In the UK there is a young photographer they call James de Luna. If you are into the light painting community, you probably already know James. He has an uncanny ability to reach out and connect with light painters, bringing the community closer. This is actually how we got to know James. We had noticed his work, and pretty soon James was chatting it up with us on Facebook from across the pond. Right away it was clear that James is passionate about light painting and the light painting community.
When you explore James’ work, you will see a wonderful array of double exposures, lens swap images, and several different light painting techniques that explore the depths of what is possible. He keeps Photoshop out of the picture and uses only the tools provided by the camera, lenses, and light tools. James is an open book that is willing to share ideas, learn, and teach anything that has to do with light painting.
We had the chance to ask James a few questions about light painting.
What is the light painting you are most proud of?
To be honest its hard to pick a favourite for me, but perhaps my favourite very recent picture is “the Terror of Fountains Abbey” a mid exposure swap from a reversed 35mm Nikon lens to an 8mm Samyang
It was on a trip out with a few painters including Tim Gamble & Chris Thompson … a very busy but amazing location with lots of tourists with torches everywhere. I had taken my plastic skeletons with me and was getting confused as part of the attractions, people taking selfies with my props and asking lots of questions while I was trying to set up … to make things even harder I found I had forgotten my reversing ring and had to tape my lens onto my camera for the spider part of the shot, then remove the tape and swap to my fisheye!
It took two goes but I got it and showed the nearest tourist what I’d done, certainly a proud moment.
When we look at your work, your double exposure and lens swap techniques stand out in a beautiful way. Can you give us any tips, or lessons learned along the way?
Certainly, everyone has their own way to go about these shots .. Whether you are working in total darkness with one lens, capping and moving the camera to another angle or location, or swap the lens too like a few of us do now; darkness and tightly controlled lighting is your friend .. or even black cloth and a friend to light things for you … Oh and you can never have enough tripods in my opinion too .. I have 4 .. I love manual lenses because there is no electrical connection to camera and aperture and focus rings help a lot in my work.
Also take time to set up and think about the composition beforehand .. it makes a huge difference to how many attempts it takes to get a shot. I think this one took 3
You have a great ability to reach out and connect light painters in the community. In a perfect world, what would the light painting community look like to you? Also where do you see the community headed?
Well I’ve been very lucky to gain a lot of followers on Facebook and friends in the LP community; some of whom I chat to every day about ideas and techniques …
Most of that interest came after this picture
I think there is too much copy cat LP at the moment and that people should try each others techniques .. but at least make it their own you know …. do it differently. I mean everyone is going to make an orb from steel wool and try laser silhouettes or painting each other with fiber optic brushes.. but if we all look the same I think this will go no where and just stagnate. People who try new things and locations every week inspire me most and id like to think one day we could all be as highly rated as modern artists, not just holding little known exhibitions a few times a year and never getting any real recognition for our hard work other than from other LPers.
But yeah, more than anything I want to see more originality in our artform ..
You have a wide array of interesting images in your collection. Can you geek out with us and talk about a few of your light painting tools?
Well my absolute favourite tool is a 90 lumen focusable torch that I use in most shots I do .. and sometimes besides my camera, tripods and lenses is the only tool involved. I have to say a black bed sheet too; I use it as a backdrop to a lot of props I use and it helps a lot. I love plasma balls and have bought a cctv battery that can power them out of the house .. but ive broken more than ten already lol .. some before I even used them. I love the Camera Rotation Tool; I was one of the first to start using it after Chris Thompson and I’m still very excited to keep pushing its boundaries as I don’t use it enough. Perhaps my best purchase this year was my reversing ring as it makes giant insects and spiders which I think is really really cool to say the least !
A fairly new thing for me is making huge card stencils and using the Light Painting Brushes system from behind them to add texture. My fairies are done the same way but with small solid cutouts on clear plastic. Ive made a black room in my house for daytime LP projects and together that can produce results like this
If you could only bring a camera, one lens, a tripod, and one light painting tool with you to a location, what lens and tool would you choose?
8mm samyang and my 90 lumen torch every time.. the greatest lens ever for LP and made me realise I could make things different sizes at will with just my small torch and moving the camera to another position.
Is there anything you would like to share with the light painting community that we haven’t covered?
Yes .. I love the vast majority of you guys and I hope our art form goes from strength to strength in years to come, however to anyone who thinks they have mastered LP … you stopped learning when you said that 😉 Spread the Light everyone !
Make sure you follow James on Facebook. Leave comments on his work and get to know James.
And check out all his amazing work on Flickr.
Thank you James for pushing the light painting community forward, and spreading the passion to new light painters every day.