium brightness level. Spikes and Spines below was shot at a brightness set lower and a double "exposure" effect was obtained:

Target supplied by permission from Jane Thomas: Spikes and Spines

Try all 3 types and if you are adventurous, combine them with a covered lens cap mid exposure to create hybrids. If you come up with another type or technique, leave me a comment!

Aerial in G minor
Happy (and safe) tossing!