Who needs Photoshop when you have a headlamp?

Most people looking at this photo would be excused if they thought it was some type of Photoshop trick. Other photographers might think that I used some sort of HDR or tone mapping method. Both would be wrong.

Read on below the image….


Remarkabe Light | Korinek Photography

Remarkable Light | Flinders Chase National Park

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All it took was a headlamp.

My idea was to try as many different techniques to capture these Remarkable Rocks in Flinders Chase National Park so that I could get images that took a different spin on the familiar. Well at least familiar for the inhabitants of KI as Kangaroo Island is affectionately known. The colours of the sunrise were starting to pop, but I knew that because the rocks were backlit, they would be dark and I would lose all detail. Sure I could try to bring this back using photoshop, but this generally brings a huge amount of noise into these dark areas. I also could have done an HDR, but to be completely honest, I’m terrible at it. Not the technique of bracketing exposures, but I don’t really know what to do to blend them in a way that I like/reflects what kind of images I like to create.

My Solution?

Light-painting the rocks using my Black Diamond headlamp. It’s not eh cheapest headlamp, but not the most expensive either. I actually really love it.

I set up the camera on the tripod, framed the shot and added a neutral density filter so that I could extend the shutter speed. This was so that I would have enough time to evenly paint the light onto the rocks. I started the exposure using my wireless remote (it was set on bulb, so when you hit the remote it opens the shutter and won’t close until you hit the remote button again) and then took a few steps to the right and began to paint the rock.

Why did I walk to the right?

Well, just like many other photographers have figured out before me, front on light isn’t always the most dynamic. Often lighting from and angle, side lighting, or even backlighting creates more dynamic images. I wanted to rocks to match the dynamism of the sunrise.

How did I know “how much” to paint the rock?

To be completely honest, I had no idea. I was just playing around with a technique I had thought about using and was interested to see the results. The final exposure was for 104 seconds.

So what did I learn?

Give a new technique a try. You never know how it might turn out! Definitely a different look from my other photos of Remarkable Rocks here, here, here and here.


10 Comments on “Who needs Photoshop when you have a headlamp?”

  1. I trust the headlamp wasn’t attached to your head!? –
    I’ve had a crack at a few lesser examples myself and would support your advice – give it a try!
    I’m quite envious that you managed to get such a long shutter speed. My canon dslr packs in the noise for anything over about 30secs (unless I’m doing something wrong, which wouldn’t be unusual).

    • Matt Korinek says:

      Hey Stephen,

      Yes, I definitely took it off my head – wouldn’t want to hurt my neck during painting!

      Noise can get to be an issue for me as well during long exposures. However I find that the image I get isn’t necessarily possible with a shorter exposure so I live with it.

      I do find that Canons have a bit higher levels of chroma noise which I find more distracting than luminance noise.

      • The maddest thing I’ve tried is having a long exposure and running round with a small hand flash to light elements of the picture – of course charge time for the hand flash is the key, maybe 3 flashes in 30 seconds (not sure my camera will do any longer than that without a finger on the button).
        As I write this it’s occurred to me that I should try the same with film……. (another one to get around to!).

  2. vera says:

    A really neat picture. My first thought was that it was from the dinosaur era! And a very good description of the technique! What an awesome place to be and take photos…

  3. themofman says:

    I made a similar attempt when the brightness of the Milky Way was at its peak last September. I was way out in the countryside doing long exposures under a 3/4 Gibbous moon, light painting trees with a flashlight from angles of 30 to 90-degrees from my lense.

    I had some good shots but none as good as this.

    • Matt Korinek says:

      Yeah I know that feeling as well. I was doing a shot with the milky way and a jetty that is coming in the next few weeks where I had a similar issue. Only one worked out superbly.

      I think that part of it is because when taking photos of the milky way, you want things to be very dark so you can get as many stars as possible. Adding even a little bit of light to something that dark makes a huge difference. In this case, there was already some ambient light on the rock, so additional lighting didn’t make nearly as much difference as it would in darkness.

  4. […] Who needs Photoshop when you have a headlamp? → […]

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