In this light painting tutorial, I am going to show you how you can take long exposure photographs of water drops on a psychedelic colorful reflective CD surface with a Mini Maglite flashlight.

Hendrix

Equipment

I’m using a water dropper, a M2A016 Mini Maglite Flashlight, a regular CD, a Nikon D300s DSLR, a Manfrotto 055XPROB Tripod, and some color gels. I also used an ND8 Filter so I could use an aperture of F11. The gels and ND8 filter are optional.

Camera settings

I was using these settings:

Shutter Speed: 5-60 seconds
Aperture: f11
ISO: 100 (or “Low 1.0”)
White Balance: “Incandescent” for correct color, or “Auto” for warmer colors

Pop

Instructions

Take the water dropper and place a bunch of droplets on the CD after you have put it on a table of your choice. The table I was using was a laundry basket with a thin black blanket over the top. Fancy!

Next, put your DSLR on a tripod and place it right up next to the CD. I was using manual mode with manual focus most of the time (but not always, a lot of DSLR cameras have an AF Assist Lamp in the front of the camera that helps focus in the dark, in situations just like this!)

In order to get my aperture to f11, I was using a simple ND8 filter in front of my lens. This isn’t necessary, I just wanted my photos really sharp, and f11 is the sharpest spot on my lens. You can go down to f22 or smaller and skip using the filter if you want. Just use the highest f number you can and the lowest ISO number possible. This will limit the amount of light being exposed to the camera sensor, which is what you want in this situation. Maglites are bright!
Tips

Try making different patterns around the CD with the Maglite flashlight. A really cool one to do is to place the light level with the CD next to the table. This creates a perfect circular reflection in the circular water drops on the circular CD! Really cool.

Try pointing the light diagonally down on the CD, and just try different directions and distances away from the CD. You are bound to get a cool shot.

In order to help me be sure that I get the psychedelic rainbow colors on the reflective CD surface, I Temporarily widened the aperture on my lens to f3.5 and then went into Live-View Mode. This makes it easy to see exactly what the camera sees, so you know what direction to aim the light to get colorful rainbow effect. After you see the rainbow effect appear on the CD in your viewfinder or in Live-View mode, get out of live view mode, go back to smaller aperture you were using before, and then take yo’ picture.

Video

 

How to Take Psychedelic Photos of CDs | Evan Sharboneau

About The Author

Evan Sharboneau

Evan Sharboneau is the owner of PhotoExtremist.com, a website that provides unique tutorials and images to photographers, artists, and photo manipulators.

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