This week, I had an awesome opportunity to chat with a man who is a self-described light painter.
Jason Page resides in Southern Florida, and he not only practices this incredible art form, but he has invented a series of tools called light painting brushes, that along with the help of some simple flashlights, allow a light painter to paint in similar ways to an artist with a brush and a canvas. Jason is widely recognized as a leader in the current light painting movement. Jason has pioneered numerous light painting techniques and with his innovation he’s created groundbreaking images.
Jason’s light painting work has been published internationally in print, as well as online he’s exhibited his work in numerous shows and galleries, including locations like Palm Beach, Miami Amsterdam, and Moscow.
To quote Jason; “Light painting is its own art form. Just as drawing is an art form or painting is an art form, calling light painting a photographic technique would be the same thing as calling, painting a canvas technique.”
Light Painting Photography Blog
Light Painting Brushes
Master Light Painter Jason Page and the Art Form of Light Painting
Joe:[00:00:00] Like many photographers. I have always considered light painting to be a form of photography. After my chat with Jason Page, I’m convinced that light painting is an art form in itself that uses the camera to record the light that is created by the artist. Stay tuned.
DJ:[00:00:18] You’re listening to the TOGCHAT Photography Podcast, the only podcast dedicated to the house and WHYS, hind creating consistently great photographs. Here’s your host, Joe Edelman.
Joe:[00:00:37] Hey gang. This is episode number 247 of the TOGCHAT Photography Podcast. I am Joe Edelman, and my mission is to help photographers like you to develop a better understanding of the HOWS and WHYS behind great photography.
[00:00:54] A few quick notes before we dive in. In case you missed the last episode, be sure to check out my website, www.joeedelman.com. Now, if you’ve never been there before, what are you waiting for? If you have been there, I want you to know that it looks a lot different and there are some cool new features. Now, when you visit the website, the first thing you are going to see. Is my portfolio, not a bunch of articles. The articles are still there, but I wanted to put the images front and center and I’ll be expanding on the portfolio and adding my fine art nudes and abstract photographs over the next few weeks.
[00:01:32] There are over 300 articles and tutorials on the site, along with the directory of modeling agencies and makeup artists from all 50 of the United States. You’ll also find some great advice for models, as well as the photographers that photograph them. And the website serves as home base for all of my TOGCHAT Podcast episodes, as well as The LAST FRAME LIVE.
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[00:03:44] My thought for the week is a lesson that we’ve all heard before. Remember that it is the experiences in life that count. Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy a camera gear and that’s pretty much the same thing.
DJ:[00:04:02] Next up is a TOGCHAT exclusive interview.
Joe:[00:04:05] This week, I had an awesome opportunity to chat with a man who is a self-described light painter. Jason Page resides in Southern Florida, and he not only practices this incredible art form, but he has invented a series of tools called light painting brushes, that along with the help of some simple flashlights, allow a light painter to paint in similar ways to an artist with a brush and a canvas. Jason is widely recognized as a leader in the current light painting movement. Jason has pioneered numerous light painting techniques and with his innovation he’s created groundbreaking images.
[00:04:45] Jason’s light painting work has been published internationally in print, as well as online he’s exhibited his work in numerous shows and galleries, including locations like Palm Beach, Miami Amsterdam, and Moscow. To quote Jason; “Light painting is its own art form. Just as drawing is an art form or painting is an art form, calling light painting a photographic technique would be the same thing as calling, painting a canvas technique.” Jason has been kind enough to share his journey with us and also leave us with some great tips for beginning your own journey as a light painting artist. So let’s dive right in.
[00:05:24] Jason Paige, thank you so much for spending an hour with me here on TOGCHAT, how are you, man? It’s been a while since we’ve talked.
Jason:[00:05:31] I’m doing good. I’m doing good. Provided, , end of the world and everything, but navigating it pretty well.
Joe:[00:05:37] I hear you on that one. Well it looks like we’re going to make it out the other side of this. Jason, every time I do one of these interviews, I like to start out and I’ve already told folks a little bit about you, but I always think it’s fair to let the guests describe themselves a little bit and what they do. So if you could tell my audience what it is that you do and a little bit about yourself and we’ll take it from there.
Jason:[00:05:59] All right. My name is Jason Page and I’m located in South Florida and I’m a light painter along with light painting. Also have a business that makes light painting tools and I run the Light Painting Photography website. Yeah.
Joe:[00:06:13] And I want to start right out of the box, you used that phrase. You called yourself a light painter. So obviously you take pictures, but I noticed in the documentary, on your website about yourself, and I noticed in your bio, you do not refer to yourself as a photographer. So tell me a little bit more about that. Cause you’re taking pictures. But you stick with that moniker of light painter.
