Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Jack in the Pulpit (Painting with Light)

Our backyard is full of Jack in the pulpit plants, or Arisaema Triphyllum. Almost all of them produced the trademark flowers simultaneously. I find them somewhat creepy, so I’m not inclined to celebrate the flowering.

I thought it might be fun to do a time exposure and paint one of the plants with light. If you haven’t seen this written up elsewhere on this blog, here’s how it goes. In complete, or near complete, darkness, the shutter is opened and locked open. Then, a small flashlight, which has been modified with some black opaque paper to narrow the beam, is used to selectively illuminate the subject. Usually I move the flashlight beam back and forth over the subject, which is a bit like painting. The light brightness I modulate by closing my hands over the front, muting the light selectively.

Many exposures are taken because the results are somewhat unpredictable. Hopefully one of those exposures will produce a desirable image or you end up doing it again. I’ve gotten better over time doing these images, because eventually you learn to modulate and move the flashlight to produce what you want.

I took twelve exposures and chose the one above. Evidently the plant is entirely poisonous,and it looks like it.

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David c.h. Brown said...

Hey Ed,
This one is great! There appears to be an eye in the upper left area, and that is unreal... Some day I will give this technique a try myself. Right now, I am finishing up building a custom kitchen for my wife. Pretty soon eh....Thanks, Dave

Ed Deasy said...


The custom kitchen idea would take up a bit of your time! All the intense planning for space, cabinets, etc. We had a contracted with a friend to do a section of the kitchen, and even the planning for the layout took a lot of effort.
The lighting is easier than you'd think. I shot three negatives, and they were all useable. I can see the area that looks a bit like an eye now too.