Behind the Scenes: A Tree-light at Night
For this behind the scenes post, I shall be focusing on one of the most eye-catching images from my recent exhibition: A Tree-light at Night.
Though this doesn’t initially sound like a particularly interesting image, the fact that it looks like it was taken in the daytime, drew peoples attention and got them asking the question: How was it taken? The answer in theory is quite simple, and those of you who have seen it may have worked out how it was done, however, two points to highlight are that there was no photoshop/post processing involved and is a single image. So here is the answer:
On finding the single tree amongst little more than the night sky, I set about capturing the image I had in my head and considered my options. The first thing that came to mind was shining a torch on part of the tree to work out a shutter speed, and after experimenting, I found that by having the shutter set to 30seconds, I could capture a section of the tree how I wanted it.
Next came the angle, in pitch darkness, it would have been pointless trying to work out where the camera would go without being able to see the tree beforehand, and with the base of the tree trunk being of interest, I went for a low angle and took a test shot. This is where (what turned out to be the only issue) occurred, as when I reviewed the image, there was no data. The fact was that by changing the angle, the amount of already minimal amount of light wasn’t able to enter the lens. Time for a re-think.
As I stood on the steep hill, in the cold, I thought about how best to work with the situation and considered a technique called: Light Painting. Essentially this involves shining a light on parts of the chosen subject, while the image is being taken, allowing them to be highlighted in the final image. I figured that if I used this on the tree trunk I could fool the camera into thinking it had more overall light and therefore bring out more of the detail in not just the tree trunk, but also the night sky.