Jason:[00:06:39] Yes. I believe that light painting is its own art form separate from photography. I think the camera is simply the instrument used to record the light painting. Like you wouldn’t say that a painter is doing a canvas technique. What I mean? So like photography, a lot of people call light painting a photography technique.
[00:06:59] I don’t think it’s so much a technique as it is its own art form. Whereas the camera itself is simply used to record the art form just as if a canvas would capture the brush strokes.
Joe:[00:07:11] And that’s a great analogy and looking at your work, I think your work completely supports that philosophy. So obviously I want to talk to you a lot about light painting and also the light painting brushes, the tools that you’ve made but I noticed in reading your bio, you flipped the script compared to a lot of people who work in photography in that you went to school for cinematography and then got into photography. Tell me a little bit about that path and what led you to the still camera from doing movies.
Jason:[00:07:43] So I actually started making skateboard and surf videos. I first started my first dive into any photography or videography was making skateboard videos, but all my friends were like professional surfers. So I was like I’m filming all my skateboard friends, but why don’t I film my professional surfing friends? And then I can make movies and hopefully make a living doing that.
I went down that path and I made a couple of surf videos and stuff like that. And It just never, , produced a living for me. I made a little bit of money. It was a passion project more than it was making money. Cause I was always valet parking cars and making surf videos. When I realized that wasn’t going to work out, I got a normal job. I did the electrical lighting and sound actually. At the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts. It’s a here in West Palm Beach, but I was working literally 60, 70 hours a week and hating it and just miserable. So I would go out and walk at night. I would do these, like I walk around and go shoot night photography and stuff like that cause that’s really the only time I had off. And I literally was shooting of long exposure of the ocean with the full moon and bumped my camera. And when I bumped the camera, it left the little streak going across the frame from the Moonlight. And in that moment it literally clicked in my head that my camera was recording light. Ever since that day, that’s it. I’ve just been focused on using my camera as an instrument for recording light. And that’s, it leads me to here.
Joe:[00:09:21] That’s awesome. I always love hearing the back stories of the “AHA” moments for people. I talk a lot about mine, which was that point where I realized “This is going to be my life”.
And it’s always fun to hear how people really got started on the path. So you have this revelation that photography is all about light and you really want to explore the light painting concept. And approximately how many years ago was this?
Jason:[00:09:49] That was 2004.
Joe:[00:09:51] 04, we’re in the internet age at that point. From there as somebody that’s just realized like, “Oh, I really like this” and obviously it’s that creative spark. How did you dive in? What was the path that really. Solidified this concept in your mind, did you just keep shooting stuff where you were purposely just randomly bumping the camera or moving the camera? Because I’m guessing you probably didn’t start out with flashlights right away. Or did you go to the internet? Were you looking to see, was anybody else doing something similar? What funneled you towards where you wound up going?
Jason:[00:10:27] Well, first of all, well, when I did that, I, in my brain thought I had discovered something totally new.
I was like, I’m the only one that’s ever done this. But I was very wrong very wrong. There wasn’t much on the internet about light painting back in those days, right around, I guess, 2000, I want to say seven, eight. There was a group. Trevor Williams started called light junkies. It was on flicker.
And that was really like the hub of the light painting world back then, like, like I said, 2007, eight around in there, there was a lot of stuff there, but back 2004 or five six, there really wasn’t much on the internet about light painting in general, there were people like Dean Chamberlain, who I consider to be the father of light painting photography.
He started in 1977, Vicky DaSilva in 1980, I call her the mother of light painting. So you got Dean Chamberlin as the father and Vicki DaSilva as a mother of light painting, you got Eric Staller did some really cool stuff. And in 77 or 76 Eric Staller, but it goes all the way back to 1889 was when the first light painting was created by at the end, Jules Moray and George Domini, which I probably butchered those names, but that’s how I say them.
In 1889, they created an image called pathological walk from in front. And they literally took little incandescent lights and attach them to one of their lab assistants and had them walk in front of the frame of the camera. And that was really the first light painting that was created.
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Joe:[00:11:59] Tell me about some of your early explorations. I mean, I know with the work that I do, people frequently see my work today and it’s just Oh yes, it must’ve been amazing forever. Which we both know. It’s not amazing forever.
