The Right Place at the Right Time

will chubb sonoma county photography

Sunrise on the Pond

The light is everything. The right light can mask a variety of unpleasant things. Cropping out telephone lines and old tires can also help.
This scene is off to the side of Guerneville Road in Santa Rosa, California, towards Sebastopol. Ordinarily it’s very uninviting to see, with the garbage and old tires spread along its banks.

 sonoma county photographer

Without the Magical Light

BUT, given the right light it can be magic. (We all look better in the right light!) It had rained the night before and it was expected to be clear the next day. This combination can make for some extraordinary sights. I’m usually out in nature with my camera at times like this, because as the sun comes up it causes steam to rise over moist land or bodies of water forming low laying fog. This morning I was treated to this magnificent scene.

How the photo was made

Harvest Sunrise - a light painted photograph

Harvest Sunrise - a light painted photograph

The actual vine was originally used without grapes for Seghesio Winery. It was produced as a poster to celebrate their 100 year old vines. Seghesio was going to dig up a small section of the vineyard and I was able to get one of the vines and brought it into the studio, along with the soil. The photo was done in winter and the set was too wonderful to throw out.  So, the set was rolled into a corner of the studio for a future creative endeavor. Eight months later, during the harvest, I came up with the idea for the photo you see here. This version of the vine is called Harvest Sunrise. Because of the lighting technique that was used, it looks like a Maxfield Parrish painting.

Seghesio Winery Poster – the same vine without leaves and grapes

The technique used to create Harvest Sunrise is called “LIGHT PAINTING”. First you turn all the lights off in the studio. Then, while the camera is on a tripod, you open the shutter and leave it open for the entire process.

There are several types of devices one can use, I use the Hosemaster system. It is a very bright light source with a fiber optic hose. You use this to”Paint” the subject with light in the darkened room. As you paint with the light, the exposure builds up in the camera. The whole process takes a fair amount of time but the result is a rather “painterly” look.

Will Chubb “Lightpainting” another subject

The small photo here (lighting a different subject) shows how I paint with the light. This would normally be done in total darkness if I was actually taking the photograph. The exposure can take anywhere from a few minutes to as long as thirty minutes. It takes a lot of trial and error until you get the feel for moving the light over the subject to bring out the effect you want.

If you have a comment or question about this process or other photographic techniques drop me a note and we can address it in another edition of

“Behind the Scenes”