I thought I’d describe a rather unique subject to light paint: a “giant robot dog monster.” Now, “normal” people might describe it as mining equipment. But night photographers who venture into the remote desert, miles from the nearest paved road, and wave a light around in the dark are probably not “normal.” But this is what night photography light painters do.
Out in this part of the Mojave Desert, there are a number of large cinder cones. The mine is located near one of the numerous cinder cones in the region, the result of ancient black basalt lava flows.
When I first saw the mining chute, it looked like an enormous dog monster of some sort, or an AT-AT Walker from “Star Wars.” In the dark, you perceive shapes differently. The imagination runs wild. I like this sort of quality. It makes it even easier to create unique images.
Here’s how I went about lighting the enormous dog monster, using a handheld ProtoMachines LED2 light painting device while the camera’s shutter was open during the exposure.
1. Warm light on the head
I wanted to first make the “head,” er, chute brighter and bring out the texture. I decided to stand to the left of the chute. Why? Because it would look more natural, mimicking the angle of the full moon. Also, from an angle, the light would not be as flat-looking.
2. Red light up the mouth
I thought it would look really cool if the “mouth” were red. I stuck my hand up its “mouth” and waved the light quickly, in part so I wouldn’t register in the photo. I also covered my head and hand for good measure, using my black hoodie so there would be less likelihood of my lighter skin color being illuminated and therefore showing in the photo.
3. Red eyes
I wanted to make it look like it had red eyes. I stuck a light up in the very top of its “head.” Good thing I am tall. It was very high up. I swept the light around inside as well, making sure to illuminate everything there.
I chose to leave the “neck” and the rest of its “body” dark to accentuate the head more.
And that’s how this giant robot dog monster came to be light painted. Now get out there and find some monsters!