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Food for digital Thought: The Etymology of “Photography”

Rene painted with light.

Rene painted with light.

One of the biggest areas we work on in both my online class with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet, is the use of light.

To me light is everything, and the cornerstone to creating memorable photos. Unless you’re street shooting where capturing the moment is so important, and is the only thing that can trump light, light (as I just said) is everything.

The word Photography comes from the Greek roots that means “drawing with light”. Although this can mean different things in different applications,  I want to center my attention to one area that really is about drawing with light; the use of a flashlight before the sun comes up and after it’s gone down; “Light Painting” is what it’s referred to.

I don’t mean any old  flashlight, I mean one that’s powerful enough to throw a beam (in spotlight mode) up to 200 yards. The flashlight I use is made by Red Line and is about six inches long and has an output of 300 lumens. It also works on regular batteries.

A great example of how you draw with light can be seen in the above and below photos.It was taken by a student of mine that was taking my Maine Media Workshop. Every year I take the class to Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, and it’s become a tradition. We arrive there an hour before the sun comes up so we can get a nice glow behind the lighthouse but not any direct sun.

Everyone sets up where they wanted, and opened their shutters. While their shutters were opened, I walked around with the flashlight and literally painted the building for them. When the sun comes up, the class starts shooting in the early morning light.

Painting with light.

Painting with light.

Afterwards, we all go to Moody’s Diner, and breakfast is on me.

My Maine Media Workshop is coming up on July 26th, and it will be my 27th year there. I’ve always picked this week as it’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland.  It offers a completely set of photo ops than the beautiful coast of Maine, the fishing towns, and lighthouses: light, design, color, motion, energy, people watching and portraits. Here’s a couple of links to past Maine workshops to show what my fellow photographers shot during the week:



Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com and be sure to check out further workshops as they come up.

Keep sending those photos and questions to: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll create a video critique for you.


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