If you could, for a beginning photographer that has never really done light painting, let’s just make sure we have a baseline for our conversation. So let me ask you the simple question. What exactly is light painting as it reflects on your work. And what we see today,
Jason:[00:12:32] Light painting is using handheld lights to create color and design within a frame. That’s pretty much it’s recorded via long exposure in photography to the camera. I say there’s three different types of light painting. There’s the light painting, which is using projected light, where you’re literally projecting light into the scene and painting in a scene just as if you would paint on a canvas or something like that, then there’s light drawing, which is where the light source is being seen by the camera. So that’s more pointing light directly at the camera. And the camera’s going to capture the trails of light that you leave. And then there’s also like kinetic light painting where you would actually move the camera, but the lights in the scene are going to stay stationary.
So my first forms of light painting were kinetic light painting by using the moon. So when I left that little streak of light. And the sky, my next step was, Oh, I’m going to try to draw something with the Moonlight. So I would just try to draw these little designs by moving the camera around. And the first one that I did that I was really happy with the Moonlight drawings was just a heart because the heart shape and the sky, but.
When you’re doing that, you’re, it’s very confusing cause you’re doing it backwards. So with light writing or light drawing, you’re, if you don’t want to flip it and post, you have to write it backwards. So it’s the same thing. If you’re using any stationary light. So it gets a little confusing, but that’s what light painting is.
Joe:[00:13:53] Very cool. And so at this point, were you doing it on digital or were you doing it on film? Cause I know now you, you mix up a little bit with film and digital, correct?
Jason:[00:14:02] Yeah. I like to shoot film. My favorite thing to shoot is Polaroids actually. Really? Yeah. Cause it has that one true original image. In the digital world, we can reproduce that image a thousand times. Even with the negative, you can reproduce it a thousand times. With the Polaroid there’s that one original image.
I really try to keep my images as straight out of the camera as I can. Not that I’m against post production or anything like that to each their own. It’s just my own personal preferences. I try not to tweak them that much. I’ll do some levels or something like that if I feel like it adds to the image. But my favorite thing to shoot is on a Polaroid.
Joe:[00:14:38] Wow, working on Polaroids. That’s like seriously hardcore man. I’m impressed. Are you doing a Polaroid back or a medium format camera or is that 4×5? What kind of format?
Jason:[00:14:48] No, it’s the new Polaroid OneStep+ camera actually has a app that goes with it and they actually have a light painting feature.
Joe:[00:14:55] Really? So you can do a time exposure with it?
Jason:[00:14:57] Yeah. They have a light painting thing. I don’t use the light painting part of the app. I use the full manual when I use a Polaroid to shoot. It’s crazy to me how like we were talking about back when I started, there was nothing with light painting now, Polaroids doing it, Olympus as well. There’s all kinds of crazy stuff. I’ve got a desk sitting over here with Pictionary Light Painting. Have you ever seen that.
Joe:[00:15:16] That’s pretty cool.
Jason:[00:15:17] Yeah. It’s something I never would’ve thought I would see back then.
Joe:[00:15:21] I’m still stuck on the Polaroid thing, man. Cause you’re making me feel like a real slacker with the Olympus and live composite. Obviously it’s so easy, but yeah I’m like really feeling like a slacker hearing the Polaroid thing.
Jason:[00:15:33] The Olympus Live Composite is probably one of the greatest light painting teaching tools that’s been invented. Being able to see it come to fruition live is an insanely great teaching tool.
Joe:[00:15:45] Definitely, it simplifies the process dramatically. I’ve told you this before , I really want to see you work with one of those cameras for awhile, just to see where your creativity takes it. Because obviously I realize there’s a piece of what you do. You enjoy the process, just listening to your videos that you have on YouTube and hear you talk about it.
You clearly enjoy the process. And I realized that feature simplifies the process. But I also realize in looking at your work, there’s such creativity and such perception, imagination of that image because obviously you’ve, and actually, this is a great question.
My perception of the work that you do is that you have to have a pretty clear idea in your head of what you want that finished image to be before you even open the shutter. Tell me about how that works.
Jason:[00:16:38] You’re absolutely right. You just want to have the idea in your head. The hardest part is just working out the spatial awareness of where you are within that frame, and making sure if you’re getting complicated, you don’t want to go over the same areas twice and things like that.
But yeah, I definitely have an idea in my head of what I want to create. Light painting is absolute magic to me. And I could not love it more than I do to have an idea in your head, and then you go step into a scene, right? I like to shoot outside in the woods and just natural environment, much more so than a studio, but I’m in this space, I open the shutter of the camera, I’m walking through the scene , and if you saw someone doing it, you would think they were like tripping or something, you just be like, what’s this person doing, but to just to see it come together in the final image on the back of your camera, literally going through a scene. So the camera starts recording. It’s recording time and space. So you’re literally going through time, leaving little traces of light in this image. And then the camera magically compresses all that down onto one single frame. And it comes out to a final image. To me, it’s absolute magic and means literally every time I do it to this day, it’s just like, love it.
