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Allow the Unexpected

Light Painting Big Buildings

You may have read an earlier blog where I wrote about light painting a home in overcast conditions. This technique also works during the Blue Hour; a magical time during twilight. It is practical to use portable strobe units to light a home because you can get the strobes within about 15 feet of the subject.

Three or four story office buildings and town houses need more power than my portable strobes can deliver, so I use hot lights to do the work because distances easily exceed 50 ft. The trick is not to overdo it and try to work with the existing outdoor lighting. As the sun goes down, we wait for the light intensity of the sky to match the interior and exterior light levels. By using tungsten balanced lights, the sky becomes a very vibrant blue during the "Blue Hour." 

Here is an example of an office building in Chadds Ford, PA that we photographed for the Henderson Group. The sun was setting off the frame to the right. I wanted to capture the four story part of the structure to the right as well as the nice glass atrium in the middle. The interior lights would time out after about 10 or 20 minutes, so we had to keep walking through the halls and swiping the motion sensors in the offices to keep the lights lit!

 Notice the accent lights on the upper corners, and across the foreground.

Notice the accent lights on the upper corners, and across the foreground.

We were finished with the front view and about to put the lights away when I noticed the amazing sunset and this dramatic view from the corner. We rushed to relocate the camera and lights, them made another trip through the building to turn lights on again! As a result, there was a fair amount of cords and equipment to retouch out of the parking lot and sidewalk. It is not as documentary as the previous view, but it is very dramatic.

 Dramatic view that was discovered after finishing the primary view.

Dramatic view that was discovered after finishing the primary view.