Tag Archives: Equipment

My Light Painting Toolbox

I thought I would give you a quick rundown of the tools which are currently in my Light Painting Box of Tricks (actually there are two!)

Box Of Tricks #1
Box Of Tricks #1
Box Of Tricks #2
Box Of Tricks #2

The two plastic storage boxes contain various tools – one for small flashing kiddies’ lightwands, torches and LED fairy lights, the other housing longer tools such as my Disney Lightsabre and LED Lenser v24 multicoloured wand.

Here is a closer look at each tool:

Disney Lightsabre - Off
Disney Lightsabre – Off
Disney Lightsabre - On
Disney Lightsabre – On

The Disney lightsabre is basically a kid’s toy – and makes convincing swooshing noises when switched on. Once activated, it stays on solidly for about 30s before turning off automatically. I’ve used it to make shots on Day #1774 and Day #1789 and Toybox Day #313.

LED Lenser V24 - Colour Changing Lightsabre
LED Lenser V24 – Colour Changing Lightsabre

The LED Lenser v24 is now out of production, although examples can be picked up on eBay if you keep an eye out for them. It’s a 7-colour-cycling LED wand. Switching it on will change the colours automatically every few seconds, and a second button allows you to lock the colour as solid if you wish. I’ve used it to make shots on Day #1530, Day #1533 and Day #1548 so far.

LED Fan - Off
LED Fan – Off
LED Fan - On
LED Fan – On

I picked up this LED fan in Japan for a couple of pounds. I’m sure you can get them elsewhere. It has five LEDs on one of the blades which all flash at random intervals as it spins. I’ve used this to good effect on Day #1775, Day #1786 and Toybox Day #327.

Coathanger Flasher - Off
Coathanger Flasher – Off
Coathanger Flasher - On
Coathanger Flasher – On

The “Coathanger Flasher” is something I made out of a cheap plastic coat hanger onto which I’ve sellotaped three kids’ party lightsticks which I got cheap from eBay. Each lightstick has several modes – on solid, slow flash, fast flash and wipe from one end to the other. I often use each of the three in a different mode for one shot, just for a bit of variety. So far I’ve made shots on Day #1786 and Day #1792 with it.

LED Torch Assortment (One UV)
LED Torch Assortment (One UV)

The simplest light-painting tool of all – an LED torch. I have several different ones which I’ve been  playing with so far. The UV one has solid on, fast flash and slow flash modes. I used the slow flash setting to make Day #1788‘s intriguing Physiogram. One of the white ones is rather too diffuse to be much good for Physiograms – the smaller the beam, the better for those. I might come in handy for outdoor work though, so I’m keeping hold of it.

Misc LED Fairy Lights - Off
Misc LED Fairy Lights – Off
Misc LED Fairy Lights - On
Misc LED Fairy Lights – On

I have several different coloured strings of LED fairy lights. Battery operated is essential. Have’t used these much in anger yet, but hope to make some Orbs with them in the future. Some stay on solidly, others have the option to flash.

Glowsticks
Glowsticks
Kids' Party Lightsicks - Solid & Flash Modes
Kids’ Party Lightsicks – Solid & Flash Modes

I have also found a tube of 15 glowsticks for a quid, and some more cheap kiddies’ lightsticks. Haven’t used either of these much as yet, but I’m sure they will get a run out soon.

Quality Street - Essential For Gels!
Quality Street – Essential For Gels!

And perhaps the most important tool of all in the light-painter’s arsenal is a box of Quality Street choccies. Firstly, to keep you going on a cold, dark night. And secondly to use the coloured cellophane wrappers as gels for torches and bunches of LED fairy lights! Double win, I say!

I will write another post as and when I develop any more tools which may be of interest.

Panasonic 45-200mm f4-5.6 IOS – First Look

Panasonic 45-200mm f4-5.6 IOS
Panasonic 45-200mm f4-5.6 IOS

I’ve had my Panasonic Lumix GF1 since the beginning of 2010. For ages I just had the 20mm pancake lens for it. Last month I acquired the short 14-42mm zoom. And for my birthday on 1st January a couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to receive this 45-200mm long zoom.

Now I’ve got a very versatile and small camera kit which I’ll be taking with me to Florida for a fortnight in a few weeks’ time.

Made for the Micro 4/3rds format, this zoom is equivalent to 90-400mm on a 35mm camera – so it has quite a long reach. Image stabilisation can be switched on or off (I’ve used it mainly on so far) and compared to my Canon 100-400mm, it’s a minnow! Fully retracted, it’s only 100mm long and weighs just 380g.

I wanted to get the measure of what it could do, so have been using it as much as possible since it arrived. Here are a few examples of images I’ve made with it so far:

Looking Down The Road
Looking Down The Road

Looking down the road from Hylands Park, shows just how far you can “see”. It’s a decent zoom length.

Behind A Cloud
Behind A Cloud

The auto focus had no trouble, even facing directly into the sun.