Joe:[00:17:53] Do you sketch any of your stuff in advance that , have a concept or is it literally just, you carry the ideas in your head and then you go out and you try to bring them to life.
Jason:[00:18:02] 90% it just stays in my head. If I have something that’s super complicated I’ll sketch it out. But even sketching it out, it doesn’t really help because it’s just spatial awareness. You can make little marks on the ground and stuff like that. That definitely helps, ,just to say, okay, I need to get to this spot to that spot, stuff like that.
Joe:[00:18:22] That was going to be my next question. When you are doing one of these shots, because I mean, I’ve seen scenes where you’ve like lit up a big section of forest, and then you’ve got a person in there as well. How much trial and error goes into creating a shot. Based on what you just said, I’m almost imagining like, you’re going out in the woods, maybe you have a model with you and you’re seeing a scene. Maybe it’s a path through trees and you are thinking okay, this is great. And I’m imagining a series of attempts that are essentially the equivalent of test shots where you’re going through and you’re trying to figure out, I can light this section of trees this way, and it’s going to look really cool if I do this and then I can do this.
Am I headed down the right path with that? Like how long does it take you to actually shoot an image like that, where you’ve got maybe a path going through the woods and you’re going to color everything?
Jason:[00:19:13] The actual exposure time we’re talking , it could be a couple of minutes all the way to 10 minutes or more, but that like what you’re talking about, the setup of it is hours.
Like if I go out and I’m going out and light painting, if I get one or two shots in a night, that’s a good night for me. So I’m not going out and shooting, different shots the same night. It’s literally like, I’ve got this one idea in my head. I’m going to go out and shoot it. And then, hopefully I get it sometimes I don’t. I mean, I’ve got images that have taken me days of going back to the same spot to get again, how I want it to look in my head.
Joe:[00:19:47] That was going to be my next question is how often do you find yourself going back? Okay, cool. Very cool.
Jason:[00:19:52] People will see the image and they’ll be like, Oh, I want to shoot with you. I want to go out. And then they go out and they realize, wait a minute, I’m standing out here in the woods, getting eaten by mosquitoes for three hours and this guy hasn’t even gotten his test shots done yet. What I mean? So keeping models interested can be difficult.
Joe:[00:20:10] My answer for that is I always work with the mannequin for test shots and then I’ll bring the model in at the last minute. Mannequins are great. You don’t have to feed them. They never give you a hard time. They can hold a pose forever. They’re awesome to work with for sure. So. You get hooked on light painting. And now I know one of the questions that folks are going to ask and whatever you’re comfortable with sharing, but you mentioned that you started in cinematography and you were doing the skating and the surfing stuff, but it wasn’t really paying the bills.
So you get into light painting. I know that a lot of people would have the perception. Well, how are you going to make money doing light painting? So how does that evolve to the point where. , you are supporting yourself with the light painting, because obviously at this point, not only do you have a line of products, which I’m sure that’s contributing, but you’re a content creator, you’re doing YouTube videos. You’ve got an awesome blog. How does that evolve?
Jason:[00:21:08] It’s all of it. And again, it was just a couple of years ago that I started making enough money to support myself with light painting. And it’s through YouTube, blogs, small shoots, big shoots.
And I was still doing even up till COVID. I was still doing, some photography work on the side and stuff like that to supplement my income. So definitely selling the tools has been a big help in making a living or being able to support myself with light painting. But there’s so much you can do with light painting.
I was doing events, there’s so many different ways that you can make money. With light painting, just like you can with events. So if you look at even like a photo booth type thing. I was doing weddings, I was doing light painting at weddings, just like a little photo booth thing. I did it at festivals, music, festivals, all those types of things. And was making decent money doing it.
Joe:[00:22:03] Interesting. Okay. And so were you like printing on site as well? Or?
Jason:[00:22:07] There was two ways I would do it. I would either charge the event and then it would just be a flat fee or whatever, but then the other way I would do it, like if I did like a music festival or something like that, I would go and I’d set up for free and then I shoot.
And then if someone wanted to buy the file it’s 20 bucks. I just send them the digital file and. That was it. Especially at festivals, when you’re putting an angel wings on girls, they love those pictures with the angel wings. So .
