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Lighting up a barn with Lume Cubes

If you follow Olympus Visionary Jamie MacDonald, you might be familiar with “the barn.” Located in Eaton Rapids, MI, this barn is on private property, but Jamie has permission and regularly photographs there.

A few weeks ago, I finally had the chance to check out what I had only seen in pictures, in hopes that we’d combine the barn with some really cool lighting just after dark.

The idea

Jamie and I had talked about using his Mavic Air drone, and attaching a Lume Cube to the bottom of it. While Lume Cube makes drone kits, I didn’t have one handy, as I don’t own a drone. We found that with a little bit of Velcro, we could easily attach the Lume Cube to it.

From there, Jamie would guide the drone over the barn and create a sort of halo effect.

Initial problems

We first tried attaching a Lume Cube Air to the bottom of the drone, as it was lighter than a regular Lume Cube. The problem was, the Lume Cube Air had a built-in magnet and caused the drone to act unexpectedly. It crashed almost as soon as we put it into the air.

From there, we decided to use a regular Lume Cube. While it was slightly heavier than the Lume Cube Air, it didn’t have any magnets in it unless you have it inside its diffusion cage. Because we couldn’t use the cage, we decided to grab one of the Lume Cube Air’s diffusers, and slid it on the Lume Cube. It stayed in place perfectly, and helped to soften the light a bit.

The other problems were related to the weather. It was a bit windy out, so it was a little difficult to balance the drone. And with the cold temperatures, the drone’s battery died very quickly.

The results

From there, we got the Lume Cube into place, and Jamie let the drone loose, using a predetermined path to guide the drone in a circle over the barn. It took a bit of time to get it at the right height, and the wind caused a few weight distribution issues with the Lume Cube attached. The first time, I got a random zigzag of light due to not clicking the shutter at the right time. My second attempt was a little more successful.

Jamie’s turned out, well, as expected — rather heavenly.

Photo by Jamie MacDonald

A step further

With the drone experiment finished, we decided to have more fun with the Lume Cubes. We put a flashlight inside, and started taking some long exposures. Then, Jamie took the Lume Cube Air and ran around the space we were shooting. It created an alien-like figure to the right of the frame, which was kind of cool, and perfect with the yellow light coming from the barn.

We wanted to take it a step further and play around with some light painting. We took the flashlight out from the barn, and using our new Olympus OM-D E-M1X cameras, we setup Live Composite mode. For my base settings, I ran a 60-second exposure at f/4 and ISO 400.

If you don’t have an Olympus camera with Live Composite, you could easily do the same thing by creating a composite photograph — just stack multiple photographs together in a program like Photoshop and use the “Lighten” blend mode on each layer.

Once we were setup, Jamie grabbed a Lume Cube Air and ran to the barn. He started off inside, lighting the upper level of the barn. He walked around so we could get light throughout the space. From there, he went outside, and lit each side of the barn for about a second or so — just enough to grab a pop of light with the Live Composite. I let my exposure run for about a half-hour, which created some really nice star trails in the sky.

Now you might ask, why wasn’t Jamie captured in the photograph? Live Composite works by only adding new light to the photograph. Jamie was wearing dark enough colored clothing where he wasn’t captured in the scene.

In terms of the foreground being lit, we got lucky. A car was passing through and lit the ground just enough to add some interest to the scene.

All in all, Lume Cubes totally made this photoshoot a lot of fun! I can’t wait to use them more in my photography. The creative possibilities are endless!

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