Friday, July 19, 2013

Chapel of The Transfiguration - Grand Teton N.P.

© George Manlove • Canon 6D • Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 @ 33mm • f/2.8, 15 sec, ISO 800 (click to enlarge)
Last week I conducted a NightScape workshop in Grand Teton National Park, and on our last night we light painted the log "Chapel of The Transfiguration" in Grand Teton National Park, that was built in 1925. Normally, I set up all the lights, but this time I wanted everyone to get involved and give their input. It took longer, but it was more fun and a better learning experience for everyone.

3 Interpretations: We changed the lighting multiple times during the two hours we were there. Some chose to use only the stationary lights that I set up, Others wanted only hand-held, moving spotlights and lanterns placed inside the chapel, and others wanted a combination of all those things. As the evening progressed, exposures for the sky increased and exposures for the artificial lights decreased in order to maintain a proper balance. We started during the end of the "Blue Hour" and ended well past the astronomical twilight. Here are interpretations from three of the workshop participants.

George Manlove lived in Montana for most of his life and relocated to Park City, Utah a few years ago. As an early adopter, George loves technology and was fortunate to work with Apple during the early Steve Jobs period. Thereafter, he was an entrepreneur in the consumer electronics industry and a pioneer in e-commerce online personal computer, audio/video electronics sales in the late 1990’s. "Photography has always been a part of his adult life," says George. "With the advances in technology, digital imaging is very sophisticated, thereby creating exciting entrepreneurial opportunities. I hope to advance my photographic skills to capture unique professional images for the commercial marketplace."

© Nicole Fernley • Nikon D600 • Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 • f/4.5, 15 sec, ISO 6400 (click to enlarge)
Nicole Fernley is an amateur photographer intrigued by the night sky. She started learning photography on her dad's old Minolta 35mm (circa 1970) with manual light meter and focus. "The first time I took it to a photography workshop in the 1990s, I was laughed out of the class by the instructor because it was so old," said Nicole! She grew up on the Idaho side of the Tetons but rarely spent time on the more popular Wyoming side. "I was thrilled to attend Royce's workshop in Grand Teton National Park—I learned some solid skills and became acquainted with the landscape of a national treasure."

© Jean Thomas • Canon 5D Mark II • Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 @ 30mm • f/2.8, 15 sec, ISO 800 (click to enlarge)
Jean Thomas is a passionate amateur photographer who is always looking for that next sunrise or sunset, and always following the light.  This passion has taken her to many wonderful locations within our beautiful country and park system.  The workshop fulfilled a dream to photograph the Milky Way in the Grand Tetons. "I feel fortunate to have come home with so many amazing images," says Jean.

LED Light Panel
Lighting Equipment Used. Calumet Pro Series Stackable LED Light Panel: This Calumet LED Light Panel is a compact (5 x 1.8 x 3") little powerhouse that has become one of my favorite units for lighting painting and people. It uses 5 AA batteries and runs for hours. It's 96 LEDs produce 800 Lux of 5600ºK light at 1 meter. What I really appreciate is the variable dimmer control that allows stepless brightness output. I often use this a stationary key or fill light, mounted on a tripod or balanced against a rock, and I can set just the exact intensity I want (as I did with this chapel). It also comes with two magnetic filter plates that snap onto the front of the unit. One is a translucent white diffusion filter and the other is a 3200ºK daylight-to-tungsten warming filter. I find myself using both almost 100% of the time. Although the units are stackable, so that you can attach multiple units together (2, 3, 4, 6 or 9 units for one huge light source), I keep one unit in my camera bag at all times. NOTE: There are other brands of this light panel design, some much more expensive, and some very cheaply made. The original, Litepanels, runs about $400 for this design. The Calumet is $199. However, the best value out there is the Vidpro Z-96K for $169, which I think is the exact same unit as the Calumet, but it includes two accessories that Calumet charges $40 extra for: a 7.2V Li-ion battery and charger—which will run the unit for up to 5 hours! The Li-ion battery attaches to the back of the unit, and can be used instead of the five AA batteries that go inside of the unit.

GE Chromalit lantern
GE Chromalit 3D Super Bright White Led Technology. I used two of these Coleman-lantern-style LED lights that I placed inside the chapel to light the interior and the stained glass windows. I'm constantly finding new light painting uses for this lantern because it provides 360º of coverage. It has a yellow filter over the light source, so it's warmer than most LEDs, but I still find it a bit cool. It produces a powerful 260 lumens of light, which can be dimmed down with a low setting. The Chromalit 3D will run for 200 hours on low or 100 hours on high using 8 D batteries, but it will also run 100 hours or 50 hours respectively using just 4 D batteries, which is what I do to keep down the weight. NOTE: I originally bought mine at Costco for $20. General Electric is now producing a smaller, cheaper, and less powerful unit; however the original Chromalit is still available on Amazon and eBay for $25-$30.

Dual Xenon
Brinkmann MaxFire Dual Xenon Spotlight: This compact Brinkmann Dual Xenon Spotlight packs a lot of good color-corrected light. Two of our workshop participants had these units with them, and we used both (one photographer painting on one side of the chapel, and another photographer painting on the other)! The rechargeable unit has the option of using one or two beams for adjustable brightness—we had plenty of light with just the one xenon beam, and we often lighted the chapel for only about five seconds of the average 15-seconds time exposure.

Coast HP17 Flashlight: This 615 lumens focusable LED flashlight was use to highlight the chapel's cross in Jean Thomas' photo, but I could have easily used my less powerful HP14 (339 lumens) flashlight. Both flashlights  (and two others) are reviewed on this Flashlights for Light Painting page.

Vagabond Mini Lithium
Vagabond Portable Power Supply System: The Vagabond Mini Lithium is an on-location power supply that I often use to  to power incandescent lights and large studio strobes. In this case, I used it to power the 150-watt quartz halogen modeling lamp of an AlienBees D1600 Flash unit (variable dimmer brought the output down in this case to about 60 watts). This constant light output is often used on a light stand as a stationary light source in my light painting. It provides a repeatable light source for group 'NightScape' shots, or where I need an un-manned light. The Vagabond is also used to power the same strobe heads when I need a lot of flash power for big landscape light painting.

Special thanks to C.Y. Roby, who also helped on the light painting by manning one of the spotlights; and to Mike R. Jackson, a local professional photographer, who suggested I add the chapel to my workshop schedule.

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  1. Wow! Thanks for featuring me—I feel famous! That was a fun night. It's intriguing to see these photos next to each other and see the different interpretations. Great experience! Thanks again, Royce.

  2. All pictures here are absolutely beautiful! Nice work!

  3. Nicole wins, Just my humble opinion. Better sky capture and better angle

  4. I like Nicole's best also!!

  5. Great captures. I do also prefer Nicole's

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