Joe:[00:22:32] That’s awesome. See that’s one thing I wouldn’t have put and I like to consider myself good at entrepreneurial ideas, but that’s, I would not have thought of that. And I think that’s absolutely brilliant. So do you do a lot of like gallery prints and frame prints and that stuff, especially since like with your. Your Polaroids, they’re essentially one of a kind, are you able to draw any income from it?
Jason:[00:22:52] Really trying to do that about five years ago. And I did all right. I have a very good friend of mine and we shared a gallery space actually down in Palm beach. He gave me a little tiny section of his gallery space. Let’s put it that way. So I sold some prints out of there and did all right with that. But. , I’ve just, I don’t know. I’ve never had great success.
I’ve done shows where you sit and you sell it prints for whatever. I’ve never had great success with that. I just, I don’t know. I’ve never, and I’ve never really enjoyed it either. So it’s, it was really more about me not enjoying that time.
Joe:[00:23:27] I was hoping you were going to say that because that’s, I was really hoping would, that’s one of the mistakes that I find a lot of people make when they go down that path. And I’m not saying you did this, but maybe you did, but I find a lot of people, they almost look at it as well. This is what I like to shoot, and I really want to make money doing it. And then they’re settling for this idea. Well, I’ve got to go sit at a craft table or at a fair to sell and there’s a couple of things that go sideways there. I mean, one is just as you described them and as I just embellished it. The energy is not there, right? The energy is not there. And just getting the materials together and being there and talking to people and really selling yourself because one thing is an artist, , a lot of a lot of what people buy into for an artist is they buy the artist. It’s the artist personality, the artist story. It’s a tough way to, to make a buck. , and to do the craft fairs and the art fairs and that stuff. And indeed it it takes somebody, I think that’s really into that social element of it to really make that it’s not actually about the photography, unfortunately, , so there’s so much more
Joe:[00:24:37] In today’s world, of course you are certainly well-known within the light painting community. And I know even in the short time that I’ve known you and being been aware of light painting through you, it seems like there’s a lot more people that are experimenting with it and really getting hooked on it. But also a lot of the people that are coming into it are I think, coming into it through your products. So, , you start down this path and then you start this company late painting, brushes.com. And how does that happen? And I mean, I’m a guy it’s all about DIY and , that stuff. So I have a hunch, these started as DIY projects, but then at what point do you turn around and start making a business out of it?
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Jason:[00:25:42] Well, what happened with me, I use stuff like this – water bottles. This is how I created 99% of my light painting work was painting, putting gels inside, just messing with water bottles and stuff like that.
And the thing, the problem was that I had different flashlights that I wanted to attach. The water bottles too, and different sized flashlights, right. That I wanted to attach a water bottles to. So I would tape them up to the water bottle, but then I’d be like, Oh, I want to use that flashlight on this model.
So I didn’t have a way to do that. And the that’s when this thing came about, this is the universal connector. It was literally for me to use, that’s how it started. And it started back in 2000. I think I made that thing in 2011, like 2011. Is when I made the universal connector for the first time. I was using it and then basically I just said, this thing is super useful for me, some of my other light painting buddies might want to use it. And so I showed it to a couple of people and they were like, yeah that’s great. , and that, it just, it literally snowballed into what it is today, but. It started out from necessity for me, and then other light painters started using it. And then it just grew from there. I’m all about do it yourself too. And so I always say that the universal connector, it fits water bottles. So, you could literally get a universal connector, make all your own tools. You don’t need any of this stuff for me.
You can, make all your own, but there was a demand that I didn’t see. From people that lack this, the space time, or ability to make their own tools or people that just say, what, I’d rather pay you 20 bucks for it.
Joe:[00:27:30] People will pay for convenience. And especially if it’s proven convenience,
Jason:[00:27:36] That’s basically how it happened. It started off as a very organic thing and. And slowly turned into a business.
Joe:[00:27:44] That’s amazing. And I love stories like that. So for me, I found out about Light Painting Brushes, more probably on and on about a year and a half ago now. And I was actually in the middle of traveling the country for Olympus and using the light painting brushes for demos.
When, of course the pandemic hit. Part of my frustration is in the last year. Given that I have a small studio, I haven’t been able to have models and makeup artists in. So I’ve done very little shooting. I’ve got both vaccinations in now, and finally starting to get shoots back on the schedule.
So I’m excited to really dig in with them because for the last year I’ve been playing with them. I’ve done some test shoots with my mannequin. I did a really fun Star Wars shoot with my grandson, with your wand But I’m really anxious to get back into them because I’m definitely one of those potential customers that, and I love DIY I’m known on YouTube for all the DIY stuff that I do, but I always look at it as a balance. Right? I’ll DIY something if I’m only going to need it one or two times, or if it’s the type of thing that I don’t really want to spend X amount of dollars on it, because I’m going to change my mind about it soon down the road. So if I can find a cheaper way to do it for those things. That saves my money to, , to do other things.
