I maintain a fine arts practice in addition to my commercial photography studio. This particular image was recently included in INPHA 4 (International Photography Annual), a yearly publication curated and assembled by Manifest, a non-profit arts center and gallery based in Cincinnati, OH.
What’s The Story With This Photo, Matt?
This images was made at an abandoned industrial plant in Downingtown, about 30 miles outside of Philadelphia. It was the former home of the Sunoco Paper Mill.
While I made several photographs in the complex, this one was by far my favorite. The image was lit with a technique called light painting. Light painting involves using an off-camera light. The idea is to cast and rake light across surfaces at particular angles to reveal texture and detail on surfaces. The greater the angle you place your light, the more detail is revealed. The lesser the angle (closer to the camera axis) you place the light, the flatter the light becomes, and less detail is revealed.
Anything can be used for light painting, but my personal favorite way to approach light painting is through the use of a video lite panel. This is the panel I have. Others have a bi-color capability, meaning that the color temperature can be adjusted. This does not have that feature. But it does have barn doors, and the ability to operate off a Sony V-mount battery. So it’s extremely portable. And the barn doors allow a good amount of control over the light.
I’ve found continuous light to be much easier to use than a flash. You can see your results in real time and instantly make adjustments. And the size of the panel I have (it’s one foot by one foot) means the relative size of the light to the surface is rather large. This results in nice, soft light.