The Oldest Photo of Paris and Painting with Light Photography
Updated: Mar 24, 2020
I have always found old photographs amazing. This photograph, titled Boulevard du Temple is perhaps my favorite. It was taken by Louis Daguerre in 1838 and shows the busy street of Paris. That's right - a busy street.
Most of us are use to point and shoot cameras. Our cameras are so fast they can capture an image in a fraction of a second. But that's not how it was when photography started. People had to stand (or sit) very still while the photographer opened the shutter and allowed the light to reflect off of the subject creating an image. But what happens if the subject or subjects move? If the subject moves a little it causes a blur. If the subject moves greatly, say from one point to another, light fills in the space where the subject was reflecting off of what now is in that space. Since the buildings and the street do not move the camera captures those images. But because the people (and carts and horses) moved along the street the camera does not capture their images.
There is one notable exception at the bottom left of the photograph, where the street turns, there is a man with his leg up getting his shoes shined. Since he remained still we see him. But everyone else seems invisible because they are moving and therefore create no image.
The same principle exists when creating an image by painting it with light. The camera's shutter has to remain open for a certain period of time. This can happen by setting the camera to bulb mode. The camera and subject cannot move, but the light does. By passing light over the subject, and by applying more light to certain areas to create shadows and give the photograph more depth, the photographer can stand in front of the camera moving their light source, and themselves, over what they want the camera to see. The camera will only record what is lit.
In this photo I am standing in front of the camera to the side of the subject using an EagTac D25LC2 flashlight with a diffuser attached that was developed by photographer Harold Ross. I was introduced to this method by photographer John Hartman at the ImagingUSA 2020 convention in Nashville. Both of these artists offer workshops as well as several examples of their art on their websites which are listed below (full disclosure I have not yet attended a workshop but plan to attend John Hartman's in the near future). For the above photo I am moving the EagTac flashlight over the subject lighting only what I want the camera to see.
This form of photography has quickly become my favorite. It creates beautiful images and the process is the closest thing in photography to filmmaking that I have done. I cannot wait to use this method on farm equipment and automobiles. For me, this is a new chapter in my budding photography career. If you would like to know more you can visit these websites:
John Hartman at www.johnhartmanlightpainting.com
Harold Ross at www.haroldrossfineart.com
I will be posting a sample video shortly and will provide that link when finished.