Recently we concluded hosting 2 nights of Light Painting at Eastern State Penitentiary. This was an afterhours event where our participants pretty much had the run of the prison to take their creativity to new limits. I must admit that I was quite impressed with a lot of the work our participants shared on our Facebook Group page.
The shot above is of the iconic barber’s chair located in one of the cells. This particular cell is off limits to entry and we always respect such restrictions. While we like most other photographers would love to get the best spot, etc., we also have a healthy respect for limits, whether in this case imposed by Eastern State or usually the National Park Service. All too often photographers disregard such limits and restrictions and end up trespassing or creating damage to natural resources in their quest to “get the shot”. We believe in the quote, “Leave no trace”.
Back to the barber’s chair. I would have loved to be in close and paint the light on each part of the chair and the cell walls. It would have rendered a much better feel to the image than painting from behind the camera. So in order to work around this obstacle, I first used the light to cast a strong shadow on the back wall. Then I used the light to paint each wall, floor and chair in separate frames. I combined the various images in Photoshop using layers and masks to give it more of a painted feel. I then did a little dodging and burning to add to the effect.
If you want to spend an evening behind bars, we are already making plans to do this again next year. Be sure to join our Meetup group if you would like to attend!