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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Machine Gun Post @ Labrador Part 1

I can't say how much relief and joy I had on 27 March 2010, Saturday night that I was able to find time for my nocturne photography and to make some good nocturne fotos. At the same time it was a great pleasure to have a long-time friend to join me for the night outing.

I've always wanted to do nocturnes in Labrador Park. It wasn't my first time there. In the previous week, I did a location recce and I found this machine gun post, which is one of the WWII relics in the park, as my main subject. Its concrete structure design is unique with worn-off textures. I would not talk about the history of this machine gun post here as I dun wanna bore you.

So read on to find out how I made the photographs as I explain and share the techniques used.


To most people, the machine gun post is a mundane subject. How do I make a mundane subject like this more interesting? Instead of doing the normal long exposure photography, I chose to do light-painting i.e. long exposure with additions of color lights. After setting up the tripod, camera mounted and subject composed, I made this initial exposure, in order to see and evaluate on which part to be light-painted.


For this initial exposure, I set my White Balance to Tungsten. I opened up the aperture at f/5.6, using TTL spot-metering on the top metal railing edge of the gun post. Exposure timing is 10 seconds.

As you can see clearly in the foto, the gun post is heavily color-casted by a sodium vapor light on my right side. The overall appearance is ghoulish, which I find it useful. Otherwise I would color-correct it in the digital darkroom.

The next step is to consider the colors to be used for light-painting. As I did not bring my search light, I used 2 Vivitar 285V flash units. I tried out with a couple of color combinations and this is the one I chose as the final masterpiece.


Here's how I did it. In this exposure, I set the aperture at f/11, shutter at BULB. Next I placed one Vivitar strobe right behind one of the bottom pillars of the gun post, pointing inward. For this strobe, no color gel was used but the strobe was connected with a wireless remote flash receiver. I will fire it with a remote trigger later on.

During the long exposure timing, I first fired the other Vivitar strobe with a violet color filter gel into the top of the gun post. In fact I fired twice. After that I fired three times on the tree leaves just above and behind the gun post without the color gel. Then I triggered the strobe for the bottom pillar. And that was it! Total exposure time is 211 seconds (about 3.5mins).

Comparing to the initial exposure I made, this nocturne shot looks alot better, and hopefully more surreal. Finally I made another creative shot if not, interesting shot as shown below.

Machine Gun Post @ Labrador

Thank you for reading this blog. To view more of my nocturne photographs, please visit my website.