I love the fact that there is such versatility within all those tools. So I am curious as the business owner, Jason. You’ve got the universal connector, which is the key. That’s the part that it’s going to fit on the end of the flashlight and holds the various tools. What is your number one selling?
Jason:[00:29:16] This guy, the black fiber optic.
Joe:[00:29:18] Really? Yeah. Wow. Okay. See, I was going to guess it was one of the plexi panels. Interesting. Okay.
Jason:[00:29:24] Definitely the black fiber optic has been our most popular tool for sure.
Joe:[00:29:29] I know you were working on it and I realized pandemic probably made that a whole lot harder, but are you selling those in retail stores at all at this point? Or is it strictly through the website? lightpaintingbrushes.com.
Jason:[00:29:41] Everything’s online. Everything is on lightpaintingbrushes.com. We are on Amazon now, but it’s much better to get it directly from us. I prefer people come through light paintbrushes.com because we can give you a much more personal experience. And the other thing, painting, brushes is much more than tools we are all about providing value. That’s what I want to do with these tools, not just with the quality of the tools and all that stuff, but this whole thing is about, , just spreading light painting, and making it more accessible, easier for everyone to get involved in it. That’s really what it’s about for me.
Joe:[00:30:16] That’s awesome. Obviously I will share the link to LightPaintingBrushes.com, but I’m also gonna make sure that folks know about your blog that you have, which is lightpaintingphotography.com. Folks this website has an incredible amount of information tutorials. You guys even do like a regular contest?
Jason:[00:30:34] Yep. Yeah. We have a bimonthly contest.
Joe:[00:30:37] Right. There’s the contest. There’s even some history. You guys heard earlier, Jason’s like me, he nerds out a little bit about history and he knows all the history of light painting. I’m the same way with so much of what I do. I love to know where did it come from? Where did it evolve from? Which I think is really cool. My channel and my podcast, I’m really big on the idea of the hows and whys behind doing things. Right? Cause there’s a lot of, at least when I was coming up through the ranks, there were a lot of older photographers that were the teachers slash mentors. And you heard a lot of rules. You’re supposed to do this, you have to do that. And they were really creativity killers. So I try to focus on the thought process. How are you going to make the right decisions? Obviously it’s gotta be the how, because you need to know the techniques, but if I could get you to offer some advice/ tips to somebody that’s just starting out with light painting, hasn’t had an opportunity to do it yet. Because I know straight out of the box, I talked to a lot of people when I first started talking about your brushes. I had a lot of people do the, the little on the side mentioned if you had, it’s like, , that stuff is so cool and I really want to try it, but I tried like one shot and man, it sucked. And like they gave up because they really had no idea what they were doing.
So they did this one-time exposure. And of course it looked horrible, much like my first ones looked horrible. Right. So there’s a learning curve with anything you do. So what are some tips or suggestions that we can give. To somebody that’s just starting, aside from checking out all the great tutorials you have, cause you go through a lot of your shots and you literally break them down step by step, how you created those shots, which is awesome.
But what would be the things that you would want to make sure that anybody that’s getting into this, like make sure you’re aware of this, or you’re thinking about?
DJ:[00:32:28] Are you a member of a photography club or meetup group? Did that Joe presents virtually to clubs all around the world? Follow the presentation link in the show notes to learn more.
Jason:[00:32:38] From a technical point of view, I would say the first thing is use manual focus. So that as soon as you turn off the lights, the camera is not trying to search for focus. And a lot of first timers will get mixed up with that. They’ll get focused and they’ll turn the lights off , the cameras like I dunno where focus is and then they go create their light painting and then it comes out blurry and that would be my first and foremost. Number one tip is use manual focus, but other than that, it would just be to go, literally, take your camera, put it on ISO 100 f/8. If you don’t have bulb mode, put it on 10, 15, second exposure time and take anything that lights up and wave it around in front of your camera and it will blow your mind. It’s the most magical aspect of compressing time and space and all this stuff into one single frame. It’s. It is magic. So that’s what I would say. Just do it.
Joe:[00:33:41] I’m curious. This is something I haven’t thought of in the shots that I’ve done, but fortunately for my images, white balance is very subjective. So you’re talking about auto-focus would with similar thought press process apply to auto white balance and the sense that if you’re using all those various colors, And let’s say there is a person in the scene that you want to still look like that person that would seem that there’s a big risk, then that those colors are potentially gonna throw the white balance way off.
