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Creating one-of-a-kind landscapes with Lume Cubes

A while back, I saw a photo my friend Gary Alan Brink posted of the Fallasburg Bridge in Lowell, MI. It featured a car driving through the covered bridge, creating for quite the night scene.

I had long been a fan of the bridge but had only ever photographed it during the day. I wondered what I could capture after seeing his inspiration.

I decided to bring my Lume Cubes along, thinking that I could light paint the bridge, similarly to how this barn shot turned out. But upon arriving at the bridge, there was one problem — there was no easy way to get up close to the bridge to light it. There was also no light on at the bridge — this part of town was still without power after a major freezing rain storm earlier in the week.

I decided to take the process in stages. First, I would focus on the car trails, creating a Live Composite photograph with my Olympus OM-D E-M1X. Then I would light the snow and the bridge with a Lume Cube, put up all the way to full power. Finally, I would bring in a Lume Cube Air with a warming diffuser, to create a sort of light leak effect in the corner of my photograph.

Capturing the car trail

With no light to grab focus with, I pulled out my Lume Cube and lit the bridge. I stood pretty far back, and I wasn’t sure if it would be powerful enough to reach. But I put it on full power and went to work with it. Amazingly enough, it lit the sign on the top of the bridge, creating an ideal focus point.

From there, I set up my shot. After putting my Live Composite to f/4, ISO 800 and 20 seconds, I had a shot I was happy with (you can do this with a long exposure, too). I drove the car through the bridge twice, creating the scene, while my friend Dan watched our cameras.

Lighting the snow and bridge

While I loved the car trails, there were two things missing. I wanted the snow to be brighter, and I wanted the exterior of the bridge to be brighter. Again using Live Composite mode, I had Dan shine a Lume Cube at the snow, which lit the foreground. Then I had him angle the Lume Cube up a bit, which lit the bridge. Using the same settings as before, one round of the Live Composite was enough to get the effect, as it brought in all the light Dan had added to the scene.

The light leak

After playing around with the idea of bringing in an LED light into a long exposure when I was in Los Angeles with Shaun Kenan King, I decided to try the same effect here — except with a Lume Cube AIR. I attached a warming diffuser to the AIR, making for a nice yellow glow that I could attach to the scene.

Photo by Daniel Sak

This time, I turned my camera on manual, and captured a 1-second exposure, holding the Lume Cube about four inches away from my lens, at the upper right. I had the Lume Cube AIR on its lowest power setting, making sure not to overdo it. The results were somewhat magical. Depending on what direction I aimed the light, and how far away I was, I got completely different and unique results. Satisfied, I went home and starting composing the final image.

Putting it all together

Using Luminar 3, I decided to first work on the initial car trail image. I took down the highlights and white levels in order to make the car trails a bit more subdued, and also bumped up some basic adjustments like contrast and clarity. I also boosted the shadows a bit.

Then I brought in the second photograph, where the snow and bridge were lit by the Lume Cube. I applied a Lighten blend mode to the image layer and then turned back the opacity to 70%. I brushed in the parts I wanted to light more, which was mainly the bridge and snow. I made sure to keep the river a dark black. Wanting more light on the bridge, I then added a Highlights/Shadows filter, and brushed in the filter on the bridge in order to boost the shadows.

Then I started playing around with the light leak photograph. Again I added an image layer and applied a Lighten blend mode to it. It was looking good, but then I took a look at the Luminar Looks panel. I found a Look in the Winter collection titled, “Crisp and Clear,” and found it made the perfect adjustment to the light leak. It was sharper and more saturated and felt like it was more a part of the finished scene.

Overall, I think the combination of the three photographs created a pretty cool winter scene. With the car trails and the bridge being the main focus, the Lume Cube was able to add a creative effect of a light leak in the upper right, which I really think helped bring it all together.

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