Capturing Moving Subjects in the Dark without Flash?…

OK, I’ll admit that the title is a little deceptive here.  But still true!  We all know that you need light to capture a moving subject in the dark with a still camera (and really with video it helps a lot too), unless that subject happens to BE a light.

I had set out with my fisheye lens and a tripod to see what sort of images I could come up with on a nice autumn evening.  I walked down to the local park and setup for a couple of 30 second exposures to see what the soccer field, trees and sky would look like.  Honestly, they were nice but a little boring.  I was holding my flashlight in hand to check some settings and recalled seeing some shots of people spinning a light source into globes and capturing those with long exposures.  So…  why not stay and play a little?

Thankfully, my tripod strap (Manfrotto) has a nice heavy duty clip on the end and actually made for a decent way to get a larger radius arc when swinging my LED flashlight, so I thought I’d see what it looked like in a picture.  The very first attempt was a bit sloppy but effective.  The sloppiness was caused by me starting and ending the swinging of the light while the shutter was open.

Next, I setup a ten second delay and started swinging the light before the shutter opened and stopped about 35 seconds later after hearing the shutter close.  Rotating slowly in place while I spun the flashlight at the end of the strap produced a couple of nice shots!

I plan to find a better light source since the flashlight I was using is quite directional and only really shows up on the front of the arc, so something that shines at the sides would produce a better effect.  I also need a better way to swing it. So i’ll do a little shopping at Forest City Surplus and revisit this technique very soon.  Stay tuned for the second part of this in the very near future!  Meanwhile, enjoy these few shots and be sure to have a close look at the ‘ghost’ I captured in the park while I was there.  😉

Exposure Data:  All shots are cropped with minor contrast and exposure adjustments.  Shot at 30 Seconds, ISO 800, f8 or f11, with an 8mm fisheye lens on a Canon EOS 1D Mark III.

Remember: Photography is all about light.  Be creative, use what you have with you, and most of all keep in mind that there are times when the light itself can be the most interesting subject!