Jason:[00:34:08] Yes, definitely. It is possible. Sure. Generally I would, I usually shoot it a daylight white balance.
Joe:[00:34:15] Even though you’re using flashlights, which are, I’m assuming mostly tungsten light. Really?
Jason:[00:34:19] Yeah. And I’ll put a little like, I don’t have one here, but I’ll put like a little piece of gel or something like that, that, , to balance that out.
But for me, especially shooting outside, it’s more about the sky. The other one I shoot in that I love to shoot in is a fluorescent white balance because it makes the sky really blue. Like this bluish purple-y color.
Joe:[00:34:38] You mentioned the sky. Do you ever start your shots maybe like during blue hour or like towards the end of blue hour so that you’re able to record maybe some detail and the sky, like if there’s clouds or that type of stuff. And then as it continues to get darker, then go ahead and fill in the rest of your scene.
Jason:[00:34:54] You can definitely do a lot of light painting at blue hour. If you look at Eric Pares work, he does a ton of stuff at blue hour. He’s moving a lot faster than I generally do my light painting work. But he’s got his tube, so he’s got the big tubes and it’s making this big swash of light.
Joe:[00:35:11] And of course, I would assume that light intensity is going to have an impact on when you can shoot and not shoot, et cetera. Since you’re suggestionto somebody was ISO 100f/8, then my assumption is correct me if I’m wrong, that the reason why you’re using different size flashlights is not just for a different size or shape of light, but it’s also got to do with essentially a different brightness of light.
Joe:[00:35:36] So you’re creating your aperture via your light source, as opposed to. The camera you’re basically mandatorily saying, yes, I’m going to shoot in the middle of the lens, I’m going to go for f/8 and then you’re matching your light painting to that f/8. Is that correct?
Jason:[00:35:50] Generally yeah, I mean, I’m moving around. I was just stating the f/8 is a good starting point. That being said the way I do generally do it is I’m going to expose for the scene that I’m shooting in. So if I’m outside and I’ve got no Moonlight, Okay. And I don’t want to like think the whole scene and I’m going to need a lot longer exposure. Therefore I’m going to have a lot more time to work, to create whatever I’m creating within that image. If it’s a full moon bright night, , I may only have a minute or two minutes or something like that to create my image.
So therefore I’m either going to use a brighter flashlight or adjust the speed at which I’m moving. That’s the beauty of light painting is that. Another beautiful thing about light painting is that you are involved in that scene so much more so than just shooting a photo. , you’re living literally walking through the scene and you can create completely different images with just the speed of the movement.
If I move really fast, I’m going to get a little trace of light. But if I just slow down, I’m going to get this really. Beautiful band of light.
Joe:[00:36:57] That’s very cool. So do you ever mix like strobes and your flashlights to do painting?
Jason:[00:37:01] Very rarely will I use a strobe if I’m using it, I’m using it by hand. I’m not setting it on a stand or anything.
Joe:[00:37:07] The closest I came to light painting before Olympus live composite and meeting you. Actually it was when I was a kid, one of the photographers that was a mentor to me. And I helped this guy from time to time. He would paint with flash. So not traditional light painting in the sense of you’re working, but he did a lot of architectural work and they would want night shots.
So we literally would just like go down the building, firing a Honeywell strobe to light up the building at night. So that’s about the closest that I came to it and that sense, and I’m assuming. Or maybe it actually doesn’t matter since you’re painting. Generally, anytime we hear, , in photography talking about doing time exposures or any long exposure with a tripod, we also hear about the idea of using a cable release. Is that an issue since really when you open the shutter. You haven’t done your late painting yet
Jason:[00:37:58] I generally use a cable release. Yeah. Generally I’ll use a cable release or just the remote shutter and trigger it that way. Yeah. But nine times out of 10, I’m using just a. $20, little cable release on the camera.
Joe:[00:38:12] And when you’re not shooting Polaroid, what is your primary camera’s system at this point?
Jason:[00:38:16] The Canon 6D Mark II
Joe:[00:38:18] With regard to gels you, cause I know this is another one. Whenever I talk about gels, the first question everybody says is what kind. Well, I have a feeling, I know what your answer is going to be, but I’m going to ask it so you can say. It aside, obviously from your light painting brushes, which, , you’ve got the various tools with gels, which indeed folks make it so easy. That’s, what’s great about these tools, but if you are going to DIY something aside from the tools that you’ve already got to modify a different light source or whatever, What’s your go-to gel source or where you literally use like anything?