A Tree In Hiding
A Tree In Hiding

Even tones across the frame – no significant vignetting at the corners.

Farm Cart
Farm Cart

Resolves find detail well without any colour fringing, and shows a vibrant colour rendition.

The Light Has Gone Out
The Light Has Gone Out

Pleasing bokeh in the background with a large aperture.

First impressions are very positive, so I’m looking forward to taking this to the USA as part of my photographic kit.

Equipment Review – Panasonic Lumix GF1

I’m not normally a great one for rushing out and buying the latest equipment (for starters, I’d be bankrupt if I did!). But about every 12-18 months I get a new piece of gear which seems to fire my enthusiasm once more. It’s always interesting putting a new piece of tech through its paces, whether that is a camera or new lens. My last purchase was the Canon 24-105mm EF f/4 L IS USM in March 2008. Canon EOS 30D

My main camera, a Canon EOS 30D is approaching 3 years old now, and my Ixus 850IS compact is even longer in the tooth, having been bought in Feb 2007. I can hear you thinking: “Caz is due for a new bit of gear”.

One of the things that struck me when doing the 2009 Photo A Day review was the fact that I had not used the Ixus once during the 12 months. I’d not even taken it out of it’s bag. I had instead lugged the 30D around with my larger lenses, or at least the 50mm f/1.8 prime. That’s quite a large lump to carry about each day. But I did it probably because, although the Ixus takes decent enough snaps, if that’s all that I had with me during 2008, I was often disappointed in the technical quality if I found a really good pictorial composition.

Panasonic Lumix GF1 Front I wasn’t consciously looking for a new camera, but just before Christmas, a good friend mentioned she was getting a Panasonic Lumix GF1 with 20mm f/1.7 “pancake” lens from Santa. That’s a new format called Micro 4/3rds – a kind of half-way house between the sensors on pro-sumer DSLRs and the tiny postage stamp chips in most compacts. And it has the advantage of interchangeable lenses, although there is no optical viewfinder.

So I did some research and was hugely impressed with what I found in the reviews. It’s a cracking little camera and although quite heavy for its size (I like that aspect, actually) it fells like a properly-built camera of old, not one of the plastic throwaways which are so common now. And the fast f/1.7 prime lens is roughly equivalent to a 40mm lens on 35mm format, so quite versatile all in all.

Panasonic Lumix GF1 Above I was lucky enough to get one of these beauties for my birthday on 1st January, and have been using it more or less every day since. I’ve now wracked up over 1000 exposures, so I guess I have an initial idea of its capabilities and drawbacks, although I don’t feel I’ve more than scratched the surface as yet. You know it must be impressive as it’s the first non-Canon camera I’ve owned since 1987!

The main control dial on top is easy to access, as are shooting modes (single, continuous, self-timer etc). The shutter button is nicely placed on the top plate, next to a small video record button. Yes, it does video too, although I’ve never tried it (and am not very likely to). I was even able to use the controls wearing thick gloves, when I was out and about walking in the recent snow.

Panasonic Lumix GF1 BackThere is a huge LCD screen on the rear, which gives you good clear pictures. In the absence of an optical viewfinder, that’s essential, and I haven’t found any problems as yet, even in quite bright conditions.

The thumbwheel at top right also has a push function, which swaps you between various command modes.

As a long-time Canon user, I was a bit worried that I might not be able to find my way around, particularly in the menu system, but so far I have had to consult the rather thick accompanying manual on surprisingly few occasions!

I have been mainly using the camera in Aperture Priority, as if left in full-auto, the settings seem to default to opening up the lens as wide as it will go – and f/1.7 isn’t always what you want, to achieve a big enough Depth of Field.

The reviews do say the camera gets a little noisy if you use it at ISO’s above 800 – so far I have stuck with 400 or below and have had quite acceptable results. It also does RAW, and the results from that are allegedly even better.  But I’ve not had time to experiment with that as yet.

Pro’s

  • Smaller and more lightweight than comparable-spec DSLRs
  • Full control over Shutter, Aperture, ISO, Exposure & Flash compensation
  • Comprehensive range of lenses from Panasonic, Leica and Olympus
  • Excellent technical quality for a camera of its size
  • Versatile shooting modes for less experienced users
  • Built-in on-camera flash
  • Optional external viewfinder
  • Aperture and Shutter-speed preview on rear LCD screen
  • Live view on LCD

Con’s

  • Can be a little slow to focus at close range with the 20mm pancake lens – haven’t tried others
  • Fixed lens isn’t long enough for some landscape or work where subject is at a distance
    (not a fault of the camera though)
  • No optical viewfinder
  • Quite expensive

So there you are, a long ramble and a few first impressions. I will try and write some more in about six months when I’ve had time to really get to grips with what it can do. In the meantime, I will not be far from my reach when I’m out and about for general photography, although I will still take the Eos 30D when going on specific photoshoots.