All photographs taken by and used with permissions from EMD.
Light painting has been a fascinating aspect of photography for many of us. I think it’s safe to say that most of us have tried at some point in our lives/careers as photographers – whether it was just outlining a friend with a small color gel-covered flashlight, writing words in the air with LED lights, or actually creating fantastic light drawings. Heck, even Man Ray and Picasso have used the technique, which isn’t surprising as light painting can yield awesome, even surreal results, especially when done right.
Following in the footsteps of Germany’s now-defunct group Light Art Performance Photography (LAPP) is Electrical Movements in the Dark (EMD), a light painting project formed in 2010 in the Germany town of Koblenz. It’s the brainchild of two self-professed “light maniacs” Heinz-Joerg Wurzbacher and Garry Kraetz. Wurzbacher, like us, has always been fascinated with light painting, except he dreamt of taking the technique to a whole new level. When he came across LAPP’s photos, he knew it was exactly what he was looking for.
They (LAPP) did it in a new way – they were lighting the environment too! It was a choreographic style of light painting. That was just the kind of light painting I wanted to make for my own. They made their pictures in one shot, no Photoshop layers! So I analyzed their pictures, I wanted to know how to do it. The result was that I was trying these things for my own and mostly I found out how they did their effects. I wanted to do a similar style, not just a copy of theirs.
Enter Kraetz, who has been a light designer for more than 10 years now. From his work installing LED lights for buildings and businesses (i.e. restaurants, hotels), he came up with the idea of combining what he did with Wurzbacher’s light painting knowledge. And they did exactly that, spending many nights testing their light painting and illumination methods until they mastered them. The rest, you’re soon to find out, is history.
You see we take so many different pictures, but they all have one thing im common – only ONE longterm shot, no Photoshop-layers!Often people say that we have a “typical German accuracy“ in our artwork. That’s correct, but why not? We love to spin precise light wheels or nearly perfect light settings on a scene. If we are not satisfied with the result we have to repeat it again and again.A great help for us is the use of a Camranger on a Canon 6D or 7D with an iPad – we can control the scene, take some test shots and view them on the iPad. Then we can start with of artwork. Finally, when the picture is made, it will be shown via Camranger on the iPad. So we can decide – is it good enough or do we have to make the scene again?
“We also love to use pyrotechnical material, combined with light tools…”
“…but also with laser tools. This is the winning photo from the Light Painting Photography contest in January 2014.“
“Having more practice with the different light tools, we made more and more choreographic scenes like these…“
“We also love to make light UFOs! It is always funny when we make them people come to us and ask what the hell we are doing there spinning the lights. In the end they are astonished when the see the result on the camera’s screen.“
“We are always working on new ideas or techniques like spanning the camera instead of lights.“
“Our light suits are self-made of course. We started with a light man suit with blue led chains ( a Xmas decoration…), switched over to RGB led stripes (now with RF control) and a special suit called KRAFTWERK suit with UV reactive tape on it so we can light the suit with black disc light to get a bright shining effect.“
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