Jason:[00:38:52] Well, there’s two different things that I use. It’s the Rosco swatch books. I recommend getting the there’s two different ones. You get the three by five. The bigger ones is worth the couple extra bucks. I’m not sure I think. Yeah.
Joe:[00:39:04] And you can still get those, the big ones?
Jason:[00:39:06] Yeah. You can find them on Amazon still.
Joe:[00:39:08] I didn’t think they made them any more. Wow. That’s good to know. Okay, cool.
Jason:[00:39:12] Yeah, we’ll get those. And the other thing are like a sticky back to vinyl. It’s like a gel, but it has a sticky back to it. Now the stickiness will stay on whatever you put it on. So they do get messy, but that’s the other thing that I use a lot.
Joe:[00:39:28] Just to make sure that I’ve hit all the bases. We’ve got your. Website.
And again, folks links are going to be in the show notes, but we’ve got your website, which is jasondpage.com. And then all of the great tutorials and information and profiles about other light painting photographers. In addition to Jason are at lightpaintingphotography.com and. The really cool stuff, the toys, the fun things they’re at lightpaintingbrushes.com. And folks, make sure you take a little bit of time when you go to that website. If you’re interested in these things, by all means, I want you to buy some of Jason’s products, but before you rush and stick them in your cart, make sure that you know that Jason has YouTube videos and the link to his YouTube channels in the show notes, he’s got YouTube videos showing you how he uses every one of those tools. So just like anything else, don’t try and copy what he does. Cause a copy is never as good as the original, but he’s going to show you all his tricks, all the ways that he goes about putting shots together with them so you can really get a good head, start on taking your ideas and bringing them to life.
A lot of these tools. And I know when I first saw them, you’re going to take a look and you’re going to say, that’s a light painting brush. Like, how do you paint with light? Like the plexiglass tools. When I first saw those, I’ll admit I was blown away when I saw you, I was in a video because you look at it and it’s a piece of plexiglass that’s cutting a shape. And what you don’t realize is that it actually creates all different kinds of light. You get different kinds of light from the edges than you do from the smooth sides. And then I saw a video you had where you took some sandpaper and you’ve roughed up the side of it and you get an even different texture.
So make sure folks, that you go and take a look at those videos to get a sense of really what you can do with these tools, because Jason is kind of a DIY’er at heart. Every one of these tools has an intended problem that it solves. But then it’s got about 20 other things that if you put a little creative thought behind it, that you can do with it.
And to me, that is the brilliance of this entire system that you’ve come up with and what you’re doing, Jason. So I do congratulate you for that. I’m dying to get out there and be able to get shoots going again so that. I can can really dig into these.
Jason:[00:41:42] Thank you
Joe:[00:41:43] So, Jason, listen, I want to thank you for your time. Hopefully before this year is over. Maybe we get back to doing some trade shows in that and we’ll get to cross paths again, because I think what was the last time we saw each other was what ImagingUSA like. Two years ago now. Wasn’t or was it was last year. It was right before lockdown.
That’s right. We were down in Nashville. We saw each other. Yeah. So yeah. So fingers crossed. We’ll get back out on the road soon, but again, Jason, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
Jason:[00:42:10] Thank you very much for having me. Thank you for the opportunity to share. My passion and what I love. And if I can just say, what is going on here is not just me.
It’s my smarter half Carolina, who really does all the business stuff. I’m not a business guy. I’m just I just want to make stuff, but thank you to Carolina, to Johnny Griffin, to Jason Reinhardt, Chris Bauer, Berea, all our brand ambassadors. It’s not just me that makes this happen. It’s a ton of other people and without all of us. It’s not nearly what it is,
Joe:[00:42:42] Jason. Again, I really appreciate it. Thank you, man.
Jason:[00:42:44] Thank you very much, Joe. Appreciate you.
Joe:[00:42:46] Alrighty, take care. You got it.
Jason:[00:42:48] All right, bye.,
Joe:[00:42:50] Jason really is a visionary in this art form and that passion that he has for his work. It’s contagious. Be sure to check out his website, to see his incredible images. And remember if you’re interested in giving it a shot yourself, he has an awesome blog YouTube channel. And then when you’re hooked on light painting, his light painting brushes will help you to take your work. To a whole new level.
All the links are in the show notes. That’s going to do it for this episode of the TOGCHAT Photography Podcast. Stay safe, have a great week. And until next time gang, please remember these words.
Thanks for listening to the TOGCHAT Photography Podcast. Now go pick up that camera and shoot something because your BEST shot, it’s your NEXT shot. So keep learning, keep thinking and keep shooting. Adios!
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