How I Took That Shot – Catherine Millad

New member, Catherine Millad, won Grade C in our first internal competition of the year with her stunning 'lightpainting' image below. The theme was 'Christmas' and the image scored 552 points which was also the overall highest score across all Grades - an outstanding 41 points clear of the next placed image. Well done Catherine.

This is how she created it:

19 Catherine Millad Christmas

I was stumped for ideas for the Christmas competition and had resigned to the fact that I would not be entering but while travelling back from the Youghal Shoot with one of camera group members, he told me about light painting.  I had never heard of light painting and as I'm always interested in trying out new techniques, I decided to look it up online and it sparked the idea for this photo.

Since the photograph had to be taken in the dark, I could only take the shot at night.  To set it up, I draped some black velvet fabric over a kitchen chair and placed the baubles on the seat.  I tried baubles with various surface finishes but found the metallic finish was ideal as it reflected the spiral shape of the light.  The only light source I could find in the house was my son's night light which has a single white LED and red plastic rim (which created the red ghost-like colour in the tree).

As I did not know how long I would need to “paint" the tree shape, I used the bulb mode on the camera.   In order to get the settings right, I had to go through a series of attempts by switching off the lights, using a remote to release the shutter and then paint the tree.  I was adjusting the aperture and ISO after each attempt until I achieved the desired result.  Once I was happy with the settings, all that remained was to paint a decent looking Christmas tree.

Camera: Nikon D3100
Lens: Nikkor VR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G
Aperture f/20, ISO 400
Shot in RAW format

In post processing, I darkened a selection on the seat area where the fabric was visible and cloned out some random small light streaks.

ECCG 'Christmas' Competition - 20/1/15
How I took that Shot - Karen Fleming
How I took that Shot - Kevin Day
Competition Results and 2015 League Table