20th November 2014. On Geometry and Painting With Light

Apologies for the gap between posts, hopefully now we are back on track. This week I am going to over two things, not disconnected as it turns out, though through serendipity rather than design. The first is what we discovered about the rules of composition we learned from our Just-For-Fun (non) competitive round on “Geometry”, where the winning image was a light painting, the subject of our most recent practical evening, by Julia Simone. The second was our session this last Thursday on Light Painting.


About three weeks ago, I think it was, Amateur Photographer quoted Bill Brandt (1904-1983) thus: “Photography is not a sport. It has no rules. Everything should be dared and tried”. Our meeting on 6th November was an open non-competition, that is to say that the members voted on photographs inspired by “Geometry” submitted by the membership “Just for fun”, but it doesn’t count towards the Reflex Open Competition (ROC). Quite a bit was dared and tried, nature, landscape, macro, light painting and there was enough to keep both Ye Acolytes of Photoshop and the Get It Right In The Camera-istas happy, with plenty in between.  It certainly was an enjoyable evening and good to see how many people put entries in. More the merrier! Special club thanks to Mark S. and Mark O. for making this happen on the evening and it was followed by a selection of the WCPF travelling exhibition images for some additional inspiration.


Geometry – basically the arrangement of points, lines, surfaces and space – in composition is far from new, of course. Much, much older than photography.  What we are really talking about, pictorially, is the relationships between form, shapes and space as we interpret, capture and refine it. Basically features or points in an image that form squares, rectangles, circles, arches, polygons and or triangles.  Spotting these is a good start in the following winners entries:


1st: “Alien Shapes” – Julia Simone.


2nd: “Over Head”  Louise James.


3rd “Red Ball” Roy Williams.

03_Red ball_266


It is, of course, not the fall of light that allows us to see the arrangement of forms, but how that light is reflected. Without reflection we could see nothing, it is how we see the world. Within that world repetition is probably the first geometric form we think of and gives a sense of stability to an image and a set of sign posts for the eye to follow in a structured sort of way.  Our brains like structure and order because that way they can assess the environment for dangers more easily. A similar effect can be made through gradation either in size of objects or colour.  Contrast is a form of rhythm all of its own and for many forms the attraction of black and white where distracting colours are leached out of the equation.

Then there are the composition rules of: thirds, fifths and sevenths; the “Golden” or “Fibonacci ratio”, (or even the Rule of Thirds v Golden Ratio); of leading lines, illusions of depth and perspective (eight kinds) sometimes forced by choice of angles and colour (also). These get included or become part of the armoury with practice, sometimes consciously through research, sometimes, maybe most of the time, through seeing and copying them in the works of others either consciously or otherwise. These are the things which we interpret, capture and refine in the space in which they exist. Or we arrange them.



Our light painting adventure, for which thanks to Myk in the woods and Kev and Rich back in the hall – and a big club thank you to them all for making this work – also illustrated these things, “The Rules of Composition“. The bonus with this type of photography, is that the amount of light and the source of light are added in with a higher amount of control than normal. Look at it this way. When we take our camera out in the daylight we mainly constrict the light through aperture, speed, sensitivity to light of the processor or film, or we boost certain aspects according to our concept of composition. In its simplest form light painting – the origin of the word photography is the Greek for Light drawing or painting – we are starting with dark and controlling the amount of light we put into an image, using the longer exposure times to allow for movement and blur which become light trails and patterns. The essentials are pretty basic, but as with any art form, mastery is something else. The big bonus is you get something special from the beginning.

Fire and Ice_DSC1859Reflex_DSC1862Dr Quatermass Burns Down The School_DSC1881_filtered


With bigger subjects, or those where we want to isolate a subject and surround it with dark, we can light in part or as a whole or both in series using a single light source if we so wish. Of course it can get as complicated as you like.

Perhaps the most obvious defining characteristic of light painting is the high contrast of the images it produces. Those images need not be complicated to construct, though the level of complexity, layers and so on is really an individual choice and prevailed upon by individual tastes. The contrast is usually, but not always, on a scale that fades to black, so brightly lit subjects will “Pop”.  The key, though, is the long exposure and the bright light source. All you need is a camera that has some form of manual control (preferably with a bulb setting that will hold the shutter open as long as the shutter button is depressed) a steady place to mount a camera (tripod would be ideal), a torch and a subject. Oh, and a willingness to experiment. Give it a go. It’s fun, relatively easy and you get some interesting results.





From Mr M. Garton of this Parish


Over the Christmas/New Year holiday period we are holding a Woodland Photography Day.

We’ll be spending a day photographing models (both male and female) in woodland settings

We’ll meet up at 9:30am and start shooting by 10am. The plan is to use one location up until 12:30pm and then the 2nd location until 3pm or later depending on conditions.


Any questions, please ask Myk either at the club or via the club Facebook Page.



Need some publicity photographs. A non-paying gig, but something worthwhile for the community if anyone is interested. Ruth Doyle has the details.



November 27th – Bring laptop (+USB) and your selected images for the MAKE A XMAS CARD event! Short presentation followed by a practical. The best one will be sent out as the club card this year!

December 4th – Capturing Stunning B&W images plus Post Production Tips from basics to more advanced from Mr Mark Stone.

December 11th – The second round of this year’s Reflex Open Competition (ROC) will be judged tonight. Get your entries in now!






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  1. Pingback: 27th November 2014. On Christmas Cards, Art and Galleries | Reflex Camera Club